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1.  Sugars boost exhausted tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes by counteracting immunosuppressive activities of galectins 
Oncoimmunology  2014;3:e28783.
Galectins released by tumor cells and macrophages can bind surface glycoproteins of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), forming glycoprotein-galectin lattices with immunosuppressive activities. Specifically, TILs covered by galectin-3 are unable to secrete cytokines after stimulation. Treating TILs ex vivo with galectin antagonists for a few hours boosts their functions. Several galectin antagonists are currently available for clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC4091051  PMID: 25097806
galectin; tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte; tumor; immunosuppression; human; dysfunction; glycobiology
2.  Absence of recognition of common melanocytic antigens by T cells isolated from the cerebrospinal fluid of a Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada patient 
Molecular Vision  2014;20:956-969.
Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada (VKH) syndrome is an autoimmune disease characterized by inaugural uveomeningitidis and hearing loss and at late stages a depigmentation in eyes and skin. Melanocytes are the cells common to the four affected tissues, namely eye, brain, inner ear, and skin. Melanocytes are therefore considered as the source of self-antigens. The melanocytic proteins tyrosinase-related protein-1 (TRP1), TRP2, tyrosinase, and gp100 have been proposed as the proteins targeted by autoreactive T cells from VKH patients bearing human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DRB1*04:05, the HLA allele classically associated with VKH disease. The objective of this work was to determine the antigens recognized by a large number of potentially autoreactive CD4 T lymphocytes obtained from the cerebrospinal fluid of one VKH patient who did not express HLA-DRB1*04:05.
T cells were isolated from the cerebrospinal fluid of a newly diagnosed HLA-DRB1*14:01,*15:03;-DPB1*01:01,*04:02 patient in the acute phase of the VKH disease and cloned by limiting dilution. Each of the 107 T cell clones, of which 90% were CD4+, was tested for its ability to secrete cytokines upon contact with autologous antigen-presenting cells loaded with either of the melanocytic proteins TRP1, TRP2, tyrosinase, gp100, Melan-A and KU-MEL-1. The sensitivity of our recombinant bacteria-based approach was validated with a CD4 T cell clone with known antigen specificity. The ability of each of the 107 clones to secrete cytokines upon nonspecific stimulation was verified.
None of the 107 T cell clones was able to secrete tumor necrosis factor-α, interferon-γ, interleukin (IL)-5, or IL-17 upon contact with autologous B cells loaded with any of the six common melanocytic proteins. Nine clones secreted high-level IL-17 upon stimulation with beads coated with antibodies.
The self-antigens that triggered the VKH disease in this patient probably derive from proteins other than the six melanocytic proteins mentioned above. Further study of antigens that are recognized by potential autoreactive T cells from VKH patients is likely to benefit from testing a broader set of melanocytic proteins.
PMCID: PMC4077848  PMID: 24991188
3.  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.
PMCID: PMC3766947  PMID: 22678898
Cytolytic T lymphocytes; MAGE-A1; HLA-B*4402; tumor antigen
4.  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 ( 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
5.  IRF1 and NF-kB Restore MHC Class I-Restricted Tumor Antigen Processing and Presentation to Cytotoxic T Cells in Aggressive Neuroblastoma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46928.
Neuroblastoma (NB), the most common solid extracranial cancer of childhood, displays a remarkable low expression of Major Histocompatibility Complex class I (MHC-I) and Antigen Processing Machinery (APM) molecules, including Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) Aminopeptidases, and poorly presents tumor antigens to Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes (CTL). We have previously shown that this is due to low expression of the transcription factor NF-kB p65. Herein, we show that not only NF-kB p65, but also the Interferon Regulatory Factor 1 (IRF1) and certain APM components are low in a subset of NB cell lines with aggressive features. Whereas single transfection with either IRF1, or NF-kB p65 is ineffective, co-transfection results in strong synergy and substantial reversion of the MHC-I/APM-low phenotype in all NB cell lines tested. Accordingly, linked immunohistochemistry expression patterns between nuclear IRF1 and p65 on the one hand, and MHC-I on the other hand, were observed in vivo. Absence and presence of the three molecules neatly segregated between high-grade and low-grade NB, respectively. Finally, APM reconstitution by double IRF1/p65 transfection rendered a NB cell line susceptible to killing by anti MAGE-A3 CTLs, lytic efficiency comparable to those seen upon IFN-γ treatment. This is the first demonstration that a complex immune escape phenotype can be rescued by reconstitution of a limited number of master regulatory genes. These findings provide molecular insight into defective MHC-I expression in NB cells and provide the rational for T cell-based immunotherapy in NB variants refractory to conventional therapy.
PMCID: PMC3465322  PMID: 23071666
6.  Immune Suppression in Tumors as a Surmountable Obstacle to Clinical Efficacy of Cancer Vaccines 
Cancers  2011;3(3):2904-2954.
Human tumors are usually not spontaneously eliminated by the immune system and therapeutic vaccination of cancer patients with defined antigens is followed by tumor regressions only in a small minority of the patients. The poor vaccination effectiveness could be explained by an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Because T cells that infiltrate tumor metastases have an impaired ability to lyse target cells or to secrete cytokine, many researchers are trying to decipher the underlying immunosuppressive mechanisms. We will review these here, in particular those considered as potential therapeutic targets. A special attention will be given to galectins, a family of carbohydrate binding proteins. These lectins have often been implicated in inflammation and cancer and may be useful targets for the development of new anti-cancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC3759179  PMID: 24212939
anergy; immunosuppression; cancer vaccines; galectin; tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes
7.  Characterization of the Fine Specificity of Bovine CD8 T-Cell Responses to Defined Antigens from the Protozoan Parasite Theileria parva▿  
Infection and Immunity  2007;76(2):685-694.
Immunity against the bovine intracellular protozoan parasite Theileria parva has been shown to be mediated by CD8 T cells. Six antigens targeted by CD8 T cells from T. parva-immune cattle of different major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genotypes have been identified, raising the prospect of developing a subunit vaccine. To facilitate further dissection of the specificity of protective CD8 T-cell responses and to assist in the assessment of responses to vaccination, we set out to identify the epitopes recognized in these T. parva antigens and their MHC restriction elements. Nine epitopes in six T. parva antigens, together with their respective MHC restriction elements, were successfully identified. Five of the cytotoxic-T-lymphocyte epitopes were found to be restricted by products of previously described alleles, and four were restricted by four novel restriction elements. Analyses of CD8 T-cell responses to five of the epitopes in groups of cattle carrying the defined restriction elements and immunized with live parasites demonstrated that, with one exception, the epitopes were consistently recognized by animals of the respective genotypes. The analysis of responses was extended to animals immunized with multiple antigens delivered in separate vaccine constructs. Specific CD8 T-cell responses were detected in 19 of 24 immunized cattle. All responder cattle mounted responses specific for antigens for which they carried an identified restriction element. By contrast, only 8 of 19 responder cattle displayed a response to antigens for which they did not carry an identified restriction element. These data demonstrate that the identified antigens are inherently dominant in animals with the corresponding MHC genotypes.
PMCID: PMC2223472  PMID: 18070892
8.  A novel strategy for the identification of antigens that are recognised by bovine MHC class I restricted cytotoxic T cells in a protozoan infection using reverse vaccinology 
Immunome Research  2007;3:2.
Immunity against the bovine protozoan parasite Theileria parva has previously been shown to be mediated through lysis of parasite-infected cells by MHC class I restricted CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes. It is hypothesized that identification of CTL target schizont antigens will aid the development of a sub-unit vaccine. We exploited the availability of the complete genome sequence data and bioinformatics tools to identify genes encoding secreted or membrane anchored proteins that may be processed and presented by the MHC class I molecules of infected cells to CTL.
Of the 986 predicted open reading frames (ORFs) encoded by chromosome 1 of the T. parva genome, 55 were selected based on the presence of a signal peptide and/or a transmembrane helix domain. Thirty six selected ORFs were successfully cloned into a eukaryotic expression vector, transiently transfected into immortalized bovine skin fibroblasts and screened in vitro using T. parva-specific CTL. Recognition of gene products by CTL was assessed using an IFN-γ ELISpot assay. A 525 base pair ORF encoding a 174 amino acid protein, designated Tp2, was identified by T. parva-specific CTL from 4 animals. These CTL recognized and lysed Tp2 transfected skin fibroblasts and recognized 4 distinct epitopes. Significantly, Tp2 specific CD8+ T cell responses were observed during the protective immune response against sporozoite challenge.
The identification of an antigen containing multiple CTL epitopes and its apparent immunodominance during a protective anti-parasite response makes Tp2 an attractive candidate for evaluation of its vaccine potential.
PMCID: PMC1802067  PMID: 17291333
9.  The Production of a New MAGE-3 Peptide Presented to Cytolytic T Lymphocytes by HLA-B40 Requires the Immunoproteasome 
By stimulating human CD8+ T lymphocytes with autologous dendritic cells infected with an adenovirus encoding MAGE-3, we obtained a cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clone that recognized a new MAGE-3 antigenic peptide, AELVHFLLL, which is presented by HLA-B40. This peptide is also encoded by MAGE-12. The CTL clone recognized MAGE-3–expressing tumor cells only when they were first treated with IFN-γ. Since this treatment is known to induce the exchange of the three catalytic subunits of the proteasome to form the immunoproteasome, this result suggested that the processing of this MAGE-3 peptide required the immunoproteasome. Transfection experiments showed that the substitution of β5i (LMP7) for β5 is necessary and sufficient for producing the peptide, whereas a mutated form of β5i (LMP7) lacking the catalytically active site was ineffective. Mass spectrometric analyses of in vitro digestions of a long precursor peptide with either proteasome type showed that the immunoproteasome produced the antigenic peptide more efficiently, whereas the standard proteasome more efficiently introduced cleavages destroying the antigenic peptide. This is the first example of a tumor-specific antigen exclusively presented by tumor cells expressing the immunoproteasome.
PMCID: PMC2193621  PMID: 11854353
β5i; proteasome; mass spectrometry; tumor; HLA-B40
10.  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 1-10 (10)