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Eur J Immunol. 2009 Mar;39(3):704-16. doi: 10.1002/eji.200838901.

CTL induction by cross-priming is restricted to immunodominant epitopes.

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Department of Clinical Research, University of Berne, Berne, Switzerland.


CTL are induced by two pathways, i.e. direct priming, where tumor cells present tumor antigens to naïve specific CTL, and cross-priming, where professional APC cross-present captured tumor antigens to CTL. Here, we examined direct priming versus cross-priming after immunizing (H-2(b) x H-2(d)) F1 mice with either H-2(b) or H-2(d) positive tumor cells transfected with the GP or nucleoprotein (NP) of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). Cross-priming was observed for the immunodominant epitopes LCMV-gp33 and -np118, although direct induction resulted in higher CTL frequencies. In contrast, CTL specific for the subdominant epitopes LCMV-gp283 or -np396 were induced only if epitopes were presented directly on MHC class I molecules of the immunizing cell. The broader repertoire and the higher CTL frequencies induced after vaccination with haplotype-matched tumor cells resulted in more efficient anti-tumor and antiviral protection. Firstly, our results indicate that certain virus and tumor antigens may not be detected by CD8(+) T cells because of impaired cross-priming. Secondly, efficient cross-priming contributes to the immunodominant nature of a tumor-specific CTL epitope. Thirdly, vaccine strategies using autologous or syngenic antigen-expressing cells induce a broader repertoire of tumor-specific CTL and higher CTL frequencies.

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