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Cancer Res. 2008 Nov 15;68(22):9459-68. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-2634.

Regulated expression of a tumor-associated antigen reveals multiple levels of T-cell tolerance in a mouse model of lung cancer.

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  • 1Koch Institute and Department of Biology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.


Maximizing the potential of cancer immunotherapy requires model systems that closely recapitulate human disease to study T-cell responses to tumor antigens and to test immunotherapeutic strategies. We have created a new system that is compatible with Cre-LoxP-regulatable mouse cancer models in which the SIY antigen is specifically overexpressed in tumors, mimicking clinically relevant TAAs. To show the utility of this system, we have characterized SIY-reactive T cells in the context of lung adenocarcinoma, revealing multiple levels of antigen-specific T-cell tolerance that serve to limit an effective antitumor response. Thymic deletion reduced the number of SIY-reactive T cells present in the animals. When potentially self-reactive T cells in the periphery were activated, they were efficiently eliminated. Inhibition of apoptosis resulted in more persistent self-reactive T cells, but these cells became anergic to antigen stimulation. Finally, in the presence of tumors overexpressing SIY, SIY-specific T cells required a higher level of costimulation to achieve functional activation. This system represents a valuable tool in which to explore sources contributing to T-cell tolerance of cancer and to test therapies aimed at overcoming this tolerance.

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