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Clin Cancer Res. 2010 Mar 1;16(5):1642-51. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-2701. Epub 2010 Feb 16.

Diverse patterns of T-cell response against multiple newly identified human Y chromosome-encoded minor histocompatibility epitopes.

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Division of Hematologic Malignancies, Cancer Vaccine Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Donor T cells respond to minor histocompatibility antigens (mHA), resulting in both graft-versus-host disease and graft versus leukemia after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Because relatively few mHAs are known, we developed a new approach to predict and subsequently validate candidate mHA.


We developed an algorithm based on genetic disparities between Y chromosome-encoded and X chromosome-encoded proteins and known requirements for binding to HLA class I molecules to predict Y chromosome-derived, HLA A*0201-restricted peptides (HY) and ranked peptides based on potential immunogenicity. We evaluated T-cell responses to 41 candidate peptides in 28 male recipients with female donors (FM), 22 male recipients with male donors (MM), and 26 normal individuals. All patients and donors were HLA A*0201 positive.


Thirteen peptides derived from five proteins elicited significantly greater T-cell responses in FM patients compared with MM patients and in normal females compared with normal males. Six peptides were more immunogenic than the only previously known HLA A*0201-restricted Y-encoded mHA. Twenty-seven of 28 FM patients responded to at least one HY peptide, but despite a common Y chromosome mismatch and expression of HLA A*0201, each patient responded to a unique set of peptides.


Novel HLA A*0201-restricted HY epitopes can be predicted and validated in patients after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Highly diverse patterns of T-cell response against these epitopes have been identified. Prospective monitoring of responses to large panels of immunogenic peptides can facilitate the identification of clinically relevant targets of graft-versus-host disease and graft versus leukemia.

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