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Int J Cancer. 1997 Jan 27;70(3):302-9.

Analogues of CTL epitopes with improved MHC class-I binding capacity elicit anti-melanoma CTL recognizing the wild-type epitope.

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Department of Tumor Immunology, University Hospital Nijmegen St. Radboud, The Netherlands.


The MHC class-I binding affinity of an epitope is an important parameter determining the immunogenicity of the peptide-MHC complex. In order to improve the immunogenicity of an epitope derived from melanocyte lineage-specific antigen gp100, we performed amino-acid substitutions within the epitope and assayed both HLA-A*0201 binding and CTL recognition. Anchor replacements towards the HLA-A*0201 peptide-binding motif gave rise to peptides with higher HLA-A*0201 binding capacity compared to the wild-type epitope. In addition, several of the gp100 154-162 epitope-analogues were more efficient at target-cell sensitization for lysis by anti-gp100 154-162 CTL compared to the wild-type epitope. These altered gp100 154-162 epitopes were subsequently tested for their capacity to induce CTL responses in vivo using HLA-A*0201/Kb transgenic mice, and in vitro using HLA-A*0201 + donor-derived lymphocytes. Interestingly, the peptide-specific CTL obtained, which were raised against the different gp100 154-162 epitope-analogues, displayed cross-reactivity with target cells endogenously processing and presenting the native epitope. These data demonstrate that altered epitopes can be exploited to elicit native epitope-reactive CTL. The use of epitope-analogues with improved immunogenicity may contribute to the development of CTL-epitope based vaccines in viral disease and cancer.

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