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Cytokine. 2003 Nov 21;24(4):128-42.

Enhanced expression of lymphotactin by CD8+ T cells is selectively induced by enhancer agonist peptides of tumor-associated antigens.

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Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Human tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) are weak immunogens. One strategy for increasing the immunogenicity of TAAs is to generate altered peptide ligands. In the studies reported here, microarray technology has been used to compare gene expression profiles of a human T cell line that was derived from the peripheral blood of a cancer patient vaccinated with a carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)-based vaccine. We compared the gene expression profiles of this CEA-specific CD8 T cell line when (a) stimulated with the native peptide used to derive this line vs. no peptide, and (b) stimulated with its TCR enhancer agonist epitope vs. no peptide. The results demonstrate that the effect on the T cell line, when stimulated with the agonist peptide, is not an enhanced quantitative expression of the same genes or gene sets induced by the native peptide, but is rather a nearly reciprocal upregulation of different gene sets. The gene for the chemokine lymphotactin, which was overexpressed only in T cells stimulated with the agonist peptide, stood out above all others. This finding was extended using other T cell lines, and another set of agonist and native peptides from another TAA. ELISPOT and ELISA assays for lymphotactin confirmed and extended these findings. These studies suggest a potential role for lymphotactin in the T-cell activation processes and subsequent anti-tumor events.

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