Heat shock protein 70/peptide complexes: Potent mediators for the generation of antiviral T cells particularly with regard to low precursor frequencies

Sabine Tischer, Megan Basila, Britta Maecker-Kolhoff, Stephan Immenschuh, Mathias Oelke, Rainer Blasczyk, Britta Eiz-Vesper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) has gained major attention as an adjuvant capable of inducing antigen-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T-cell responses. The ability of HSP70/peptide complexes to elicit cytotoxic T-cell (CTL) responses by cross-presentation of exogenous antigens via HLA class I molecules is of central interest in immunotherapy. We examined the role of HSP70/CMVpp65495-503-peptide complex (HSP70/CMV-PC) in HLA class I-restricted cross-presentation for ex vivo expansion of CMV-specific CTLs.Methods: CMV-specific T cells generated from PBMCs of HLA-A*02:01/CMV-seropositive donors were stimulated for 21 days with HSP70/CMV-PC and analyzed in functional assays. As a control PBMCs were cultured in the presence of CMVpp65495-503 peptide or HSP70. Increase of CMV-specific CTLs was visualized by pentameric HLA-A*02:01/CMVpp65495-503 complex.Results: About 90% of HSP70/CMV-PC generated T cells were CMV-specific and exhibited significantly higher IFN-γ secretion, cytotoxic activity, and an increased heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) gene expression as compared to about 69% of those stimulated with CMVpp65495-503 peptide. We decided to classify the HLA-A*02:01/CMV-seropositive donors as weak, medium, and strong responder according to the frequency of generated A2/CMV-pentamer-positive CD8+ T cells. HSP70/CMV-PC significantly induces strong antiviral T-cell responses especially in those donors with low memory precursor frequencies. Blockage of CD91 with α2-macroglobulin markedly reduced proliferation of antiviral T cells suggesting a major role of this receptor in the uptake of HSP70/CMV-PC.Conclusion: This study clearly demonstrates that HSP70/CMV-PC is a potent mediator to induce stronger T-cell responses compared to antiviral peptides. This simple and efficient technique may help to generate significant quantities of antiviral CTLs by cross-presentation. Thus, we propose HSP70 for chaperoning peptides to reach an efficient level of cross-presentation. HSP70/peptide complexes may be particularly useful to generate stronger T-cell responses in cases of low precursor frequencies and may help to improve the efficiency of antigen-specific T-cell therapy for minor antigens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number175
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 12 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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