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1.  Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 and H3K27me3 Cooperate with H3K9 Methylation To Maintain Heterochromatin Protein 1α at Chromatin 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2014;34(19):3662-3674.
Methylation of histone H3 on lysine 9 or 27 is crucial for heterochromatin formation. Previously considered hallmarks of, respectively, constitutive and facultative heterochromatin, recent evidence has accumulated in favor of coexistence of these two marks and their cooperation in gene silencing maintenance. H3K9me2/3 ensures anchorage at chromatin of heterochromatin protein 1α (HP1α), a main component of heterochromatin. HP1α chromoshadow domain, involved in dimerization and interaction with partners, has additional but still unclear roles in HP1α recruitment to chromatin. Because of previously suggested links between polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), which catalyzes H3K27 methylation, and HP1α, we tested whether PRC2 may regulate HP1α abundance at chromatin. We found that the EZH2 and SUZ12 subunits of PRC2 are required for HP1α stability, as knockdown of either protein led to HP1α degradation. Similar results were obtained upon overexpression of H3K27me2/3 demethylases. We further showed that binding of HP1α/β/γ to H3K9me3 peptides is greatly increased in the presence of H3K27me3, and this is dependent on PRC2. These data fit with recent proteomic studies identifying PRC2 as an indirect H3K9me3 binder in mouse tissues and suggest the existence of a cooperative mechanism of HP1α anchorage at chromatin involving H3 methylation on both K9 and K27 residues.
doi:10.1128/MCB.00205-14
PMCID: PMC4187721  PMID: 25047840
2.  Exogenous loading of a tapasin-dependent peptide onto HLA-B*44:02 can be restored by acid treatment or fixation of target cells 
European journal of immunology  2012;42(6):1417-1428.
Anti-tumor CTLs recognize peptides derived from cellular proteins and presented on MHC class I. One category of peptides recognized by these CTLs is derived from proteins encoded by “cancer-germline” genes, which are specifically expressed in tumors, and therefore represent optimal targets for cancer immunotherapy. Here, we identify an antigenic peptide, which is derived from the MAGE-A1-encoded protein (160-169) and presented to CTLs by HLA-B*44:02. Although this peptide is encoded by MAGE-A1, processed endogenously and presented by tumor cells, the corresponding synthetic peptide is hardly able to sensitize target cells to CTL recognition when pulsed exogenously. Endogenous processing and presentation of this peptide is strictly dependent on the presence of tapasin, which is believed to help peptide loading by stabilizing a peptide-receptive form of HLA-B*44:02. Exogenous loading of the peptide can be dramatically improved by paraformaldehyde fixation of surface molecules or by peptide loading at acidic pH. Either strategy allows efficient exogenous loading of the peptide, presumably by generating or stabilizing a peptide-receptive, empty conformation of the HLA. Altogether, our results indicate a potential drawback of short peptide-based vaccination strategies and offer possible solutions regarding the use of problematic epitopes such as the one described here.
doi:10.1002/eji.201141954
PMCID: PMC3766947  PMID: 22678898
Cytolytic T lymphocytes; MAGE-A1; HLA-B*4402; tumor antigen
3.  Database of T cell-defined human tumor antigens: the 2013 update 
Cancer Immunity  2013;13:15.
The plethora of tumor antigens that have been–and are still being–defined required systematization to provide a comprehensive overview of those tumor antigens that are the most relevant targets for cancer immunotherapy approaches. Here, we provide a new update of a peptide database resource that we initiated many years ago. This database compiles all human antigenic peptides described in the literature that fulfill a set of strict criteria needed to ascertain their actual “tumor antigen” nature, as we aim at guiding scientists and clinicians searching for appropriate cancer vaccine candidates (www.cancerimmunity.org/peptide). In this review, we revisit those criteria in light of recent findings related to antigen processing. We also introduce the 29 new tumor antigens that were selected for this 2013 update. Two of the new peptides show unusual features, which will be briefly discussed. The database now comprises a total of 403 tumor antigenic peptides.
PMCID: PMC3718731  PMID: 23882160
peptide; database; HLA; CD4; CD8; T cell
4.  An Alternative Open Reading Frame of the Human Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor Gene Is Independently Translated and Codes for an Antigenic Peptide of 14 Amino Acids Recognized by Tumor-Infiltrating Cd8 T Lymphocytes 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2001;193(10):1189-1198.
We show that cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) infiltrating a kidney tumor recognize a peptide encoded by an alternative open reading frame (ORF) of the macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF) gene. Remarkably, this alternative ORF, which is translated in many tumors concurrently with the major ORF, is also translated in some tissues that do not produce M-CSF, such as liver and kidney. Such a dissociation of the translation of two overlapping ORFs from the same gene is unexpected. The antigenic peptide encoded by the alternative ORF is presented by human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA)-B*3501 and has a length of 14 residues. Peptide elution indicated that tumor cells naturally present this 14 mer, which is the longest peptide known to be recognized by CTLs. Binding studies of peptide analogues suggest that it binds by its two extremities and bulges out of the HLA groove to compensate for its length.
PMCID: PMC2193327  PMID: 11369790
renal cell carcinoma; HLA-B35; translation; peptide binding; natural peptide
5.  Identification of MAGE-3 Epitopes Presented by HLA-DR Molecules to CD4+ T Lymphocytes  
MAGE-type genes are expressed by many tumors of different histological types and not by normal cells, except for male germline cells, which do not express major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. Therefore, the antigens encoded by MAGE-type genes are strictly tumor specific and common to many tumors. We describe here the identification of the first MAGE-encoded epitopes presented by histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II molecules to CD4+ T lymphocytes. Monocyte-derived dendritic cells were loaded with a MAGE-3 recombinant protein and used to stimulate autologous CD4+ T cells. We isolated CD4+ T cell clones that recognized two different MAGE-3 epitopes, MAGE-3114–127 and MAGE-3121–134, both presented by the HLA-DR13 molecule, which is expressed in 20% of Caucasians. The second epitope is also encoded by MAGE-1, -2, and -6. Our procedure should be applicable to other proteins for the identification of new tumor-specific antigens presented by HLA class II molecules. The knowledge of such antigens will be useful for evaluation of the immune response of cancer patients immunized with proteins or with recombinant viruses carrying entire genes coding for tumor antigens. The use of antigenic peptides presented by class II in addition to peptides presented by class I may also improve the efficacy of therapeutic antitumor vaccination.
PMCID: PMC2192951  PMID: 10049940
human; invariant chain; peptide; tumor; histocompatibility leukocyte antigen class II

Results 1-5 (5)