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Immunity. 2000 Oct;13(4):529-38.

Enhanced antigen-specific antitumor immunity with altered peptide ligands that stabilize the MHC-peptide-TCR complex.

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Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21231, USA.


T cell responsiveness to an epitope is affected both by its affinity for the presenting MHC molecule and the affinity of the MHC-peptide complex for TCR. One limitation of cancer immunotherapy is that natural tumor antigens elicit relatively weak T cell responses, in part because high-affinity T cells are rendered tolerant to these antigens. We report here that amino acid substitutions in a natural MHC class I-restricted tumor antigen that increase the stability of the MHC-peptide-TCR complex are significantly more potent as tumor vaccines. The improved immunity results from enhanced in vivo expansion of T cells specific for the natural tumor epitope. These results indicate peptides that stabilize the MHC-peptide-TCR complex may provide superior antitumor immunity through enhanced stimulation of specific T cells.

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