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1.  Cross-Presentation of Synthetic Long Peptides by Human Dendritic Cells: A Process Dependent on ERAD Component p97/VCP but Not sec61 and/or Derlin-1 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89897.
Antitumor vaccination using synthetic long peptides (SLP) is an additional therapeutic strategy currently under development. It aims to activate tumor-specific CD8+ CTL by professional APCs such as DCs. DCs can activate T lymphocytes by MHC class I presentation of exogenous antigens - a process referred to as “cross-presentation”. Until recently, the intracellular mechanisms involved in cross-presentation of soluble antigens have been unclear. Here, we characterize the cross-presentation pathway of SLP Melan-A16–40 containing the HLA-A2-restricted epitope26–35 (A27L) in human DCs. Using confocal microscopy and specific inhibitors, we show that SLP16–40 is rapidly taken up by DC and follows a classical TAP- and proteasome-dependent cross-presentation pathway. Our data support a role for the ER-associated degradation machinery (ERAD)-related protein p97/VCP in the transport of SLP16–40 from early endosomes to the cytoplasm but formally exclude both sec61 and Derlin-1 as possible retro-translocation channels for cross-presentation. In addition, we show that generation of the Melan-A26–35 peptide from the SLP16–40 was absolutely not influenced by the proteasome subunit composition in DC. Altogether, our findings propose a model for cross-presentation of SLP which tends to enlarge the repertoire of potential candidates for retro-translocation of exogenous antigens to the cytosol.
PMCID: PMC3937416  PMID: 24587108
2.  HLA-E-Restricted Cross-Recognition of Allogeneic Endothelial Cells by CMV-Associated CD8 T Cells: A Potential Risk Factor following Transplantation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50951.
Although association between CMV infection and allograft rejection is well admitted, the precise mechanisms involved remain uncertain. Here, we report the characterization of an alloreactive HLA-E-restricted CD8 T cell population that was detected in the PBL of a kidney transplant patient after its CMV conversion. This monoclonal CD8 T cell population represents a sizable fraction in the blood (3% of PBL) and is characterized by an effector-memory phenotype and the expression of multiple NK receptors. Interestingly, these unconventional T cells display HLA-E-dependent reactivity against peptides derived from the leader sequences of both various HCMV-UL40 and allogeneic classical HLA-I molecules. Consequently, while HLA-E-restricted CD8 T cells have potential to contribute to the control of CMV infection in vivo, they may also directly mediate graft rejection through recognition of peptides derived from allogeneic HLA-I molecules on graft cells. Therefore, as HLA-E expression in nonlymphoid organs is mainly restricted to endothelial cells, we investigated the reactivity of this HLA-E-restricted T cell population towards allogeneic endothelial cells. We clearly demonstrated that CMV-associated HLA-E-restricted T cells efficiently recognized and killed allogeneic endothelial cells in vitro. Moreover, our data indicate that this alloreactivity is tightly regulated by NK receptors, especially by inhibitory KIR2DL2 that strongly prevents TCR-induced activation through recognition of HLA-C molecules. Hence, a better evaluation of the role of CMV-associated HLA-E-restricted T cells in transplantation and of the impact of HLA-genotype, especially HLA-C, on their alloreactivity may determine whether they indeed represent a risk factor following organ transplantation.
PMCID: PMC3511380  PMID: 23226431
3.  Matrix metalloproteinase-2 conditions human dendritic cells to prime inflammatory TH2 cells via an IL-12- and OX40L-dependent pathway 
Cancer cell  2011;19(3):333-346.
Matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) is a proteolytic enzyme degrading the extracellular matrix and over-expressed by many tumors. Here, we documented the presence of MMP-2-specific CD4+ T cells in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) from melanoma patients. Strikingly, MMP-2-specific CD4+ T cells displayed an inflammatory TH2 profile, i.e. mainly secreting TNFα, IL-4 and IL-13 and expressing GATA-3. Furthermore, MMP-2-conditioned dendritic cells (DCs) primed naïve CD4+ T cells to differentiate into an inflammatory TH2 phenotype through OX40L expression and inhibition of IL-12p70 production. MMP-2 degrades the type-I IFN receptor, thereby preventing STAT1 phosphorylation, which is necessary for IL-12p35 production. Active MMP-2, therefore, acts as an endogenous type-2 “conditioner” and may play a role in the observed prevalence of detrimental type-2 responses in melanoma.
Several melanoma-associated antigens have been targeted in immunization strategies to treat melanoma patients. However, the therapeutic efficacy of these approaches remains limited, indicating an urgent need for improvement. Because MMP-2 activity is critical for melanoma progression, it represents an interesting target for vaccine therapy. We show that MMP-2 is an immunogenic tumor antigen. However, MMP-2-specific CD4+ T lymphocytes display a suboptimal inflammatory TH2 profile. MMP-2-conditoned DCs prime TH2 responses against several melanoma-associated antigen (MAA), suggesting that MMP-2 can create a TH2 skewing microenvironment in a bystander fashion. Elucidation of the underlying mechanisms opens the way to improving immune responses towards a more effective TH1 response, and highlights the potential of MMP2 as a target antigen in melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3073826  PMID: 21397857
4.  Folding of Matrix Metalloproteinase-2 Prevents Endogenous Generation of MHC Class-I Restricted Epitope 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11894.
We previously demonstrated that the matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) contained an antigenic peptide recognized by a CD8 T cell clone in the HLA-A*0201 context. The presentation of this peptide on class I molecules by human melanoma cells required a cross-presentation mechanism. Surprisingly, the classical endogenous processing pathway did not process this MMP-2 epitope.
Methodology/Principal Findings
By PCR directed mutagenesis we showed that disruption of a single disulfide bond induced MMP-2 epitope presentation. By Pulse-Chase experiment, we demonstrated that disulfide bonds stabilized MMP-2 and impeded its degradation. Finally, using drugs, we documented that mutated MMP-2 epitope presentation used the proteasome and retrotranslocation complex.
These data appear crucial to us since they established the existence of a new inhibitory mechanism for the generation of a T cell epitope. In spite of MMP-2 classified as a self-antigen, the fact that cross-presentation is the only way to present this MMP-2 epitope underlines the importance to target this type of antigen in immunotherapy protocols.
PMCID: PMC2912773  PMID: 20689590
5.  αvβ3-dependent cross-presentation of matrix metalloproteinase–2 by melanoma cells gives rise to a new tumor antigen 
A large array of antigens that are recognized by tumor-specific T cells has been identified and shown to be generated through various processes. We describe a new mechanism underlying T cell recognition of melanoma cells, which involves the generation of a major histocompatibility complex class I–restricted epitope after tumor-mediated uptake and processing of an extracellular protein—a process referred to as cross-presentation—which is believed to be restricted to immune cells. We show that melanoma cells cross-present, in an αvβ3-dependent manner, an antigen derived from secreted matrix metalloproteinase–2 (MMP-2) to human leukocyte antigen A*0201-restricted T cells. Because MMP-2 activity is critical for melanoma progression, the MMP-2 peptide should be cross-presented by most progressing melanomas and represents a unique antigen for vaccine therapy of these tumors.
PMCID: PMC2212908  PMID: 15998788

Results 1-5 (5)