Project description:Upon tumor antigen recognition, cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and target cells form specialized supramolecular structures, called cytotoxic immunological synapses, which are required for polarized delivery of cytotoxic granules. In previous reports, we described the accumulation of connexin 43 (Cx43)-formed gap junctions (GJs) at natural killer (NK) cell-tumor cell cytotoxic immunological synapse. In this report, we demonstrate the functional role of Cx43-GJs at the cytotoxic immunological synapse established between CTLs and melanoma cells during cytotoxicity. Using confocal microscopy, we evaluated Cx43 polarization to the contact site between CTLs isolated from pMEL-1 mice and B16F10 melanoma cells. We knocked down Cx43 expression in B16F10 cells and evaluated its role in the formation of functional GJs and the cytotoxic activity of CTLs, by calcein transfer and granzyme B activity assays, respectively. We found that Cx43 localizes at CTL/B16F10 intercellular contact sites via an antigen-dependent process. We also found that pMEL-1 CTLs but not wild-type naïve CD8+ T cells established functional GJs with B16F10 cells. Interestingly, we observed that Cx43-GJs were required for an efficient granzyme B activity in target B16F10 cells. Using an HLA-A2-restricted/MART-1-specific CD8+ T-cell clone, we confirmed these observations in human cells. Our results suggest that Cx43-channels are relevant components of cytotoxic immunological synapses and potentiate CTL-mediated tumor cell killing.
Project description:We report here the identification of a new shared human melanoma antigen recognized by a human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A*68011-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocyte clone (CTL 128). The cDNA encoding this antigen is composed of a partially spliced form of the melanocyte differentiation antigen tyrosinase-related protein (TRP)-2, containing exons 1-4 with retention of intron 2 and part of intron 4 (TRP-2-INT2). The sequence coding for the antigenic epitope is located at the 5' end of intron 2 and is available for translation in the same open reading frame of the fully spliced TRP-2 mRNA. This peptide is also recognized by CTL 128 when presented by the HLA-A*3301, a member of the HLA-A3-like supertype that includes the HLA-A*68011. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR analysis carried out on total and/or cytoplasmic mRNA demonstrated that, in contrast to the fully spliced TRP-2 mRNA expressed in melanomas, normal skin melanocytes, and retina, the TRP-2-INT2 mRNA could be detected at significant levels in melanomas but not in normal cells of the melanocytic lineage. Instead, in these normal samples, both the spliced and the unspliced transcript of gp100 were expressed at high levels. Absence of endogenous TRP-2-INT2 expression in melanocytes was also confirmed by lack of recognition of HLA-A*68011-transduced, TRP-2(+) melanocyte lines by CTL 128. These results indicate that a partially spliced form of a differentiation antigen mRNA, present in the cytoplasmic compartment of neoplastic but not normal cells of the melanocytic lineage, can be the source of a melanoma-restricted T cell epitope.
Project description:Noncoding regions of the genome play an important role in tumorigenesis of cancer. Using expression cloning, we have identified a cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-defined antigen that recognizes a protein sequence derived from an open reading frame transcribed from the reverse strand in the 3' untranslated region of tRNA isopentenyltransferase 1 (TRIT1). A peptide derived from this open reading frame (ORF) sequence and predicted to bind to HLA-B57, sensitized HLA-B57(+) tumor cells to lysis by CTL793. The peptide also induced a CTL response in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of patient 793 and in two other melanoma patients. The CTL lysed peptide-pulsed HLA-B57(+) target cells and melanoma cells with endogenous antigen expression. The recognition of this antigen is not limited to HLA-B57-restricted CTLs. An HLA-A2 peptide derived from the ORF was able to induce CTLs in PBMC of 2 HLA-A2(+) patients. This study describes for the first time a CTL-defined melanoma antigen that is derived from an ORF on the reverse strand of the putative tumor suppressor gene TRIT1. This antigen has potential use as a vaccine or its ability to induce CTLs in vitro could be used as a predictive biomarker.
Project description:PURPOSE:Inefficient homing of adoptively transferred cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) to tumors is a major limitation to the efficacy of adoptive cellular therapy (ACT) for cancer. However, through fucosylation, a process whereby fucosyltransferases (FT) add fucose groups to cell surface glycoproteins, this challenge may be overcome. Endogenously fucosylated CTLs and ex vivo fucosylated cord blood stem cells and regulatory T cells were shown to preferentially home to inflamed tissues and marrow. Here, we show a novel approach to enhance CTL homing to leukemic marrow and tumor tissue. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:Using the enzyme FT-VII, we fucosylated CTLs that target the HLA-A2-restricted leukemia antigens CG1 and PR1, the HER2-derived breast cancer antigen E75, and the melanoma antigen gp-100. We performed in vitro homing assays to study the effects of fucosylation on CTL homing and target killing. We used in vivo mouse models to demonstrate the effects of ex vivo fucosylation on CTL antitumor activities against leukemia, breast cancer, and melanoma. RESULTS:Our data show that fucosylation increases in vitro homing and cytotoxicity of antigen-specific CTLs. Furthermore, fucosylation enhances in vivo CTL homing to leukemic bone marrow, breast cancer, and melanoma tissue in NOD/SCID gamma (NSG) and immunocompetent mice, ultimately boosting the antitumor activity of the antigen-specific CTLs. Importantly, our work demonstrates that fucosylation does not interfere with CTL specificity. CONCLUSIONS:Together, our data establish ex vivo CTL fucosylation as a novel approach to improving the efficacy of ACT, which may be of great value for the future of ACT for cancer.
Project description:Mutations in the gene encoding transcription factor TFAP2A result in pigmentation anomalies in model organisms and premature hair graying in humans. However, the pleiotropic functions of TFAP2A and its redundantly-acting paralogs have made the precise contribution of TFAP2-type activity to melanocyte differentiation unclear. Defining this contribution may help to explain why TFAP2A expression is reduced in advanced-stage melanoma compared to benign nevi. To identify genes with TFAP2A-dependent expression in melanocytes, we profile zebrafish tissue and mouse melanocytes deficient in Tfap2a, and find that expression of a small subset of genes underlying pigmentation phenotypes is TFAP2A-dependent, including Dct, Mc1r, Mlph, and Pmel. We then conduct TFAP2A ChIP-seq in mouse and human melanocytes and find that a much larger subset of pigmentation genes is associated with active regulatory elements bound by TFAP2A. These elements are also frequently bound by MITF, which is considered the "master regulator" of melanocyte development. For example, the promoter of TRPM1 is bound by both TFAP2A and MITF, and we show that the activity of a minimal TRPM1 promoter is lost upon deletion of the TFAP2A binding sites. However, the expression of Trpm1 is not TFAP2A-dependent, implying that additional TFAP2 paralogs function redundantly to drive melanocyte differentiation, which is consistent with previous results from zebrafish. Paralogs Tfap2a and Tfap2b are both expressed in mouse melanocytes, and we show that mouse embryos with Wnt1-Cre-mediated deletion of Tfap2a and Tfap2b in the neural crest almost completely lack melanocytes but retain neural crest-derived sensory ganglia. These results suggest that TFAP2 paralogs, like MITF, are also necessary for induction of the melanocyte lineage. Finally, we observe a genetic interaction between tfap2a and mitfa in zebrafish, but find that artificially elevating expression of tfap2a does not increase levels of melanin in mitfa hypomorphic or loss-of-function mutants. Collectively, these results show that TFAP2 paralogs, operating alongside lineage-specific transcription factors such as MITF, directly regulate effectors of terminal differentiation in melanocytes. In addition, they suggest that TFAP2A activity, like MITF activity, has the potential to modulate the phenotype of melanoma cells.
Project description:Hypoxia-inducible factor-1? (HIF-1?) is a highly oxygen sensitive bHLH protein that is part of the heterodimeric HIF-1 transcription factor. Under hypoxic stress, HIF-1 activity is induced to control expression of multiple downstream target genes, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The normal epidermis exists in a constant mild hypoxic microenvironment and constitutively expresses HIF-1? and HIF-2?. Expression of HIF-1? and/or HIF-2? has been suggested to correlate with the increased malignant potential of melanocytes, therefore, failures of melanoma therapies may be partially linked to high HIF activity. Notably, melanomas that have the V600E BRAF mutation exhibit increased HIF-1? expression. We have utilized a bioinformatics approach to identify putative hypoxia response elements (HREs) in a set of genes known to participate in the process of melanogenesis (includingTRPM1, SLC45A2, HRAS, C-KIT, PMEL and CRH). While some of the mechanistic links between these genes and the HIF pathway have been previously explored, others await further investigation. Although agents targeting HIF activity have been proposed as novel treatment modalities for melanoma, there are currently no clinical trials in progress to test their efficacy in melanoma.
Project description:Durable responses in metastatic melanoma patients remain generally difficult to achieve. Adoptive cell therapy (ACT) with ex vivo engineered lymphocytes expressing high affinity T-cell receptors (TCR?/?) for the melanoma antigen MART-1?????/HLA-A*0201 [recognized by F5 cytotoxic T lymphocytes (F5 CTL)] has been found to benefit certain patients. However, many other patients are inherently unresponsive and/or relapse for unknown reasons. To analyze the basis for the acquired resistance and strategies to reverse it, we established F5 CTL-resistant (R) human melanoma clones from relatively sensitive parental lines under selective F5 CTL pressure. Surface MART-1?????/HLA-A*0201 in these clones was unaltered and F5 CTLs recognized and interacted with them similar to the parental lines. Nevertheless, the R clones were resistant to F5 CTL killing, exhibited hyperactivation of the NF-?B survival pathway, and overexpression of the antiapoptotic genes B cell lymphoma protein 2 (Bcl-2), Bcl-2 related gene (long alternatively spliced variant of Bcl-x gene; Bcl-(xL)), and myeloid cell differentiation 1 (Mcl-1). Sensitivity to F5 CTL-killing could be increased by pharmacological inhibition of the NF-?B pathway, Bcl-2 family members, or the proteasome, the latter of which reduced NF-?B activity and diminished antiapoptotic gene expression. Specific gene-silencing (by siRNA) confirmed the protective role of antiapoptotic factors by reversing R clone resistance. Together, our findings suggest that long-term immunotherapy may impose a selection for the development of resistant cells that are unresponsive to highly avid and specific melanoma-reactive CTLs, despite maintaining expression of functional peptide:MHC complexes, due to activation of antiapoptotic signaling pathways. Though unresponsive to CTL, our results argue that resistant cells can be resensitized to immunotherapy with coadministration of targeted inhibitors to antiapoptotic survival pathways.
Project description:To characterize the gene expression profile of regenerated melanocytes in the narrow band UVB (NBUVB)-treated vitiligo epidermis and their precursors in the hair follicle, we present here a strategy of RNA isolation from in situ melanocytes using human frozen skin. We developed a rapid immunostaining protocol using the NKI-beteb antibody, which labels differentiated and precursor melanocytes, followed by fluorescent laser capture microdissection. This technique enabled the direct isolation, from melanocyte and adjacent keratinocyte populations, of satisfactory quality RNA that was successfully amplified and analysed by qRT-PCR. The melanocyte-specific gene transcripts TYR, DCT, TYRP1 and PMEL were significantly upregulated in our NBUVB-treated melanocyte samples as compared with the keratinocyte samples, while keratinocyte-specific genes (KRT5 and KRT14) were expressed significantly higher in the keratinocyte samples as compared with the melanocyte samples. Furthermore, in both NBUVB-treated vitiligo skin and normal skin, when bulge melanocytes were compared with epidermal melanocytes, we found significantly lower expression of melanocyte-specific genes and significantly higher expression of three melanocytic stem cell genes (SOX9, WIF1 and SFRP1), while ALCAM and ALDH1A1 transcripts did not show significant variation. We found significantly higher expression of melanocyte-specific genes in the epidermis of NBUVB-treated vitiligo, as compared to the normal skin. When comparing bulge melanocyte samples from untreated vitiligo, NBUVB-treated vitiligo and normal skin, we did not find significant differences in the expression of melanocyte-specific genes or melanocytic stem cell genes. These techniques offer valuable opportunities to study melanocytes and their precursors in vitiligo and other pigmentation disorders.
Project description:Dendritic cell (DC)-mediated presentation of MHC class I (MHC-I)/peptide complexes is a crucial first step in the priming of CTL responses, and the cytoplasmic tail of MHC-I plays an important role in modulating this process. Several species express a splice variant of the MHC-I tail that deletes exon 7-encoding amino acids (?7), including a conserved serine phosphorylation site. Previously, it has been shown that ?7 MHC-I molecules demonstrate extended DC surface half-lives, and that mice expressing ?7-K(b) generate significantly augmented CTL responses to viral challenge. Herein, we show that ?7-D(b)-expressing DCs stimulated significantly more proliferation and much higher cytokine secretion by melanoma antigen-specific (Pmel-1) T cells. Moreover, in combination with adoptive Pmel-1 T-cell transfer, ?7-D(b) DCs were superior to WT-D(b) DCs at stimulating anti-tumor responses against established B16 melanoma tumors, significantly extending mouse survival. Human DCs engineered to express ?7-HLA-A*0201 showed similarly enhanced CTL stimulatory capacity. Further studies demonstrated impaired lateral membrane movement and clustering of human ?7-MHC-I/peptide complexes, resulting in significantly increased bioavailability of MHC-I/peptide complexes for specific CD8+ T cells. Collectively, these data suggest that targeting exon 7-encoded MHC-I cytoplasmic determinants in DC vaccines has the potential to increase CD8+ T-cell stimulatory capacity and substantially improve their clinical efficacy.