The activation and recruitment of CD4+ T cells are critical for the development of efficient antitumor immunity and may allow for the optimization of current cancer immunotherapy strategies. Searching for more optimal and selective targets for CD4+ T cells, we have investigated phosphopeptides, a new category of tumor-derived epitopes linked to proteins with vital cellular functions. Although MHC I-restricted phosphopeptides have been identified, it was previously unknown whether human MHC II molecules present phosphopeptides for specific CD4+ T cell recognition. We first demonstrated the fine specificity of human CD4+ T cells to discriminate a phosphoresidue by using cells raised against the candidate melanoma antigen mutant B-Raf or its phosphorylated counterpart. Then, we assessed the presence and complexity of human MHC II-associated phosphopeptides by analyzing 2 autologous pairs of melanoma and EBV-transformed B lymphoblastoid lines. By using sequential affinity isolation, biochemical enrichment, mass spectrometric sequencing, and comparative analysis, a total of 175 HLA-DR-associated phosphopeptides were characterized. Many were derived from source proteins that may have roles in cancer development, growth, and metastasis. Most were expressed exclusively by either melanomas or transformed B cells, suggesting the potential to define cell type-specific phosphatome "fingerprints." We then generated HLA-DRβ1*0101-restricted CD4+ T cells specific for a phospho-MART-1 peptide identified in both melanoma cell lines. These T cells showed specificity for phosphopeptide-pulsed antigen-presenting cells as well as for intact melanoma cells. This previously undescribed demonstration of MHC II-restricted phosphopeptides recognizable by human CD4+ T cells provides potential new targets for cancer immunotherapy.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jul 21 2009|
- Tumor antigen
- Tumor immunology
ASJC Scopus subject areas