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Identification of Breast Cancer Peptide Epitopes Presented by HLA-A*0201

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posted on 04.04.2008, 00:00 by Oriana E. Hawkins, Rodney S. VanGundy, Annette M. Eckerd, Wilfried Bardet, Rico Buchli, Jon A. Weidanz, William H. Hildebrand
Cellular immune mechanisms detect and destroy cancerous and infected cells via the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules that present peptides of intracellular origin on the surface of all nucleated cells. The identification of novel, tumor-specific epitopes is a critical step in the development of immunotherapeutics for breast cancer. To directly identify peptide epitopes unique to cancerous cells, secreted human class I HLA molecules (sHLA) were constructed by deletion of the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domain of HLA A*0201. The resulting sHLA-A*0201 was transferred and expressed in breast cancer cell lines MCF-7, MDA-MB-231, and BT-20 as well as in the immortal, nontumorigenic cell line MCF10A. Stable transfectants were seeded into bioreactors for production of >25 mg of sHLA-A*0201. Peptides eluted from affinity purified sHLA were analyzed by mass spectroscopy. Comparative analysis of HLA-A*0201 peptides revealed 5 previously uncharacterized epitopes uniquely presented on breast cancer cells. These peptides were derived from intracellular proteins with either well-defined or putative roles in breast cancer development and progression: Cyclin Dependent Kinase 2 (Cdk2), Ornithine Decarboxylase (ODC1), Kinetochore Associated 2 (KNTC2 or HEC1), Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF), and Exosome Component 6 (EXOSC6). Cellular recognition of the MIF, KNTC2, EXOSC6, and Cdk2 peptides by circulating CD8+ cells was demonstrated by tetramer staining and IFN-γ ELISPOT. The identification and characterization of peptides unique to the class I of breast cancer cells provide putative targets for the development of immune diagnostic tools and therapeutics.