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Cancer Res. 2010 Aug 1;70(15):6181-92. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-0678. Epub 2010 Jul 20.

Single-cell analysis of T-cell receptor repertoire of HTLV-1 Tax-specific cytotoxic T cells in allogeneic transplant recipients with adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma.

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Division of Hematology, Saitama Medical Center, Jichi Medical University, Saitama City, Saitama, Japan.


Adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) is a lymphoproliferative malignancy associated with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) infection. Recently, it has been shown that allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) is an effective treatment for ATL, and that HTLV-1 Tax-specific CD8(+) cytotoxic T cells (CTL) contribute to the graft-versus-ATL effect. In the present study, we, for the first time, analyzed the T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire of isolated Tax(301-309) (SFHSLHLLF)-specific CTLs in HLA-A*2402(+) ATL patients before and after allo-HSCT by single-cell reverse transcription-PCR. The Tax(301-309)-specific CTLs in bone marrow and peripheral blood showed highly restricted oligoclonal diversity. In addition, a unique conserved amino acid motif of "P-D/P-R" in TCR-beta complementarity-determining region 3 in either BV7- or BV18-expressing CTLs was observed not only in all of the samples from ATL patients, but also in samples from the same patient before and after HSCT. Furthermore, the P-D/P-R motif-bearing CTL clones established from peripheral blood samples after HSCT exhibited strong killing activity against the HTLV-1-infected T cells of the patient. CTL clones were not established in vitro from samples prior to allo-HSCT. In addition, CTL clones with a strong killing activity were enriched in vivo after HSCT in the patient. Hence, Tax(301-309)-specific CTLs in ATL patients might have a preference for TCR construction and induce strong immune responses against the HTLV-1-infected T cells of patients, which contribute to the graft-versus-ATL effects after allo-HSCT. However, further analyses with a larger number of patients and more frequent sampling after allo-HSCT is required to confirm these findings.

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