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J Immunol. 1991 Aug 15;147(4):1433-8.

Mechanism of cytolytic T lymphocyte killing of a low class I-expressing tumor.

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Division of Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, NY 14642.


Many tumors have been shown to express minimal levels of class I MHC Ag, which makes them more resistant to recognition and lysis by cytolytic T lymphocytes. Line 1, a BALB/c spontaneous lung carcinoma, normally expresses very low levels of class I Ag, but expression can be increased 50-fold by treatment with agents such as DMSO or IFN-gamma. Because class I Ag serve as restricting elements for cytolytic T cell recognition of tumor Ag, we wished to determine if cytotoxic T lymphocytes could play a role in the immune response to this type of class I low, but inducible, tumor. After immunization in vivo and restimulation of splenic cells in vitro we were able to generate T cell clones that lysed line 1 cells induced to express high levels of class I, but did not lyse uninduced, low class I expressing line 1 cells in short term (6-h) 51Cr release assays. Paradoxically, incubation of the T cells with uninduced class I low line 1 cells for a few days resulted in complete destruction of the tumor cells. We demonstrate that the T cells, stimulated by the tumor cells, produce IFN-gamma, which in turn induces class I expression on the line 1 cells making them susceptible to lysis by the T cell clone. This suggests that a positive feedback reaction can occur in generating a response to this and perhaps other inducible tumor cell lines.

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