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Leukemia. 2002 Dec;16(12):2400-7.

Leukemia-associated fusion proteins, dek-can and bcr-abl, represent immunogenic HLA-DR-restricted epitopes recognized by fusion peptide-specific CD4+ T lymphocytes.

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First Department of Internal Medicine, Ehime University School of Medicine, Ehime, Japan.


Although CD4(+) helper T lymphocytes have been demonstrated to play an important role in antitumor immune response, only a few epitopes of tumor-associated antigens recognized by HLA class II-restricted CD4(+) T lymphocytes have been identified. In the present study, we addressed the question of whether leukemia-associated fusion proteins are recognized by CD4(+) T lymphocytes. Immature dendritic cells (DCs) were loaded with necrotic or apoptotic leukemia cells with t(6;9) or t(9;22) and then cocultured with the dek-can fusion peptide-specific or the bcr-abl fusion peptide-specific CD4(+) T lymphocyte clone. The dek-can peptide-specific and bcr-abl peptide-specific CD4(+) T lymphocyte clones produced interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) when they were cocultured with HLA-DR-matched but not with mismatched DCs which had been loaded with apoptotic as well as necrotic leukemia cells with t(6;9) and t(9;22), respectively. IFN-gamma production by CD4(+)T lymphocyte clones in response to stimulation with DCs loaded with leukemia cells was inhibited by the anti-HLA-DR monoclonal antibody. These data indicate that the acute myelogenous leukemia-associated fusion protein, dek-can, and chronic myelogenous leukemia-associated fusion protein, bcr-abl, are both processed and presented by DCs to the fusion peptide-specific CD4(+) T lymphocytes.

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