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Eur J Immunol. 1998 Jan;28(1):305-16.

Evidence that HLA class II-restricted human CD4+ T cells specific to p53 self peptides respond to p53 proteins of both wild and mutant forms.

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Department of Neuroscience and Immunology, Kumamoto University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Japan.


By stimulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells of four healthy donors with a mixture of overlapping peptides representing the core domain of p53, we established two CD4+ alphabeta T cell clones and four lines that recognized wild-type and mutant p53 proteins as well as p53 self peptides in an HLA class II-restricted fashion. Two T cell lines established from two unrelated donors reacted to the p53 peptide (p)153-166 and p108-122, respectively, in the context of DP5 molecules. Two T cell clones established from two other unrelated donors were specific for p193-204 in the context of DRB1*1401 and for p153-165 in the context of DP5, respectively. These two T cell clones responded almost equally to both wild-type and four mutant recombinant p53 proteins. The proliferative responses of these T cell clones to p53 recombinant proteins were augmented by heat denaturing, thereby suggesting that altered conformation of the protein facilitates proteolytic processing to produce antigenic peptides. The DRB1*1401-restricted T cell clone specific for p193-204 killed a B lymphoblastoid cell line homozygous for HLA-DRB1*1401 when the cell line was pre-pulsed with p53 protein as well as peptide. These results indicate that CD4+ T cells reactive to p53 do exist in healthy individuals and the epitopes are probably ignored by the immune system under physiological conditions. It is suggested that such epitopes stimulate T cells to induce anti-p53 antibody production in cancer patients as previously reported by others. The possible involvement of p53-reactive T cells in anti-tumor immunity is discussed.

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