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J Exp Med. 2003 Jan 20;197(2):163-8.

Human T cell receptor gammadelta cells recognize endogenous mevalonate metabolites in tumor cells.

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Experimental Immunology, Department of Research, University Hospital, University of Basel, Hebelstrasse 20, CH-4031 Basel, Switzerland.


T lymphocytes expressing the T cell receptor (TCR)-gammadelta recognize unknown antigens on tumor cells. Here we identify metabolites of the mevalonate pathway as the tumor ligands that activate TCR-gammadelta cells. In tumor cells, blockade of hydroxy-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGR), the rate limiting enzyme of the mevalonate pathway, prevents both accumulation of mevalonate metabolites and recognition by TCR-gammadelta cells. When metabolite accumulation is induced by overexpressing HMGR or by treatment with nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate drugs, tumor cells derived from many tissues acquire the capacity to stimulate the same TCR-gammadelta population. Accumulation of mevalonate metabolites in tumor cells is a powerful danger signal that activates the immune response and may represent a novel target of tumor immunotherapy.

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