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J Biol Chem. 2006 Oct 27;281(43):32676-83. Epub 2006 Sep 1.

Isoaspartyl post-translational modification triggers anti-tumor T and B lymphocyte immunity.

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  • 1Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


A hallmark of the immune system is the ability to ignore self-antigens. In attempts to bypass normal immune tolerance, a post-translational protein modification was introduced into self-antigens to break T and B cell tolerance. We demonstrate that immune tolerance is bypassed by immunization with a post-translationally modified melanoma antigen. In particular, the conversion of an aspartic acid to an isoaspartic acid within the melanoma antigen tyrosinase-related protein (TRP)-2 peptide-(181-188) makes the otherwise immunologically ignored TRP-2 antigen immunogenic. Tetramer analysis of iso-Asp TRP-2 peptide-immunized mice demonstrated that CD8+ T cells not only recognized the isoaspartyl TRP-2 peptide but also the native TRP-2 peptide. These CD8+ T cells functioned as cytotoxic T lymphocytes, as they effectively lysed TRP-2 peptide-pulsed targets both in vitro and in vivo. Potentially, post-translational protein modification can be utilized to trigger strong immune responses to either tumor proteins or potentially weakly immunogenic pathogens.

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