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J Immunol. 2008 Feb 1;180(3):1526-34.

Distinct CD8+ T cell repertoires primed with agonist and native peptides derived from a tumor-associated antigen.

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Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of California-San Francisco, 513 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Heteroclitic peptides are used to enhance the immunogenicity of tumor-associated Ags to break T cell tolerance to these self-proteins. One such altered peptide ligand (Cap1-6D) has been derived from an epitope in human carcinoembryonic Ag, CEA(605-613) (Cap1). Clinical responses have been seen in colon cancer patients receiving a tumor vaccine comprised of this altered peptide. Whether Cap1-6D serves as a T cell agonist for Cap1-specific T cells or induces different T cells is unknown. We, therefore, examined the T cell repertoires elicited by Cap1-6D and Cap1. Human CTL lines and clones were generated with either Cap1-6D peptide (6D-CTLs) or Cap1 peptide (Cap1-CTLs). The TCR Vbeta usage and functional avidity of the T cells induced in parallel against these target peptides were assessed. The predominant CTL repertoire induced by agonist Cap1-6D is limited to TCR Vbeta1-J2 with homogenous CDR3 lengths. In contrast, the majority of Cap1-CTLs use different Vbeta1 genes and also had diverse CDR3 lengths. 6D-CTLs produce IFN-gamma in response to Cap1-6D peptide with high avidity, but respond with lower avidity to the native Cap1 peptide when compared with the Cap1-CTLs. Nevertheless, 6D-CTLs could still lyse targets bearing the native epitope. Consistent with these functional results, 6D-CTLs possess TCRs that bind Cap-1 peptide/MHC tetramer with higher intensity than Cap1-CTLs but form less stable interactions with peptide/MHC as measured by tetramer decay. These results demonstrate that priming with this CEA-derived altered peptide ligand can induce distinct carcinoembryonic Ag-reactive T cells with different functional capacities.

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