Dendritic cell-based immunotherapy is a promising strategy against cancer that appears to be feasible, safe and to induce potent tumor-specific immune responses. The use of naturally circulating dendritic cells (DCs), rather than cultured monocyte-derived DCs, might constitute the next logical step to translate anticancer immune responses into long-lasting clinical benefits.
cancer immunotherapy; dendritic-cell targeting; dendritic-cell vaccination; myeloid dendritic cells; plasmacytoid dendritic cells
The differences in function, location, and migratory pattern of conventional dendritic cells (cDC) and plasmacytoid DCs (pDC) not only point to specialized roles in immune responses but also signify additive and interdependent relationships required to clear pathogens. We studied the in vivo requirement of cross-talk between cDCs and pDCs for eliciting antitumor immunity against in situ released tumor antigens in the absence or presence of the Toll-like receptor (TLR) 9 agonist CpG. Previous data indicated that CpG boosted tumor-specific T-cell responses after in vivo tumor destruction and increased survival after tumor rechallenges. The present study shows that cDCs are indispensable for cross-presentation of ablation-released tumor antigens and for the induction of long-term antitumor immunity. Depletion of pDCs or applying this model in type I IFN receptor–deficient mice abrogated CpG-mediated responses. CD8α+ cDCs and the recently identified merocytic cDCs were dependent on pDCs for CpG-induced upregulation of CD80. Moreover, DC transfer studies revealed that merocytic cDCs and CD8α+ cDCs were most susceptible to pDC help and subsequently promoted tumor-free survival in a therapeutic setting. By transferring wild-type pDCs into TLR9-deficient mice, we finally showed that TLR9 expression in pDCs is sufficient to benefit from CpG as an adjuvant. These studies indicate that the efficacy of CpG in cancer immunotherapy is dependent on cross-talk between pDCs and specific subsets of cDCs.
Dendritic cell-based anticancer immunotherapy is feasible, safe and results in the induction of tumor-specific immune responses, at least in a fraction of vaccinated patients. The concomitant activation of cytotoxic and helper T cells, by loading DCs with peptides or electroporating them with the corresponding mRNAs, may further enhance vaccine-induced antitumor responses.
cancer immunotherapy; dendritic cell vaccination; helper T cells; metastatic melanoma
Dendritic cell (DC)-based vaccines require the cells to relocate to lymph nodes (LNs). Unfortunately, however, DC migration rates are typically very poor. We investigated strategies to increase the migration efficacy of DC-based vaccines. Surprisingly, a reduction in DC number, but not the conditioning of the injection site, improved LN targeting.
dendritic cell; imaging; migration; immunotherapy; 19F MRI
The identification of growth and differentiation pathways that are responsible for the proliferation and survival of cancer stem cells (CSCs) has opened avenues for the discovery of novel therapeutic targets. In the initial phase of an anticancer immune response, T cells specific for tumor-associated antigens develop in patients and, at least under selected circumstances, are able to eliminate malignant cells. However, it remains unknown whether CSC-specific T cells are also operational. We found naturally occurring multifunctional CD4+ and CD8+ T cells specific for the stem cell marker OCT4 among the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of both healthy individuals and ovarian cancer patients. Moreover, lymphocytes isolated from the ascites of patients affected by ovarian malignancies also contained OCT4-specific T cells. OCT4-reactive CD4+ T cells did not produce interferon γ (IFNγ) and IFNγ-inducible protein 10 (IP-10) but were capable of proliferation upon stimulation with dendritic cells (DCs) loaded with an OCT4-derived peptide or OCT4 mRNA. OCT4-reactive CD8+ cells did not proliferate in response to a similar challenge, yet produced IP-10 as well as sufficient amounts of IFNγ to induce IP-10 . Furthermore, CD8+ cytotoxic T cells were able to release their lysosomal components, as indicated by the mobilization of CD107a. These results demonstrate the existence of anti-CSC specific T cells in ovarian cancer patients.
CD4; CD8; IP-10; ovarian cancer; proliferation; stem cell markers
Cellular therapy can be defined as the transplantation of living cells for the treatment of medical conditions. Three main objectives of cellular therapy are regeneration of damaged tissue, replacement of function by secretion of biologically active molecules, and redirection of aberrant processes. Given the complex nature of these approaches, in vivo tracking of the transplanted cells is critical to evaluate their potential benefit and to optimize treatment strategies. Recent advances are reviewed that enable in vivo cell tracking as an important adjunct to implement cellular therapy in clinical practice.
in vivo imaging; tracking; cellular therapy; transplantation; regenerative medicine
Dendritic cells (DCs) are central in maintaining the intricate balance between immunity and tolerance by orchestrating adaptive immune responses. Being the most potent antigen presenting cells, DCs are capable of educating naïve T cells into a wide variety of effector cells ranging from immunogenic CD4+ T helper cells and cytotoxic CD8+ T cells to tolerogenic regulatory T cells. This education is based on three fundamental signals. Signal I, which is mediated by antigen/major histocompatibility complexes binding to antigen-specific T cell receptors, guarantees antigen specificity. The co-stimulatory signal II, mediated by B7 family molecules, is crucial for the expansion of the antigen-specific T cells. The final step is T cell polarization by signal III, which is conveyed by DC-derived cytokines and determines the effector functions of the emerging T cell. Although co-stimulation is widely recognized to result from the engagement of T cell-derived CD28 with DC-expressed B7 molecules (CD80/CD86), other co-stimulatory pathways have been identified. These pathways can be divided into two groups based on their impact on primed T cells. Whereas pathways delivering activatory signals to T cells are termed co-stimulatory pathways, pathways delivering tolerogenic signals to T cells are termed co-inhibitory pathways. In this review, we discuss how the nature of DC-derived signal II determines the quality of ensuing T cell responses and eventually promoting either immunity or tolerance. A thorough understanding of this process is instrumental in determining the underlying mechanism of disorders demonstrating distorted immunity/tolerance balance, and would help innovating new therapeutic approaches for such disorders.
activation; tolerance; co-stimulation; co-inhibition; dendritic cells; T cell priming
Immunotherapy aims to re-engage and revitalize the immune system in the fight against cancer. Research over the past decades has shown that the relationship between the immune system and human cancer is complex, highly dynamic, and variable between individuals. Considering the complexity, enormous effort and costs involved in optimizing immunotherapeutic approaches, clinically applicable tools to monitor therapy-induced immune responses in vivo are most warranted. However, the development of such tools is complicated by the fact that a developing immune response encompasses several body compartments, e.g., peripheral tissues, lymph nodes, lymphatic and vascular systems, as well as the tumor site itself. Moreover, the cells that comprise the immune system are not static but constantly circulate through the vascular and lymphatic system. Molecular imaging is considered the favorite candidate to fulfill this task. The progress in imaging technologies and modalities has provided a versatile toolbox to address these issues. This review focuses on the detection of therapy-induced anticancer immune responses in vivo and provides a comprehensive overview of clinically available imaging techniques as well as perspectives on future developments. In the discussion, we will focus on issues that specifically relate to imaging of the immune system and we will discuss the strengths and limitations of the current clinical imaging techniques. The last section provides future directions that we envision to be crucial for further development.
Immunotherapy; Functional imaging; Dendritic cells; PET; Scintigraphy; MRI
The type of adaptive immune response following host-fungi interaction is largely determined at the level of the antigen-presenting cells, and in particular by dendritic cells (DCs). The extent to which transcriptional regulatory events determine the decision making process in DCs is still an open question. By applying the highly structured DC-ATLAS pathways to analyze DC responses, we classified the various stimuli by revealing the modular nature of the different transcriptional programs governing the recognition of either pathogenic or commensal fungi. Through comparison of the network parts affected by DC stimulation with fungal cells and purified single agonists, we could determine the contribution of each receptor during the recognition process. We observed that initial recognition of a fungus creates a temporal window during which the simultaneous recruitment of cell surface receptors can intensify, complement and sustain the DC activation process. The breakdown of the response to whole live cells, through the purified components, showed how the response to invading fungi uses a set of specific modules. We find that at the start of fungal recognition, DCs rapidly initiate the activation process. Ligand recognition is further enhanced by over-expression of the receptor genes, with a significant correspondence between gene expression and protein levels and function. Then a marked decrease in the receptor levels follows, suggesting that at this moment the DC commits to a specific fate. Overall our pathway based studies show that the temporal window of the fungal recognition process depends on the availability of ligands and is different for pathogens and commensals. Modular analysis of receptor and signalling-adaptor expression changes, in the early phase of pathogen recognition, is a valuable tool for rapid and efficient dissection of the pathogen derived components that determine the phenotype of the DC and thereby the type of immune response initiated.
In order for cellular therapeutics to succeed, comprehensive monitoring of the transplanted cells in vivo is required i.e., their localization, functionality and numbers in a longitudinal manner. Recently, dendritic cell based vaccines have been monitored by their effect on lymphocyte activation using [18F]FLT PET in cancer patients.
cell therapy; cell tracking; [18F]FLT-PET; immunomonitoring; dendritic cell-based vaccines
Monitoring of cell therapeutics in vivo is of major importance to estimate its efficacy. Here, we present a novel intracellular label for 19F magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based cell tracking, which allows for noninvasive, longitudinal cell tracking without the use of radioisotopes. A key advantage of 19F MRI is that it allows for absolute quantification of cell numbers directly from the MRI data. The 19F label was tested in primary human monocyte-derived dendritic cells. These cells took up label effectively, resulting in a labeling of 1.7 ± 0.1 × 1013 19F atoms per cell, with a viability of 80 ± 6%, without the need for electroporation or transfection agents. This results in a minimum detection sensitivity of about 2,000 cells/voxel at 7 T, comparable with gadolinium-labeled cells. Comparison of the detection sensitivity of cells labeled with 19F, iron oxide and gadolinium over typical tissue background showed that unambiguous detection of the 19F-labeled cells was simpler than with the contrast agents. The effect of the 19F agent on cell function was minimal in the context of cell-based vaccines. From these data, we calculate that detection of 30,000 cells in vivo at 3 T with a reasonable signal to noise ratio for 19F images would require less than 30 min with a conventional fast spin echo sequence, given a coil similar to the one used in this study. This is well within acceptable limits for clinical studies, and thus, we conclude that 19F MRI for quantitative cell tracking in a clinical setting has great potential.
cell tracking; magnetic resonance imaging; dendritic cell vaccines; cell quantification; perfluorocarbon labels; cellular therapy
The plasmacytoid dendritic cell (pDC) constitutes a unique DC subset that links the innate and adaptive arm of the immune system. Whereas the unique capability of pDCs to produce large amounts of type I IFNs in response to pathogen recognition is generally accepted, their antigen-presenting function is often neglected since most studies on antigen presentation are aimed at other DC subsets. Recently, pDCs were demonstrated capable to present antigen leading to protective tumor immunity. In this review, we discuss how pDCs could be exploited in the fight against cancer by analyzing their capacity to capture, process and (cross-) present antigen.
PIVAC 11; Plasmacytoid dendritic cells; Antigen-uptake receptors; Antigen presentation; Targeting
Assembly and disassembly of adhesion structures such as focal adhesions (FAs) and podosomes regulate cell adhesion and differentiation. On antigen-presenting dendritic cells (DCs), acquisition of a migratory and immunostimulatory phenotype depends on podosome dissolution by prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Whereas the effects of physico-chemical and topographical cues have been extensively studied on FAs, little is known about how podosomes respond to these signals. Here, we show that, unlike for FAs, podosome formation is not controlled by substrate physico-chemical properties. We demonstrate that cell adhesion is the only prerequisite for podosome formation and that substrate availability dictates podosome density. Interestingly, we show that DCs sense 3-dimensional (3-D) geometry by aligning podosomes along the edges of 3-D micropatterned surfaces. Finally, whereas on a 2-dimensional (2-D) surface PGE2 causes a rapid increase in activated RhoA levels leading to fast podosome dissolution, 3-D geometric cues prevent PGE2-mediated RhoA activation resulting in impaired podosome dissolution even after prolonged stimulation. Our findings indicate that 2-D and 3-D geometric cues control the spatial organization of podosomes. More importantly, our studies demonstrate the importance of substrate dimensionality in regulating podosome dissolution and suggest that substrate dimensionality plays an important role in controlling DC activation, a key process in initiating immune responses.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00018-011-0908-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Mechanosensitivity; Podosomes; Dendritic cell; Adhesion
It has become evident that the tumor microenvironment plays a pivotal role in the maintenance of cancerous growth. One of the acquired functions of the tumor microenvironment is the suppression of immune responses. Indeed, blocking the inhibitory pathways operational in the microenvironment results in enhanced T-cell-dependent, anti-tumor immunity. Chemotherapeutic drugs not only directly kill tumor cells but also shape the tumor microenvironment and potentiate anti-tumor immunity. Here, we demonstrate that the chemotherapeutic compound oxaliplatin acts as a double-edged sword. Besides killing tumor cells, oxaliplatin bolsters immunosuppressive pathways, resulting in decreased activation of T cells by human plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). Exposure to oxaliplatin markedly increased expression of the T-cell inhibitory molecule programmed death receptor-ligand 1 (PD-L1) on human pDCs and also TLR9-induced IFNα secretion. Furthermore, oxaliplatin decreased TLR-induced STAT1 and STAT3 expression, and NF-κB-mediated responses. The oxaliplatin induced upregulation of PD-L1 and downregulation of costimulatory molecules CD80 and CD86 resulted in decreased T-cell proliferation. Our results demonstrate that platinum-based anticancer drugs adapt TLR-induced signaling in human pDCs and myeloid DCs (mDCs), thereby downgrading their immunostimulatory potential.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00262-011-1189-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Blood DC subsets; PD-L1; TLR; Oxaliplatin
Tumor microenvironments feature immune inhibitory mechanisms that prevent T cells from generating effective antitumor immune responses. Therapeutic interventions aimed at disrupting these inhibitory mechanisms have been shown to enhance antitumor immunity, but they lack direct cytotoxic effects. Here, we investigated the effect of cytotoxic cancer chemotherapeutics on immune inhibitory pathways. We observed that exposure to platinum-based chemotherapeutics markedly reduced expression of the T cell inhibitory molecule programmed death receptor-ligand 2 (PD-L2) on both human DCs and human tumor cells. Downregulation of PD-L2 resulted in enhanced antigen-specific proliferation and Th1 cytokine secretion as well as enhanced recognition of tumor cells by T cells. Further analysis revealed that STAT6 controlled downregulation of PD-L2. Consistent with these data, patients with STAT6-expressing head and neck cancer displayed enhanced recurrence-free survival upon treatment with cisplatin-based chemoradiation compared with patients with STAT6-negative tumors, demonstrating the clinical relevance of platinum-induced STAT6 modulation. We therefore conclude that platinum-based anticancer drugs can enhance the immunostimulatory potential of DCs and decrease the immunosuppressive capability of tumor cells. This dual action of platinum compounds may extend their therapeutic application in cancer patients and provides a rationale for their use in combination with immunostimulatory compounds.
Cellular therapy, including stem cell transplants and dendritic cell vaccines, is typically monitored for dosage optimization, accurate delivery and localization using non-invasive imaging, of which magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a key modality. 19F MRI retains the advantages of MRI as an imaging modality, while allowing direct detection of labelled cells for unambiguous identification and quantification, unlike typical metal-based contrast agents. Recent developments in 19F MRI-based in vivo cell quantification, the existing clinical use of 19F compounds and current explosive interest in cellular therapeutics have brought 19F imaging technology closer to clinical application. We review the application of 19F MRI to cell tracking, discussing intracellular 19F labels, cell labelling and in vivo quantification, as well as the potential clinical use of 19F MRI.
Eradication of cancer stem cells to abrogate tumor growth is a new treatment modality. However, like normal cells cancer cells show plasticity. Differentiated tumor stem cells can acquire stem cell properties when they gain access to the stem cell niche. This indicates that eradicating of stem cells (emptying of the niche) alone will not lead to eradication of the tumor. Treatment should be directed to cancer stem cells ànd more mature cancer cells.
The TLR9 agonist CpG is increasingly applied in preclinical and clinical studies as a therapeutic modality to enhance tumor immunity. The clinical application of CpG appears, however, less successful than would be predicted from animal studies. One reason might be the different administration routes applied in most mouse studies and clinical trials. We studied whether the efficacy of CpG as an adjuvant in cancer immunotherapy is dependent on the route of CpG administration, in particular when the tumor is destructed in situ.
In situ tumor destruction techniques are minimally invasive therapeutic alternatives for the treatment of (nonresectable) solid tumors. In contrast to surgical resection, tumor destruction leads to the induction of weak but tumor-specific immunity that can be enhanced by coapplication of CpG. As in situ tumor destruction by cryosurgery creates an instant local release of antigens, we applied this model to study the efficacy of CpG to enhance antitumor immunity when administrated via different routes: peritumoral, intravenous, and subcutaneous but distant from the tumor. We show that peritumoral administration is superior in the activation of dendritic cells, induction of tumor-specific CTL, and long-lasting tumor protection. Although the intravenous and subcutaneous (at distant site) exposures are commonly used in clinical trials, they only provided partial protection or even failed to enhance antitumor responses as induced by cryosurgery alone.
CpG administration greatly enhances the efficacy of in situ tumor destruction techniques, provided that CpG is administered in close proximity of the released antigens. Hence, this study helps to provide directions to fully benefit from CpG as immune stimulant in a clinical setting.
Cancer-germline genes (CGGs) code for immunogenic antigens that are present in various human tumors and can be targeted by immunotherapy. Their expression has been studied in a wide range of human tumors in adults. We measured the expression of 12 CGGs in pediatric brain tumors, to identify targets for therapeutic cancer vaccines. Real Time PCR was used to quantify the expression of genes MAGE-A1, MAGE-A2, MAGE-A3, MAGE-A4, MAGE-A6, MAGE-A10, MAGE-A12, MAGE-C2, NY-ESO-1 and GAGE-1,2,8 in 50 pediatric brain tumors of different histological subtypes. Protein expression was examined with immunohistochemistry. Fifty-five percent of the medulloblastomas (n = 11), 86% of the ependymomas (n = 7), 40% of the choroid plexus tumors (n = 5) and 67% of astrocytic tumors (n = 27) expressed one or more CGGs. Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed qPCR results. With exception of a minority of tumors, the overall level of CGG expression in pediatric brain tumors was low. We observed a high expression of at least one CGG in 32% of the samples. CGG-encoded antigens are therefore suitable targets in a very selected group of pediatric patients with a brain tumor. Interestingly, glioblastomas from adult patients expressed CGGs more often and at significantly higher levels compared to pediatric glioblastomas. This observation is in line with the notion that pediatric and adult glioblastomas develop along different genetic pathways.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11060-008-9577-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Brain tumor; Pediatrics; qPCR; MAGE; NY-ESO-1; Immune target
TRPM6 and TRPM7 are bifunctional proteins expressing a TRP channel fused to an atypical α-kinase domain. While the gating properties of TRPM6 and TRPM7 channels have been studied in detail, little is known about the mechanisms regulating kinase activity. Recently, we found that TRPM7 associates with its substrate myosin II via a kinase-dependent mechanism suggesting a role for autophosphorylation in substrate recognition. Here, we demonstrate that the cytosolic C-terminus of TRPM7 undergoes massive autophosphorylation (32±4 mol/mol), which strongly increases the rate of substrate phosphorylation. Phosphomapping by mass spectrometry indicates that the majority of autophosphorylation sites (37 out of 46) map to a Ser/Thr-rich region immediately N-terminal of the catalytic domain. Deletion of this region prevents substrate phosphorylation without affecting intrinsic catalytic activity suggesting that the Ser/Thr-rich domain contributes to substrate recognition. Surprisingly, the TRPM6-kinase is regulated by an analogous mechanism despite a lack of sequence conservation with the TRPM7 Ser/Thr-rich domain. In conclusion, our findings support a model where massive autophosphorylation outside the catalytic domain of TRPM6 and TRPM7 may facilitate kinase-substrate interactions leading to enhanced phosphorylation of those substrates.
Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) contribute to innate antiviral immune responses by producing type I interferons. Although human pDCs can induce T cell responses upon viral infection, it remains unclear if pDCs can present exogenous antigens. Here, we show that human pDCs exploit FcγRII (CD32) to internalize antigen–antibody complexes, resulting in the presentation of exogenous antigen to T cells. pDCs isolated from melanoma patients vaccinated with autologous monocyte-derived peptide- and keyhold limpet hemocyanin (KLH)–loaded dendritic cells, but not from nonvaccinated patients or patients that lack a humoral response against KLH, were able to stimulate KLH-specific T cell proliferation. Interestingly, we observed that internalization of KLH by pDCs depended on the presence of serum from vaccinated patients that developed an anti-KLH antibody response. Anti-CD32 antibodies inhibited antigen uptake and presentation, demonstrating that circulating anti-KLH antibodies binding to CD32 mediate KLH internalization. We conclude that CD32 is an antigen uptake receptor on pDCs and that antigen presentation by pDCs is of particular relevance when circulating antibodies are present. Antigen presentation by pDCs may thus modulate the strength and quality of the secondary phase of an immune response.
The β2-integrin LFA-1 facilitates extravasation of monocytes (MOs) into the underlying tissues, where MOs can differentiate into dendritic cells (DCs). Although DCs express LFA-1, unlike MOs, they cannot bind to ICAM-1. We hypothesized that an altered integrin organization on the DC plasma membrane might cause this effect and investigated the relationship between membrane organization and function of LFA-1 on MOs and DCs. High-resolution mapping of LFA-1 surface distribution revealed that on MOs LFA-1 function is associated with a distribution in well-defined nanoclusters (100–150-nm diameter). Interestingly, a fraction of these nanoclusters contains primed LFA-1 molecules expressing the specific activation-dependent L16-epitope. Live imaging of MO–T-cell conjugates showed that only these primed nanoclusters are dynamically recruited to the cellular interface forming micrometer-sized assemblies engaged in ligand binding and linked to talin. We conclude that besides affinity regulation, LFA-1 function is controlled by at least three different avidity patterns: random distributed inactive molecules, well-defined ligand-independent proactive nanoclusters, and ligand-triggered micrometer-sized macroclusters.
The C-type lectin dendritic cell (DC)–specific intercellular adhesion molecule grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN; CD209) facilitates binding and internalization of several viruses, including HIV-1, on DCs, but the underlying mechanism for being such an efficient phagocytic pathogen-recognition receptor is poorly understood. By high resolution electron microscopy, we demonstrate a direct relation between DC-SIGN function as viral receptor and its microlocalization on the plasma membrane. During development of human monocyte-derived DCs, DC-SIGN becomes organized in well-defined microdomains, with an average diameter of 200 nm. Biochemical experiments and confocal microscopy indicate that DC-SIGN microdomains reside within lipid rafts. Finally, we show that the organization of DC-SIGN in microdomains on the plasma membrane is important for binding and internalization of virus particles, suggesting that these multimolecular assemblies of DC-SIGN act as a docking site for pathogens like HIV-1 to invade the host.
pathogen recognition receptor; lectin; electron microscopy; multiprotein assembly; lipid rafts
CD83 is an immunoglobulin (Ig) superfamily member that is upregulated during the maturation of dendritic cells (DCs). It has been widely used as a marker for mature DCs, but its function is still unknown. To approach its potential functional role, we have expressed the extracellular Ig domain of human CD83 (hCD83ext) as a soluble protein. Using this tool we could show that immature as well as mature DCs bind to CD83. Since CD83 binds a ligand also expressed on immature DCs, which do not express CD83, indicates that binding is not a homophilic interaction. In addition we demonstrate that hCD83ext interferes with DC maturation downmodulating the expression of CD80 and CD83, while no phenotypical effects were observed on T cells. Finally, we show that hCD83ext inhibits DC-dependent allogeneic and peptide-specific T cell proliferation in a concentration dependent manner in vitro. This is the first report regarding functional aspects of CD83 and the binding of CD83 to DCs.
CD83; dendritic cells; MLR; T cell inhibition; recombinant expression
Human minor histocompatibility antigens (mHags) play an important role in the induction of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) reactivity against leukemia after human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA)-identical allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). As most mHags are not leukemia specific but are also expressed by normal tissues, antileukemia reactivity is often associated with life-threatening graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Here, we describe a novel mHag, HB-1, that elicits donor-derived CTL reactivity in a B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) patient treated by HLA-matched BMT. We identified the gene encoding the antigenic peptide recognized by HB-1–specific CTLs. Interestingly, expression of the HB-1 gene was only observed in B-ALL cells and Epstein-Barr virus–transformed B cells. The HB-1 gene–encoded peptide EEKRGSLHVW is recognized by the CTL in association with HLA-B44. Further analysis reveals that a polymorphism in the HB-1 gene generates a single amino acid exchange from His to Tyr at position 8 within this peptide. This amino acid substitution is critical for recognition by HB-1–specific CTLs. The restricted expression of the polymorphic HB-1 Ag by B-ALL cells and the ability to generate HB-1–specific CTLs in vitro using peptide-loaded dendritic cells offer novel opportunities to specifically target the immune system against B-ALL without the risk of evoking GVHD.
bone marrow transplantation; cytotoxic T lymphocytes; minor histocompatibility antigens; B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia; tumor immunity