Exploitation of Synthetic mRNA To Drive Immune Effector Cell Recruitment and Functional Reprogramming In Vivo.


Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853; [Email]


Therapeutic strategies based on in vitro-transcribed mRNA (IVT) are attractive because they avoid the permanent signature of genomic integration that is associated with DNA-based therapy and result in the transient production of proteins of interest. To date, IVT has mainly been used in vaccination protocols to generate immune responses to foreign Ags. In this "proof-of-principle" study, we explore a strategy of combinatorial IVT to recruit and reprogram immune effector cells to acquire divergent biological functions in mice in vivo. First, we demonstrate that synthetic mRNA encoding CCL3 is able to recruit murine monocytes in a nonprogrammed state, exhibiting neither bactericidal nor tissue-repairing properties. However, upon addition of either Ifn-γ mRNA or Il-4 mRNA, we successfully polarized these cells to adopt either M1 or M2 macrophage activation phenotypes. This cellular reprogramming was demonstrated through increased expression of known surface markers and through the differential modulation of NADPH oxidase activity, or the superoxide burst. Our study demonstrates how IVT strategies can be combined to recruit and reprogram immune effector cells that have the capacity to fulfill complex biological tasks in vivo.