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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 4;8(6):e64365. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064365. Print 2013.

Identification and enhancement of HLA-A2.1-restricted CTL epitopes in a new human cancer antigen-POTE.

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Institute of Clinical Medicine, Infection and Immunity Research Center, National Yang-Ming University, Division of Gastroenterology, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.


Identification of CD8(+) T cell epitopes that can induce T cells to kill tumor cells is a fundamental step for development of a peptide cancer vaccine. POTE protein is a newly identified cancer antigen that was found to be expressed in a wide variety of human cancers, including prostate, colon, lung, breast, ovary and pancreas. Here, we determined HLA-A2.1-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes in the POTE protein, and also designed enhanced epitopes by amino acid (AA) substitutions. Five 9-mer peptides were first selected and their binding affinity to HLA-A2 molecules was measured by the T2 binding assay. POTE 272-280 and POTE 323-331 showed the strongest HLA-A2 binding affinity. AA substituted peptides POTE 252-9V (with valine at position 9), POTE 553-1Y (with tyrosine at position 1) and POTE 323-3F (with phenylalanine at position 3) conferred higher affinity for HLA-A2, and induced CTL responses cross-reactive with wild type antigens. While POTE 252-9V was the strongest in this respect, POTE 323-3F had the greatest increase in immunogenicity compared to wild type. Importantly, two modified epitopes (POTE-553-1Y and POTE-323-3F) induced CTLs that killed NCI-H522, a POTE-expressing HLA-A2(+) human non-small cell lung cancer cell line, indicating natural endogenous processing of these epitopes. In conclusion, the immunogenicity of POTE epitopes can be enhanced by peptide modification to induce T cells that kill human cancer cells. A combination of POTE 553-1Y and POTE 323-3F epitopes might be an attractive vaccine strategy for HLA-A2 cancer patients to overcome tolerance induced by tumors and prevent escape.

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