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Blood. 2011 Aug 25;118(8):2159-69. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-04-349951. Epub 2011 Jun 30.

Characterization of immunologic properties of a second HLA-A2 epitope from a granule protease in CML patients and HLA-A2 transgenic mice.

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  • 1Division of Translational Vaccine Research, Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope, Duarte, CA, USA.


The serine proteases, neutrophil elastase (HNE) and proteinase 3 (PR3), are aberrantly expressed in human myeloid leukemias. T-cell responses to these proteins have been correlated with remission in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Human PR3/HNE-specific CD8(+) T cells predominantly recognize a nonameric HLA-A2-restricted T-cell epitope called PR1 which is conserved in both Ags. However, CML patients have CD8(+) T cells in peripheral blood recognizing an additional HLA-A2 epitope termed PR2. To assess immunologic properties of these Ags, novel recombinant vaccinia viruses (rVV) expressing PR3 and HNE were evaluated in HLA-A2 transgenic (Tg) mice (HHDII). Immunization of HHDII mice with rVV-PR3 elicited a robust PR3-specific CD8(+) T-cell response dominated by recognition of PR2, with minimal recognition of the PR1 epitope. This result was unexpected, because the PR2 peptide has been reported to bind poorly to HLA. To account for these findings, we proposed that HHDII mice negatively selected PR1-specific T cells because of the presence of this epitope within murine PR3 and HNE, leading to immunodominance of PR2-specific responses. PR2-specific splenocytes are cytotoxic to targets expressing naturally processed PR3, though PR1-specific splenocytes are not. We conclude that PR2 represents a functional T-cell epitope recognized in mice and human leukemia patients. These studies are registered at as NCT00716911.

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