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Leuk Lymphoma. 2001 Jul;42(3):267-73.

Immunotherapy for leukemia targeting the Wilms' tumor gene.

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First Department of Internal Medicine, Ehime University School of Medicine, Shigenobu, Ehime 791-0295, Japan.


The Wilms' tumor (WT1) gene encodes a zinc finger transcription factor, which is preferentially expressed in acute leukemia cells and chronic myelogenous leukemia cells in blast crisis, but not in most normal cells. These findings strongly suggest that WT1 is a potential target of immunotherapy for human leukemia. We have established a CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clone, designated TAK-1, which is specific for a WT1-derived 9-mer peptide consisting of HLA-A24-binding anchor motifs. TAK-1 lysed both HLA-A24-positive allogeneic cells and autologous cells that were loaded with a WT1-derived peptide. TAK-1 was cytotoxic to HLA-A24-positive leukemia cells, but not to HLA-A24-positive lymphoma cells that did not express WT1, to HLA-A24-negative leukemia cells, or to HLA-A24-positive normal cells. Treating leukemia cells with an antisense oligonucleotide complementary to WT1 reduced TAK-1-mediated cytotoxicity. TAK-1 did not inhibit colony formation of HLA-A24-positive normal bone marrow cells. Recently, other groups have also reported the establishment of HLA-A2-restricted anti-leukemic CTLs specific for WT1-derived peptide. In addition, a murine model of immunotherapy against WT1-expressing tumors has been reported. Recent studies have demonstrated that WT1 is also aberrantly expressed in various kinds of cancer cells. Taken together, these results suggest that immunotherapy targeting WT1 should be effective against both solid tumors and leukemia.

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