register interest

Professor Benoit Van Den Eynde

Research Area: Cell and Molecular Biology
Scientific Themes: Cancer Biology
Keywords: Cancer, Immune responses, Tumour antigens, Immunotherapy, Cancer vaccines, Antigen processing, Proteasome and Cancer-induced immunosuppression

Research areas

  • What are the mechanisms of production of tumour antigens?

  • How do many tumours manage to resist immune rejection and what can we do about it?

Research overview

The Van Den Eynde group studies immune responses to cancer, with the long-term goal of harnessing the immune system to fight cancer.

Benoit Van Den Eynde was involved in the molecular identification of the very first tumour antigens recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes and his group has continued to contribute to the molecular definition of human tumour antigens. This work has helped to pave the way towards the development of immunotherapy as a new approach of cancer treatment. Immunotherapy, which has recently reached the clinical arena, is based on the modulation of the immune system to increase anti-cancer immune responses—either by vaccination or by reagents to modulate the activity of anti-tumor T lymphocytes.

Research in the Van Den Eynde group has two main themes. Firstly, the group focuses on the processing of tumour antigens and studies the role of the proteasome and other proteases in the production of tumour antigenic peptides. Secondly, they investigate innovative preclinical models for cancer immunotherapy to decipher the mechanisms whereby tumours resist immune rejection. The long-term objectives are to better understand the interaction of tumours with the immune system and to devise strategies to improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy.

There are no collaborations listed for this principal investigator.

Anquetil F, Mondanelli G, Gonzalez N, Rodriguez Calvo T, Zapardiel Gonzalo J, Krogvold L, Dahl-Jørgensen K, Van den Eynde B, Orabona C, Grohmann U, von Herrath MG. 2018. Loss of IDO1 Expression From Human Pancreatic β-Cells Precedes Their Destruction During the Development of Type 1 Diabetes. Diabetes, | Show Abstract | Read more

Indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase-1 (IDO1) is a powerful immunoregulatory enzyme that is deficient in patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D). In this study, we present the first systematic evaluation of IDO1 expression and localization in human pancreatic tissue. Although IDO1 was constitutively expressed in β-cells from donors without diabetes, less IDO1 was expressed in insulin-containing islets from double autoantibody-positive donors and patients with recent-onset T1D, although it was virtually absent in insulin-deficient islets from donors with T1D. Scatter plot analysis suggested that IDO1 decay occurred in individuals with multiple autoantibodies, prior to β-cell demise. IDO1 impairment might therefore contribute to β-cell demise and could potentially emerge as a promising therapeutic target.

Vigneron N, Stroobant V, Ferrari V, Abi Habib J, Van den Eynde BJ. 2018. Production of spliced peptides by the proteasome. Mol Immunol, | Show Abstract | Read more

CD8+ cytolytic T lymphocytes are essential players of anti-tumor immune responses. On tumors, they recognize peptides of about 8-to-10 amino acids that generally result from the degradation of cellular proteins by the proteasome. Until a decade ago, these peptides were thought to solely correspond to linear fragments of proteins that were liberated after the hydrolysis of the peptide bonds located at their extremities. However, several examples of peptides containing two fragments originally distant in the protein sequence challenged this concept and demonstrated that proteasome could also splice peptides together by creating a new peptide bond between two distant fragments. Unexpectedly, peptide splicing emerges as an essential way to increase the peptide repertoire diversity as these spliced peptides were shown to represent up to 25% of the peptides presented on a cell by MHC class I. Here, we review the different steps that led to the discovery of peptide splicing by the proteasome as well as the lightening offered by the recent progresses of mass spectrometry and bioinformatics in the analysis of the spliced peptide repertoire.

Orabona C, Mondanelli G, Pallotta MT, Carvalho A, Albini E, Fallarino F, Vacca C, Volpi C, Belladonna ML, Berioli MG et al. 2018. Deficiency of immunoregulatory indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1in juvenile diabetes. JCI Insight, 3 (6), | Show Abstract | Read more

A defect in indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1), which is responsible for immunoregulatory tryptophan catabolism, impairs development of immune tolerance to autoantigens in NOD mice, a model for human autoimmune type 1 diabetes (T1D). Whether IDO1 function is also defective in T1D is still unknown. We investigated IDO1 function in sera and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from children with T1D and matched controls. These children were further included in a discovery study to identify SNPs in IDO1 that might modify the risk of T1D. T1D in children was characterized by a remarkable defect in IDO1 function. A common haplotype, associated with dysfunctional IDO1, increased the risk of developing T1D in the discovery and also confirmation studies. In T1D patients sharing such a common IDO1 haplotype, incubation of PBMCs in vitro with tocilizumab (TCZ) - an IL-6 receptor blocker - would, however, rescue IDO1 activity. In an experimental setting with diabetic NOD mice, TCZ was found to restore normoglycemia via IDO1-dependent mechanisms. Thus, functional SNPs of IDO1 are associated with defective tryptophan catabolism in human T1D, and maneuvers aimed at restoring IDO1 function would be therapeutically effective in at least a subgroup of T1D pediatric patients.

Ait-Belkacem R, Bol V, Hamm G, Schramme F, Van Den Eynde B, Poncelet L, Pamelard F, Stauber J, Gomes B. 2017. Microenvironment Tumor Metabolic Interactions Highlighted by qMSI: Application to the Tryptophan-Kynurenine Pathway in Immuno-Oncology. SLAS Discov, 22 (10), pp. 1182-1192. | Show Abstract | Read more

Inhibition of NK and effector T-cell functions and activation of regulatory cell populations are the main immunosuppressive effects of indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase1 (IDO1). By converting tryptophan (Trp) into kynurenine (Kyn), IDO1 is involved in the immune response homeostasis, and its dysregulated expression is described in immune-related pathologies, as tumors that hijack it to evade immune destruction. Thereby, IDO1 inhibitors are being developed to stimulate antitumor immune responses. Existing and standard quantitation methods of IDO1 substrate and metabolite(s) are based on the total level of Trp and its metabolites determined by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry analysis in human plasma, cerebrospinal fluid, and brain. Here, we describe the detection, localization, and absolute quantitation of Trp and Kyn by quantitative mass spectrometry imaging (qMSI) in transfected murine tumor models expressing various levels of IDO1. Myeloid, glycolysis metabolic signatures, and correlation between IDO1 expression and Trp to Kyn conversion are also shown. High-definition IDO1 and GCN2 immunostainings overlaid with Kyn molecular images underline the tumor metabolism and heterogeneity. The development of immunotherapies such as IDO1 inhibitors requires a deep understanding of the immune system, the interplay of cancer cells, and biomarker characterization. Our data underline that qMSI allows the study of the spatial distribution and quantitation of endogenous immune metabolites for biology and pharmacology studies.

Crosignani S, Bingham P, Bottemanne P, Cannelle H, Cauwenberghs S, Cordonnier M, Dalvie D, Deroose F, Feng JL, Gomes B et al. 2017. Discovery of a Novel and Selective Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase (IDO-1) Inhibitor 3-(5-Fluoro-1H-indol-3-yl)pyrrolidine-2,5-dione (EOS200271/PF-06840003) and Its Characterization as a Potential Clinical Candidate. J Med Chem, 60 (23), pp. 9617-9629. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tumors use tryptophan-catabolizing enzymes such as indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO-1) to induce an immunosuppressive environment. IDO-1 is induced in response to inflammatory stimuli and promotes immune tolerance through effector T-cell anergy and enhanced Treg function. As such, IDO-1 is a nexus for the induction of a key immunosuppressive mechanism and represents an important immunotherapeutic target in oncology. Starting from HTS hit 5, IDO-1 inhibitor 6 (EOS200271/PF-06840003) has been developed. The structure-activity relationship around 6 is described and rationalized using the X-ray crystal structure of 6 bound to human IDO-1, which shows that 6, differently from most of the IDO-1 inhibitors described so far, does not bind to the heme iron atom and has a novel binding mode. Clinical candidate 6 shows good potency in an IDO-1 human whole blood assay and also shows a very favorable ADME profile leading to favorable predicted human pharmacokinetic properties, including a predicted half-life of 16-19 h.

Zhu J, Powis de Tenbossche CG, Cané S, Colau D, van Baren N, Lurquin C, Schmitt-Verhulst A-M, Liljeström P, Uyttenhove C, Van den Eynde BJ. 2017. Resistance to cancer immunotherapy mediated by apoptosis of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Nat Commun, 8 (1), pp. 1404. | Show Abstract | Read more

Despite impressive clinical success, cancer immunotherapy based on immune checkpoint blockade remains ineffective in many patients due to tumoral resistance. Here we use the autochthonous TiRP melanoma model, which recapitulates the tumoral resistance signature observed in human melanomas. TiRP tumors resist immunotherapy based on checkpoint blockade, cancer vaccines or adoptive T-cell therapy. TiRP tumors recruit and activate tumor-specific CD8+ T cells, but these cells then undergo apoptosis. This does not occur with isogenic transplanted tumors, which are rejected after adoptive T-cell therapy. Apoptosis of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes can be prevented by interrupting the Fas/Fas-ligand axis, and is triggered by polymorphonuclear-myeloid-derived suppressor cells, which express high levels of Fas-ligand and are enriched in TiRP tumors. Blocking Fas-ligand increases the anti-tumor efficacy of adoptive T-cell therapy in TiRP tumors, and increases the efficacy of checkpoint blockade in transplanted tumors. Therefore, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes apoptosis is a relevant mechanism of immunotherapy resistance, which could be blocked by interfering with the Fas/Fas-ligand pathway.

Vigneron N, Ferrari V, Stroobant V, Abi Habib J, Van den Eynde BJ. 2017. Peptide splicing by the proteasome. J Biol Chem, 292 (51), pp. 21170-21179. | Show Abstract | Read more

The proteasome is the major protease responsible for the production of antigenic peptides recognized by CD8+ cytolytic T cells (CTL). These peptides, generally 8-10 amino acids long, are presented at the cell surface by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. Originally, these peptides were believed to be solely derived from linear fragments of proteins, but this concept was challenged several years ago by the isolation of anti-tumor CTL that recognized spliced peptides, i.e. peptides composed of fragments distant in the parental protein. The splicing process was shown to occur in the proteasome through a transpeptidation reaction involving an acyl-enzyme intermediate. Here, we review the steps that led to the discovery of spliced peptides as well as the recent advances that uncover the unexpected importance of spliced peptides in the composition of the MHC class I repertoire.

Vigneron N, Abi Habib J, Van den Eynde BJ. 2017. Learning from the Proteasome How To Fine-Tune Cancer Immunotherapy. Trends Cancer, 3 (10), pp. 726-741. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cancer immunotherapy has recently emerged as a forefront strategy to fight cancer. Key players in antitumor responses are CD8+ cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs) that can detect tumor cells that carry antigens, in other words, small peptides bound to surface major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. The success and safety of cancer immunotherapy strategies depends on the nature of the antigens recognized by the targeted T cells, their strict tumor specificity, and whether tumors and antigen-presenting cells can efficiently process the peptide. We review here the nature of the tumor antigens and their potential for the development of immunotherapeutic strategies. We also discuss the importance of proteasome in the production of these peptides in the context of immunotherapy and therapeutic cancer vaccines.

Hanoteau A, Henin C, Svec D, Bisilliat Donnet C, Denanglaire S, Colau D, Romero P, Leo O, Van den Eynde B, Moser M. 2017. Cyclophosphamide treatment regulates the balance of functional/exhausted tumor-specific CD8+ T cells. Oncoimmunology, 6 (8), pp. e1318234. | Show Abstract | Read more

An important question is how chemotherapy may (re-)activate tumor-specific immunity. In this study, we provide a phenotypic, functional and genomic analysis of tumor-specific CD8+ T cells in tumor (P815)-bearing mice, treated or not with cyclophosphamide. Our data show that chemotherapy favors the development of effector-type lymphocytes in tumor bed, characterized by higher KLRG-1 expression, lower PD-1 expression and increased cytotoxicity. This suggests re-engagement of T lymphocytes into the effector program. IFN-I appears involved in this remodeling. Our findings provide some insight into how cyclophosphamide regulates the amplitude and quality of tumor-specific immune responses.

Foy J-P, Bertolus C, Michallet M-C, Deneuve S, Incitti R, Bendriss-Vermare N, Albaret M-A, Ortiz-Cuaran S, Thomas E, Colombe A et al. 2017. The immune microenvironment of HPV-negative oral squamous cell carcinoma from never-smokers and never-drinkers patients suggests higher clinical benefit of IDO1 and PD1/PD-L1 blockade. Ann Oncol, 28 (8), pp. 1934-1941. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Never-smokers and never-drinkers patients (NSND) suffering from oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) are epidemiologically different from smokers drinkers (SD). We therefore hypothesized that they harbored distinct targetable molecular alterations. Patients and methods: Data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) (discovery set), Gene Expression Omnibus and Centre Léon Bérard (CLB) (three validation sets) with available gene expression profiles of HPV-negative OSCC from NSND and SD were mined. Protein expression profiles and genomic alterations were also analyzed from TCGA, and a functional pathway enrichment analysis was carried out. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples from 44 OSCC including 20 NSND and 24 SD treated at CLB were retrospectively collected to perform targeted-sequencing of 2559 transcripts (HTG EdgeSeq system), and CD3, CD4, CD8, IDO1, and PD-L1 expression analyses by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Enrichment of a six-gene interferon-γ signature of clinical response to pembrozulimab (PD-1 inhibitor) was evaluated in each sample from all cohorts, using the single sample gene set enrichment analysis method. Results: A total of 854 genes and 29 proteins were found to be differentially expressed between NSND and SD in TCGA. Functional pathway analysis highlighted an overall enrichment for immune-related pathways in OSCC from NSND, especially involving T-cell activation. Interferon-γ response and PD1 signaling were strongly enriched in NSND. IDO1 and PD-L1 were overexpressed and the score of response to pembrolizumab was higher in NSND than in SD, although the mutational load was lower in NSND. IHC analyses in the CLB cohort evidenced IDO1 and PD-L1 overexpression in tumor cells that was associated with a higher rate of tumor-infiltrating T-cells in NSND compared with SD. Conclusion: The main biological and actionable difference between OSCC from NSND and SD lies in the immune microenvironment, suggesting a higher clinical benefit of PD-L1 and IDO1 inhibition in OSCC from NSND.

Hennequart M, Pilotte L, Cane S, Hoffmann D, Stroobant V, Plaen ED, Van den Eynde B. Constitutive IDO1 Expression in Human Tumors Is Driven by Cyclooxygenase-2 and Mediates Intrinsic Immune Resistance. Cancer Immunol Res, 5 (8), pp. 695-709. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tumors use various mechanisms to avoid immune destruction. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression may be a driver of immune suppression in melanoma, but the mechanisms involved remain elusive. Here, we show that COX-2 expression drives constitutive expression of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) in human tumor cells. IDO1 is an immunosuppressive enzyme that degrades tryptophan. In a series of seven human tumor lines, constitutive IDO1 expression depends on COX-2 and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which, upon autocrine signaling through the EP receptor, activates IDO1 via the PKC and PI3K pathways. COX-2 expression itself depends on the MAPK pathway, which therefore indirectly controls IDO1 expression. Most of these tumors carry PI3K or MAPK oncogenic mutations, which may favor constitutive IDO1 expression. Celecoxib treatment promoted immune rejection of IDO1-expressing human tumor xenografts in immunodeficient mice reconstituted with human allogeneic lymphocytes. This effect was associated with a reduced expression of IDO1 in those ovarian SKOV3 tumors and an increased infiltration of CD3+ and CD8+ cells. Our results highlight the role of COX-2 in constitutive IDO1 expression by human tumors and substantiate the use of COX-2 inhibitors to improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy, by reducing constitutive IDO1 expression, which contributes to the lack of T-cell infiltration in "cold" tumors, which fail to respond to immunotherapy. Cancer Immunol Res; 5(8); 695-709. ©2017 AACR.

Hennequart M, Pilotte L, Cane S, Hoffmann D, Stroobant V, De Plaen E, Van den Eynde BJ. 2017. Constitutive IDO1 Expression in Human Tumors Is Driven by Cyclooxygenase-2 and Mediates Intrinsic Immune Resistance. Cancer Immunol Res, 5 (8), pp. 695-709. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tumors use various mechanisms to avoid immune destruction. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression may be a driver of immune suppression in melanoma, but the mechanisms involved remain elusive. Here, we show that COX-2 expression drives constitutive expression of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) in human tumor cells. IDO1 is an immunosuppressive enzyme that degrades tryptophan. In a series of seven human tumor lines, constitutive IDO1 expression depends on COX-2 and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which, upon autocrine signaling through the EP receptor, activates IDO1 via the PKC and PI3K pathways. COX-2 expression itself depends on the MAPK pathway, which therefore indirectly controls IDO1 expression. Most of these tumors carry PI3K or MAPK oncogenic mutations, which may favor constitutive IDO1 expression. Celecoxib treatment promoted immune rejection of IDO1-expressing human tumor xenografts in immunodeficient mice reconstituted with human allogeneic lymphocytes. This effect was associated with a reduced expression of IDO1 in those ovarian SKOV3 tumors and an increased infiltration of CD3+ and CD8+ cells. Our results highlight the role of COX-2 in constitutive IDO1 expression by human tumors and substantiate the use of COX-2 inhibitors to improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy, by reducing constitutive IDO1 expression, which contributes to the lack of T-cell infiltration in "cold" tumors, which fail to respond to immunotherapy. Cancer Immunol Res; 5(8); 1-15. ©2017 AACR.

Garg AD, Coulie PG, Van den Eynde BJ, Agostinis P. 2017. Integrating Next-Generation Dendritic Cell Vaccines into the Current Cancer Immunotherapy Landscape. Trends Immunol, 38 (8), pp. 577-593. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cancer immunotherapy is experiencing a renaissance spearheaded by immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). This has spurred interest in 'upgrading' existing immunotherapies that previously experienced only sporadic success, such as dendritic cells (DCs) vaccines. In this review, we discuss the major molecular, immunological, and clinical determinants of existing first- and second-generation DC vaccines. We also outline the future trends for next-generation DC vaccines and describe their major hallmarks and prerequisites necessary for high anticancer efficacy. In addition, using existing data we compare DC vaccines with ICIs targeting CTLA4, PD1, and PD-L1, and argue that in various contexts next-generation DC vaccines are ready to meet some challenges currently confronting ICIs, thereby raising the need to integrate DC vaccines in future combinatorial immunotherapy regimens.

Uzureau S, Coquerelle C, Vermeiren C, Uzureau P, Van Acker A, Pilotte L, Monteyne D, Acolty V, Vanhollebeke B, Van den Eynde B et al. 2016. Apolipoproteins L control cell death triggered by TLR3/TRIF signaling in dendritic cells. Eur J Immunol, 46 (8), pp. 1854-1866. | Show Abstract | Read more

Apolipoproteins L (ApoLs) are Bcl-2-like proteins expressed under inflammatory conditions in myeloid and endothelial cells. We found that Toll-like receptor (TLR) stimuli, particularly the viral mimetic polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly(I:C)), specifically induce ApoLs7/11 subfamilies in murine CD8α(+)  dendritic cells (DCs). This induction requires the TLR3/TRIF (where TRIF is TIR domain containing adapter-inducing interferon β) signaling pathway and is dependent on IFN-β in all ApoLs subfamilies except for ApoL7c. Poly(I:C) treatment of DCs is also associated with induction of both cell death and autophagy. ApoLs expression is related to promotion of DC death by poly(I:C), as ApoLs7/11 knockdown increases DC survival and ApoLs7 are associated with the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xL (where Bcl-xL is B-cell lymphoma extra large). Similarly, in human monocyte-derived DCs poly(I:C) induces both cell death and the expression of ApoLs, principally ApoL3. Finally, the BH3-like peptide of ApoLs appears to be involved in the DC death-promoting activity. We would like to propose that ApoLs are involved in cell death linked to activation of DCs by viral stimuli.

Henrottin J, Lemaire C, Egrise D, Zervosen A, Van den Eynde B, Plenevaux A, Franci X, Goldman S, Luxen A. 2016. Fully automated radiosynthesis of N(1)-[(18)F]fluoroethyl-tryptophan and study of its biological activity as a new potential substrate for indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase PET imaging. Nucl Med Biol, 43 (6), pp. 379-389. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) catalyzes the initial step in the catabolism of l-tryptophan along the kynurenine pathway and exerts immunosuppressive properties in inflammatory and tumor tissues by blocking locally T-lymphocyte proliferation. Recently, 1-(2-[(19)F]fluoroethyl)-dl-tryptophan (1-[(19)F]FE-dl-Trp) was reported as a good and specific substrate of this enzyme. Herein, the radiosynthesis of its radioactive isotopomer (1-[(18)F]FE-dl-Trp, dl-[(18)F]5) is presented along with in vitro enzymatic and cellular uptake studies. METHODS: The one-pot n.c.a. radiosynthesis of this novel potential PET imaging tracer, including HPLC purification and formulation, has been fully automated on a FASTlab™ synthesizer. Chiral separation of both isomers and their formulation were implemented on a second cassette. In vitro enzymatic and cellular uptake studies were then conducted with the d-, l- and dl-radiotracers. RESULTS: The radiolabeling of the tosylate precursor was performed in DMF (in 5min; RCY: 57% (d.c.), n=3). After hydrolysis, HPLC purification and formulation, dl-[(18)F]5 was obtained with a global radiochemical yield of 18±3% (not decay corrected, n=7, in 80min) and a specific activity of 600±180GBq/μmol (n=5). The subsequent separation of l- and d-enantiomers was performed by chiral HPLC and both were obtained after formulation with an RCY (d.c.) of 6.1% and 5.8%, respectively. In vitro enzymatic assays reveal that l-[(18)F]5 is a better substrate than d-[(18)F]5 for human IDO. In vitro cellular assays show an IDO-specific uptake of the racemate varying from 30% to 50% of that of l-[(18)F]5, and a negligible uptake of d-[(18)F]5. CONCLUSION: In vitro studies show that l-[(18)F]5 is a good and specific substrate of hIDO, while presenting a very low efflux. These results confirm that l-[(18)F]5 could be a very useful PET radiotracer for IDO expressing cells in cancer imaging.

Ebstein F, Textoris-Taube K, Keller C, Golnik R, Vigneron N, Van den Eynde BJ, Schuler-Thurner B, Schadendorf D, Lorenz FKM, Uckert W et al. 2016. Proteasomes generate spliced epitopes by two different mechanisms and as efficiently as non-spliced epitopes. Sci Rep, 6 (1), pp. 24032. | Show Abstract | Read more

Proteasome-catalyzed peptide splicing represents an additional catalytic activity of proteasomes contributing to the pool of MHC-class I-presented epitopes. We here biochemically and functionally characterized a new melanoma gp100 derived spliced epitope. We demonstrate that the gp100(mel)47-52/40-42 antigenic peptide is generated in vitro and in cellulo by a not yet described proteasomal condensation reaction. gp100(mel)47-52/40-42 generation is enhanced in the presence of the β5i/LMP7 proteasome-subunit and elicits a peptide-specific CD8(+) T cell response. Importantly, we demonstrate that different gp100(mel)-derived spliced epitopes are generated and presented to CD8(+) T cells with efficacies comparable to non-spliced canonical tumor epitopes and that gp100(mel)-derived spliced epitopes trigger activation of CD8(+) T cells found in peripheral blood of half of the melanoma patients tested. Our data suggest that both transpeptidation and condensation reactions contribute to the frequent generation of spliced epitopes also in vivo and that their immune relevance may be comparable to non-spliced epitopes.

Romero P, Banchereau J, Bhardwaj N, Cockett M, Disis ML, Dranoff G, Gilboa E, Hammond SA, Hershberg R, Korman AJ et al. 2016. The Human Vaccines Project: A roadmap for cancer vaccine development. Sci Transl Med, 8 (334), pp. 334ps9. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cancer vaccine development has been vigorously pursued for 40 years. Immunity to tumor antigens can be elicited by most vaccines tested, but their clinical efficacy remains modest. We argue that a concerted international effort is necessary to understand the human antitumor immune response and achieve clinically effective cancer vaccines.

Ma W, Zhang Y, Vigneron N, Stroobant V, Thielemans K, van der Bruggen P, Van den Eynde BJ. 2016. Long-Peptide Cross-Presentation by Human Dendritic Cells Occurs in Vacuoles by Peptide Exchange on Nascent MHC Class I Molecules. J Immunol, 196 (4), pp. 1711-1720. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cross-presentation enables dendritic cells to present on their MHC class I molecules antigenic peptides derived from exogenous material, through a mechanism that remains partly unclear. It is particularly efficient with long peptides, which are used in cancer vaccines. We studied the mechanism of long-peptide cross-presentation using human dendritic cells and specific CTL clones against melanoma Ags gp100 and Melan-A/MART1. We found that cross-presentation of those long peptides does not depend on the proteasome or the transporter associated with Ag processing, and therefore follows a vacuolar pathway. We also observed that it makes use of newly synthesized MHC class I molecules, through peptide exchange in vesicles distinct from the endoplasmic reticulum and classical secretory pathway, in an SEC22b- and CD74-independent manner. Our results indicate a nonclassical secretion pathway followed by nascent HLA-I molecules that are used for cross-presentation of those long melanoma peptides in the vacuolar pathway. Our results may have implications for the development of vaccines based on long peptides.

Vigneron N, Abi Habib J, Van den Eynde BJ. 2015. The capture proteasome assay (CAPA) to evaluate subtype-specific proteasome inhibitors. Data Brief, 4 pp. 146-151. | Show Abstract | Read more

We recently developed a new assay to measure proteasome activity in vitro (CAPA for capture proteasome assay) [1], based on proteasome capture on an antibody-coated plate. When used with lysates originating from cells expressing either standard proteasome, immunoproteasome or intermediate proteasomes β5i or β1i-β5i, this assay allows the individual monitoring of the chymotrypsin-like, trypsin-like and caspase-like activities of the corresponding proteasome subtypes. The efficiency and specificity of four proteasome inhibitors were studied using the CAPA assay, demonstrating the potential of this assay for the development of subtype-specific proteasome inhibitors.

van Baren N, Van den Eynde BJ. 2015. Tumoral Immune Resistance Mediated by Enzymes That Degrade Tryptophan. Cancer Immunol Res, 3 (9), pp. 978-985. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cancer patients mount T-lymphocyte responses against antigens expressed selectively by their malignancy, but these responses often fail to control their disease, because tumors select mechanisms that allow them to resist immune destruction. Among the numerous resistance mechanisms that have been proposed, metabolic inhibition of T cells by tryptophan catabolism deserves particular attention, because of the frequent expression of tryptophan-degrading enzymes in human tumors, and because in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that their enzymatic activity can be readily blocked by pharmacologic inhibitors, thereby restoring T-cell-mediated tumor cell killing and paving the way to targeted therapeutic intervention. In view of recent observations, and taking into account the differences between human and mouse data that differ in several aspects, in this Cancer Immunology at the Crossroads article, we discuss the role of the three enzymes that have been proposed to control tryptophan catabolism in tumoral immune resistance: indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1), tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO), and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 2 (IDO2).

Put K, Avau A, Brisse E, Mitera T, Put S, Proost P, Bader-Meunier B, Westhovens R, Van den Eynde BJ, Orabona C et al. 2015. Cytokines in systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis and haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis: tipping the balance between interleukin-18 and interferon-γ. Rheumatology (Oxford), 54 (8), pp. 1507-1517. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: To study the role of IFN-γ in the pathogenesis of systemic JIA (sJIA) and haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) by searching for an IFN-γ profile, and to assess its relationship with other cytokines. METHODS: Patients with inactive (n = 10) and active sJIA (n = 10), HLH [n = 5; of which 3 had sJIA-associated macrophage activation syndrome (MAS)] and healthy controls (n = 16) were enrolled in the study. Cytokines and IFN-γ-induced genes and proteins were determined in plasma, in patient peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and in lymph node biopsies of one patient during both sJIA and MAS episodes. IFN-γ responses were investigated in healthy donor PBMCs, primary fibroblasts and endothelial cells. RESULTS: Plasma IFN-γ, IL-6 and IL-18 were elevated in active sJIA and HLH. Levels of IFN-γ and IFN-γ-induced proteins (IP-10/CXCL-10, IL-18BP and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase) in HLH were much higher than levels in active sJIA. Free IL-18 and ratios of IL-18/IFN-γ were higher in active sJIA compared with HLH. HLH PBMCs showed hyporesponsiveness to IFN-γ in vitro when compared with control and sJIA PBMCs. Endothelial cells and fibroblasts expressed IFN-γ-induced proteins in situ in lymph node staining of a MAS patient and in vitro upon stimulation with IFN-γ. CONCLUSION: Patients with active sJIA and HLH/MAS show distinct cytokine profiles, with highly elevated plasma levels of IFN-γ and IFN-γ-induced proteins typically found in HLH/MAS. In addition to PBMCs, histiocytes, endothelial cells and fibroblasts may contribute to an IFN-γ profile in plasma. Increasing levels of IFN-γ compared with IL-18 may raise suspicion about the development of MAS in sJIA.

Vavrincova-Yaghi D, Seelen MA, Kema IP, Deelman LE, van der Heuvel MC, Breukelman H, Van den Eynde BJ, Henning RH, van Goor H, Sandovici M. 2015. Early Posttransplant Tryptophan Metabolism Predicts Long-term Outcome of Human Kidney Transplantation. Transplantation, 99 (8), pp. e97-104. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Chronic transplant dysfunction (CTD) is the leading cause of long-term loss of the renal allograft. So far, no single test is available to reliably predict the risk for CTD. Monitoring of tryptophan (trp) metabolism through indoleamine 2.3-dioxygenase (IDO) has been previously proposed to predict acute rejection of human kidney transplants. Here, we investigate the potential of IDO/trp degradation along the kynurenine (kyn) pathway to predict the long-term outcome of human kidney transplantation. METHODS: During the 2-year follow-up blood, urine, and kidney biopsies were collected from 48 renal transplant patients. Concentrations of kyn and trp in serum and urine were measured at 2 weeks, 6 months, and 2 years after transplantation. Kynurenine to tryptophan ratio was calculated as an estimate of trp degradation. To evaluate the histological changes and IDO expression, respectively, periodic acid schiff staining and immunohistochemistry for IDO were performed on biopsies taken at 6 months and 2 years. RESULTS: Two years after transplantation, kyn/trp was increased in urine and decreased in serum as compared to 2-week values. In 2-year biopsies, IDO expression was mainly found in infiltrating inflammatory cells and in the glomeruli. The urine level of trp 2 weeks after transplantation predicted the serum creatinine 6 months and the estimated creatinine clearance 2 years after transplantation. Additionally, serum level of kyn 6 months after transplantation predicted the serum creatinine 2 years after transplantation. CONCLUSIONS: Early serum and urine levels of trp and kyn may offer a novel route for early detection of patients at risk for developing CTD.

Vigneron N, Abi Habib J, Van den Eynde BJ. 2015. The capture proteasome assay: A method to measure proteasome activity in vitro. Anal Biochem, 482 pp. 7-15. | Show Abstract | Read more

Because of its crucial role in various cellular processes, the proteasome is the focus of intensive research for the development of proteasome inhibitors to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases. Here, we describe a new and easy assay to measure the different proteasome activities in vitro (chymotrypsin-like, caspase-like, and trypsin-like) based on proteasome capture on antibody-coated plates, namely the capture proteasome assay (CAPA). Applying the CAPA to lysates from cells expressing standard proteasome, immunoproteasome, or intermediate proteasomes β5i or β1i-β5i, we can monitor the activity of the four proteasome subtypes. The CAPA provided similar results as the standard whole-cell proteasome-Glo assay without the problem of contaminating proteases requiring inhibitors. However, the profile of trypsin-like activity differed between the two assays. This could be partly explained by the presence of MgSO4 in the proteasome-Glo buffer, which inhibits the trypsin-like activity of the proteasome. The CAPA does not need MgSO4 and, therefore, provides a more precise measurement of the trypsin-like activity. The CAPA provides a quick and accurate method to measure proteasome activity in vitro in a very specific manner and should be useful for the development of proteasome inhibitors.

Vigneron N, van Baren N, Van den Eynde BJ. 2015. Expression profile of the human IDO1 protein, a cancer drug target involved in tumoral immune resistance. Oncoimmunology, 4 (5), pp. e1003012. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tryptophan catabolism by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO1) is a physiological immunoregulatory mechanism often hijacked by tumors. Our recent extensive study of IDO1 protein expression in human tissues showed expression in mature dendritic cells and in pulmonary and placental endothelial cells. IDO1 was also expressed in 56% of tumors, either by tumoral, stromal, or endothelial cells. These results and reagent will guide the clinical development of IDO1 inhibitors for cancer therapy.

Apetoh L, Smyth MJ, Drake CG, Abastado J-P, Apte RN, Ayyoub M, Blay J-Y, Bonneville M, Butterfield LH, Caignard A et al. 2015. Consensus nomenclature for CD8+ T cell phenotypes in cancer. Oncoimmunology, 4 (4), pp. e998538. | Show Abstract | Read more

Whereas preclinical investigations and clinical studies have established that CD8+ T cells can profoundly affect cancer progression, the underlying mechanisms are still elusive. Challenging the prevalent view that the beneficial effect of CD8+ T cells in cancer is solely attributable to their cytotoxic activity, several reports have indicated that the ability of CD8+ T cells to promote tumor regression is dependent on their cytokine secretion profile and their ability to self-renew. Evidence has also shown that the tumor microenvironment can disarm CD8+ T cell immunity, leading to the emergence of dysfunctional CD8+ T cells. The existence of different types of CD8+ T cells in cancer calls for a more precise definition of the CD8+ T cell immune phenotypes in cancer and the abandonment of the generic terms "pro-tumor" and "antitumor." Based on recent studies investigating the functions of CD8+ T cells in cancer, we here propose some guidelines to precisely define the functional states of CD8+ T cells in cancer.

Henrottin J, Zervosen A, Lemaire C, Sapunaric F, Laurent S, Van den Eynde B, Goldman S, Plenevaux A, Luxen A. 2015. N (1)-Fluoroalkyltryptophan Analogues: Synthesis and in vitro Study as Potential Substrates for Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase. ACS Med Chem Lett, 6 (3), pp. 260-265. | Show Abstract | Read more

Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (hIDO) is an enzyme that catalyzes the oxidative cleavage of the indole ring of l-tryptophan through the kynurenine pathway, thereby exerting immunosuppressive properties in inflammatory and tumoral tissues. The syntheses of 1-(2-fluoroethyl)-tryptophan (1-FETrp) and 1-((1-(2-fluoroethyl)-1H-1,2,3-triazol-4-yl)methyl)-tryptophan, two N (1)-fluoroalkylated tryptophan derivatives, are described here. In vitro enzymatic assays with these two new potential substrates of hIDO show that 1-FETrp is a good and specific substrate of hIDO. Therefore, its radioactive isotopomer, 1-[(18)F]FETrp, should be a molecule of choice to visualize tumoral and inflammatory tissues and/or to validate new potential inhibitors.

Théate I, van Baren N, Pilotte L, Moulin P, Larrieu P, Renauld J-C, Hervé C, Gutierrez-Roelens I, Marbaix E, Sempoux C, Van den Eynde BJ. 2015. Extensive profiling of the expression of the indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 protein in normal and tumoral human tissues. Cancer Immunol Res, 3 (2), pp. 161-172. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tryptophan catabolism by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) plays a key role in tumoral resistance to immune rejection. In humans, constitutive expression of IDO1 has been observed in several tumor types. However, a comprehensive analysis of its expression in normal and tumor tissues is still required to anticipate the risks and potential benefits of IDO1 inhibitors. Using a newly validated monoclonal antibody to human IDO1, we performed an extensive immunohistochemical analysis of IDO1 expression in normal and tumor tissues. In normal tissues, IDO1 was expressed by endothelial cells in the placenta and lung and by epithelial cells in the female genital tract. In lymphoid tissues, IDO1 was expressed in mature dendritic cells with a phenotype (CD83(+), DC-LAMP(+), langerin(-), CD123(-), CD163(-)) distinct from plasmacytoid dendritic cells. Importantly, IDO1-expressing dendritic cells were not enriched in tumor-draining lymph nodes, in contrast with previously reported findings. IDO1-expressing cells were observed in a large fraction (505/866, 58%) of human tumors. They comprised tumor cells, endothelial cells, and stromal cells in proportions that varied depending on the tumor type. Tumors showing the highest proportions of IDO1-immunolabeled samples were carcinomas of the endometrium and cervix, followed by kidney, lung, and colon. This hierarchy of IDO1 expression was confirmed by gene expression data mined from The Cancer Genome Atlas database. Expression of IDO1 may be used to select tumors likely to benefit from targeted therapy with IDO1 inhibitors.

Fabre B, Lambour T, Garrigues L, Amalric F, Vigneron N, Menneteau T, Stella A, Monsarrat B, Van den Eynde B, Burlet-Schiltz O, Bousquet-Dubouch M-P. 2015. Deciphering preferential interactions within supramolecular protein complexes: the proteasome case. Mol Syst Biol, 11 (1), pp. 771. | Show Abstract | Read more

In eukaryotic cells, intracellular protein breakdown is mainly performed by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Proteasomes are supramolecular protein complexes formed by the association of multiple sub-complexes and interacting proteins. Therefore, they exhibit a very high heterogeneity whose function is still not well understood. Here, using a newly developed method based on the combination of affinity purification and protein correlation profiling associated with high-resolution mass spectrometry, we comprehensively characterized proteasome heterogeneity and identified previously unknown preferential associations within proteasome sub-complexes. In particular, we showed for the first time that the two main proteasome subtypes, standard proteasome and immunoproteasome, interact with a different subset of important regulators. This trend was observed in very diverse human cell types and was confirmed by changing the relative proportions of both 20S proteasome forms using interferon-γ. The new method developed here constitutes an innovative and powerful strategy that could be broadly applied for unraveling the dynamic and heterogeneous nature of other biologically relevant supramolecular protein complexes.

Arts N, Cané S, Hennequart M, Lamy J, Bommer G, Van den Eynde B, De Plaen E. 2015. microRNA-155, induced by interleukin-1ß, represses the expression of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF-M) in melanoma cells. PLoS One, 10 (4), pp. e0122517. | Show Abstract | Read more

Loss of expression of surface antigens represents a significant problem for cancer immunotherapy. Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF-M) regulates melanocyte fate by driving expression of many differentiation genes, whose protein products can be recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes. We previously reported that interleukin-1ß (IL-1ß) can downregulate MITF-M levels. Here we show that downregulation of MITF-M expression by IL-1ß was paralleled by an upregulation of miR-155 expression in four melanoma lines. We confirmed that miR-155 was able to target endogenous MITF-M in melanoma cells and demonstrated a role for miR-155 in the IL-1ß-induced repression of MITF-M by using an antagomiR. Notably, we also observed a strong negative correlation between MITF-M and miR-155 levels in a mouse model of melanoma. Taken together, our results indicate that MITF-M downregulation by inflammatory stimuli might be partly due to miR-155 upregulation. This could represent a novel mechanism of melanoma immune escape in an inflammatory microenvironment.

Lauwerys BR, Hernández-Lobato D, Gramme P, Ducreux J, Dessy A, Focant I, Ambroise J, Bearzatto B, Nzeusseu Toukap A, Van den Eynde BJ et al. 2015. Heterogeneity of synovial molecular patterns in patients with arthritis. PLoS One, 10 (4), pp. e0122104. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an unmet medical need in the field of rheumatology. Previously, we performed high-density transcriptomic studies on synovial biopsies from patients with arthritis, and found that synovial gene expression profiles were significantly different according to the underlying disorder. Here, we wanted to further explore the consistency of the gene expression signals in synovial biopsies of patients with arthritis, using low-density platforms. METHODS: Low-density assays (cDNA microarray and microfluidics qPCR) were designed, based on the results of the high-density microarray data. Knee synovial biopsies were obtained from patients with RA, spondyloarthropathies (SA) or osteoarthritis (OA) (n = 39), and also from patients with initial undifferentiated arthritis (UA) (n = 49). RESULTS: According to high-density microarray data, several molecular pathways are differentially expressed in patients with RA, SA and OA: T and B cell activation, chromatin remodelling, RAS GTPase activation and extracellular matrix regulation. Strikingly, disease activity (DAS28-CRP) has a significant influence on gene expression patterns in RA samples. Using the low-density assays, samples from patients with OA are easily discriminated from RA and SA samples. However, overlapping molecular patterns are found, in particular between RA and SA biopsies. Therefore, prediction of the clinical diagnosis based on gene expression data results in a diagnostic accuracy of 56.8%, which is increased up to 98.6% by the addition of specific clinical symptoms in the prediction algorithm. Similar observations are made in initial UA samples, in which overlapping molecular patterns also impact the accuracy of the diagnostic algorithm. When clinical symptoms are added, the diagnostic accuracy is strongly improved. CONCLUSIONS: Gene expression signatures are overall different in patients with OA, RA and SA, but overlapping molecular signatures are found in patients with these conditions. Therefore, an accurate diagnosis in patients with UA requires a combination of gene expression and clinical data.

Garg AD, Galluzzi L, Apetoh L, Baert T, Birge RB, Bravo-San Pedro JM, Breckpot K, Brough D, Chaurio R, Cirone M et al. 2015. Molecular and Translational Classifications of DAMPs in Immunogenic Cell Death. Front Immunol, 6 (NOV), pp. 588. | Show Abstract | Read more

The immunogenicity of malignant cells has recently been acknowledged as a critical determinant of efficacy in cancer therapy. Thus, besides developing direct immunostimulatory regimens, including dendritic cell-based vaccines, checkpoint-blocking therapies, and adoptive T-cell transfer, researchers have started to focus on the overall immunobiology of neoplastic cells. It is now clear that cancer cells can succumb to some anticancer therapies by undergoing a peculiar form of cell death that is characterized by an increased immunogenic potential, owing to the emission of the so-called "damage-associated molecular patterns" (DAMPs). The emission of DAMPs and other immunostimulatory factors by cells succumbing to immunogenic cell death (ICD) favors the establishment of a productive interface with the immune system. This results in the elicitation of tumor-targeting immune responses associated with the elimination of residual, treatment-resistant cancer cells, as well as with the establishment of immunological memory. Although ICD has been characterized with increased precision since its discovery, several questions remain to be addressed. Here, we summarize and tabulate the main molecular, immunological, preclinical, and clinical aspects of ICD, in an attempt to capture the essence of this phenomenon, and identify future challenges for this rapidly expanding field of investigation.

van Baren N, Van den Eynde BJ. 2015. Tryptophan-degrading enzymes in tumoral immune resistance. Front Immunol, 6 (FEB), pp. 34. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tryptophan is required for T lymphocyte effector functions. Its degradation is one of the mechanisms selected by tumors to resist immune destruction. Two enzymes, tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1, control tryptophan degradation through the kynurenine pathway. A third protein, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 2, was identified more recently. All three enzymes were reported to be expressed in tumors, and are candidate targets for pharmacological inhibition aimed at restoring effective anti-tumoral immunity. In this review, we compare these three enzymes in terms of structure, activity, regulation, and expression in healthy and cancerous tissues, in order to appreciate their relevance to tumoral immune resistance.

Galluzzi L, Vacchelli E, Bravo-San Pedro J-M, Buqué A, Senovilla L, Baracco EE, Bloy N, Castoldi F, Abastado J-P, Agostinis P et al. 2014. Classification of current anticancer immunotherapies. Oncotarget, 5 (24), pp. 12472-12508. | Show Abstract | Read more

During the past decades, anticancer immunotherapy has evolved from a promising therapeutic option to a robust clinical reality. Many immunotherapeutic regimens are now approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency for use in cancer patients, and many others are being investigated as standalone therapeutic interventions or combined with conventional treatments in clinical studies. Immunotherapies may be subdivided into "passive" and "active" based on their ability to engage the host immune system against cancer. Since the anticancer activity of most passive immunotherapeutics (including tumor-targeting monoclonal antibodies) also relies on the host immune system, this classification does not properly reflect the complexity of the drug-host-tumor interaction. Alternatively, anticancer immunotherapeutics can be classified according to their antigen specificity. While some immunotherapies specifically target one (or a few) defined tumor-associated antigen(s), others operate in a relatively non-specific manner and boost natural or therapy-elicited anticancer immune responses of unknown and often broad specificity. Here, we propose a critical, integrated classification of anticancer immunotherapies and discuss the clinical relevance of these approaches.

Vandermeulen G, Uyttenhove C, De Plaen E, Van den Eynde BJ, Préat V. 2014. Intramuscular electroporation of a P1A-encoding plasmid vaccine delays P815 mastocytoma growth. Bioelectrochemistry, 100 pp. 112-118. | Show Abstract | Read more

This study aimed to construct DNA vaccines encoding the mouse P1A tumor antigen and to generate a protective immune response against the P815 mastocytoma, as a model for vaccines against human MAGE-type tumor antigens. DNA vaccines were constructed and delivered to mice by intramuscular electroporation before tumor challenge. Immunization with a plasmid coding for the full-length P1A significantly delayed tumor growth and mice survived at least 10 days longer than untreated controls. 10% of the mice completely rejected the P815 tumors while 50% of them showed a regression phase followed by tumor regrowth. Mice immunized by electroporation of a P1A(35-43) minigene-encoding plasmid failed to reject tumor and even delay tumor growth. The P1A(35-43)-encoding plasmid was modified and helper epitope sequences were inserted. However, these modified plasmids were not able to improve the response against P815 mastocytoma. Consistent with these results, a 12-fold higher CTL activity was observed when the plasmid coding for full-length P1A was delivered as compared to the plasmid encoding the P1A(35-43) epitope. Our results demonstrated that electroporation is an efficient method to deliver DNA vaccines against P815 and suggested the superiority of full-length as compared to minigene constructs for DNA vaccines.

Röhrig UF, Majjigapu SR, Chambon M, Bron S, Pilotte L, Colau D, Van den Eynde BJ, Turcatti G, Vogel P, Zoete V, Michielin O. 2014. Detailed analysis and follow-up studies of a high-throughput screening for indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) inhibitors. Eur J Med Chem, 84 pp. 284-301. | Show Abstract | Read more

Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) is a key regulator of immune responses and therefore an important therapeutic target for the treatment of diseases that involve pathological immune escape, such as cancer. Here, we describe a robust and sensitive high-throughput screen (HTS) for IDO1 inhibitors using the Prestwick Chemical Library of 1200 FDA-approved drugs and the Maybridge HitFinder Collection of 14,000 small molecules. Of the 60 hits selected for follow-up studies, 14 displayed IC50 values below 20 μM under the secondary assay conditions, and 4 showed an activity in cellular tests. In view of the high attrition rate we used both experimental and computational techniques to identify and to characterize compounds inhibiting IDO1 through unspecific inhibition mechanisms such as chemical reactivity, redox cycling, or aggregation. One specific IDO1 inhibitor scaffold, the imidazole antifungal agents, was chosen for rational structure-based lead optimization, which led to more soluble and smaller compounds with micromolar activity.

Rahir G, Wathelet N, Hanoteau A, Henin C, Oldenhove G, Galuppo A, Lanaya H, Colau D, Mackay CR, Van den Eynde B, Moser M. 2014. Cyclophosphamide treatment induces rejection of established P815 mastocytoma by enhancing CD4 priming and intratumoral infiltration of P1E/H-2K(d) -specific CD8+ T cells. Int J Cancer, 134 (12), pp. 2841-2852. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is increasing evidence that the effect of chemotherapy on tumor growth is not cell autonomous but relies on the immune system. The objective of this study was therefore to decipher the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the role of innate and adaptive immunity in chemotherapy-induced tumor rejection. Treatment of DBA/2 mice bearing P815 mastocytoma with cyclophosphamide induced rejection and long-term protection in a CD4- and CD8-dependent manner. A population of inflammatory-type dendritic cells was dramatically expanded in the lymph nodes of mice that rejected the tumor and correlated with CD4-dependent infiltration, in tumor bed, of tumor-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes. Our data point to a major role of CD4+ T cells in inducing chemokine expression in the tumor, provoking migration of tumor-specific CXCR3+ CD8+ T lymphocytes. Importantly, the analysis of CD8+ T cells specific to P1A/H-2L(d) and P1E/H-2K(d) revealed that cyclophosphamide altered the P815-specific CD8 T repertoire by amplifying the response specific to the mutated P1E antigen.

Ma W, Van den Eynde BJ. 2014. Endosomal compartment: Also a dock for MHC class I peptide loading. Eur J Immunol, 44 (3), pp. 650-653. | Show Abstract | Read more

The endosomal compartment, which contains all the components required for loading peptides onto MHC class II molecules, is classically considered to be dedicated to the loading of MHC class II but not MHC class I molecules. However, a report in this issue of the European Journal of Immunology [Eur. J. Immunol. 2014. 44: 774-784], together with other recent studies, shows that the endosomal compartment also supports efficient loading of MHC class I molecules. These results bring a new perspective on the crosstalk between the MHC class II and MHC class I antigen-processing pathways, and may inspire new ideas for the design of vaccines against viruses and tumors.

Michaux A, Larrieu P, Stroobant V, Fonteneau J-F, Jotereau F, Van den Eynde BJ, Moreau-Aubry A, Vigneron N. 2014. A spliced antigenic peptide comprising a single spliced amino acid is produced in the proteasome by reverse splicing of a longer peptide fragment followed by trimming. J Immunol, 192 (4), pp. 1962-1971. | Show Abstract | Read more

Peptide splicing is a novel mechanism of production of peptides relying on the proteasome and involving the linkage of fragments originally distant in the parental protein. Peptides produced by splicing can be presented on class I molecules of the MHC and recognized by CTLs. In this study, we describe a new antigenic peptide, which is presented by HLA-A3 and comprises two noncontiguous fragments of the melanoma differentiation Ag gp100(PMEL17) spliced together in the reverse order to that in which they appear in the parental protein. Contrary to the previously described spliced peptides, which are produced by the association of fragments of 3-6 aa, the peptide described in this work results from the ultimate association of an 8-aa fragment with a single arginine residue. As described before, peptide splicing takes place in the proteasome by transpeptidation involving an acyl-enzyme intermediate linking one of the peptide fragment to a catalytic subunit of the proteasome. Interestingly, we observe that the peptide causing the nucleophilic attack on the acyl-enzyme intermediate must be at least 3 aa long to give rise to a spliced peptide. The spliced peptide produced from this reaction therefore bears an extended C terminus that needs to be further trimmed to produce the final antigenic peptide. We show that the proteasome is able to perform the final trimming step required to produce the antigenic peptide described in this work.

Coulie PG, Van den Eynde BJ, van der Bruggen P, Boon T. 2014. Tumour antigens recognized by T lymphocytes: at the core of cancer immunotherapy. Nat Rev Cancer, 14 (2), pp. 135-146. | Show Abstract | Read more

In this Timeline, we describe the characteristics of tumour antigens that are recognized by spontaneous T cell responses in cancer patients and the paths that led to their identification. We explain on what genetic basis most, but not all, of these antigens are tumour specific: that is, present on tumour cells but not on normal cells. We also discuss how strategies that target these tumour-specific antigens can lead either to tumour-specific or to crossreactive T cell responses, which is an issue that has important safety implications in immunotherapy. These safety issues are even more of a concern for strategies targeting antigens that are not known to induce spontaneous T cell responses in patients.

Ducreux J, Durez P, Galant C, Nzeusseu Toukap A, Van den Eynde B, Houssiau FA, Lauwerys BR. 2014. Global molecular effects of tocilizumab therapy in rheumatoid arthritis synovium. Arthritis Rheumatol, 66 (1), pp. 15-23. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the global molecular effects of tocilizumab (TCZ) in comparison with methotrexate (MTX) treatment in synovial biopsy tissue obtained from patients with previously untreated rheumatoid arthritis (RA) before therapy (T0) and 12 weeks after the initiation of therapy (T12), and to compare the results with previous gene expression data obtained in synovial biopsy tissue from adalimumab (ADA)- and rituximab (RTX)-treated patients with RA. METHODS: Paired synovial biopsy samples were obtained at T0 and T12 from the affected knee of TCZ-treated RA patients and MTX-treated RA patients. Gene expression studies were performed using GeneChip Human Genome U133 Plus 2.0 microarrays, and confirmatory quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction experiments were performed on selected transcripts. The effects of TCZ and MTX on synovial cell populations and histologic characteristics were assessed by immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: Gene expression studies showed that blockade of the interleukin-6 receptor (IL-6R) gene (IL6R) using TCZ induced a significant decrease in the expression of numerous chemokine and T cell activation genes in the RA synovium. These effects strongly correlated with the molecular effects of MTX and RTX therapy on RA synovial tissue, but differed from the molecular changes induced by ADA (decreased expression of genes involved in cell proliferation). CONCLUSION: The molecular similarities between the effects of TCZ, RTX, and MTX therapies in the RA synovium indicate that B cell- and IL-6-dependent pathways play synergistic roles in the pathogenesis of the disease, in particular through activation of T cell responses. Moreover, these results open perspectives for the individualization of therapeutic decisions, based on a better knowledge of the synovial molecular effects of each type of RA therapy.

Vigneron N, Van den Eynde BJ. 2014. Proteasome subtypes and regulators in the processing of antigenic peptides presented by class I molecules of the major histocompatibility complex. Biomolecules, 4 (4), pp. 994-1025. | Show Abstract | Read more

The proteasome is responsible for the breakdown of cellular proteins. Proteins targeted for degradation are allowed inside the proteasome particle, where they are cleaved into small peptides and released in the cytosol to be degraded into amino acids. In vertebrates, some of these peptides escape degradation in the cytosol, are loaded onto class I molecules of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and displayed at the cell surface for scrutiny by the immune system. The proteasome therefore plays a key role for the immune system: it provides a continued sampling of intracellular proteins, so that CD8-positive T-lymphocytes can kill cells expressing viral or tumoral proteins. Consequently, the repertoire of peptides displayed by MHC class I molecules at the cell surface depends on proteasome activity, which may vary according to the presence of proteasome subtypes and regulators. Besides standard proteasomes, cells may contain immunoproteasomes, intermediate proteasomes and thymoproteasomes. Cells may also contain regulators of proteasome activity, such as the 19S, PA28 and PA200 regulators. Here, we review the effects of these proteasome subtypes and regulators on the production of antigenic peptides. We also discuss an unexpected function of the proteasome discovered through the study of antigenic peptides: its ability to splice peptides.

Badot V, Luijten RKMAC, van Roon JA, Depresseux G, Aydin S, Van den Eynde BJ, Houssiau FA, Lauwerys BR. 2013. Serum soluble interleukin 7 receptor is strongly associated with lupus nephritis in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Ann Rheum Dis, 72 (3), pp. 453-456. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The soluble form of the interleukin 7 receptor (sIL-7R) is produced by fibroblasts after stimulation with proinflammatory cytokines. Increased sIL-7R serum and synovial fluid levels were recently demonstrated in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether sIL-7R production is dysregulated in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and whether this correlates with disease activity. METHODS: Serum and urine sIL-7R concentrations were measured by ELISA, and sIL-7R quantitative PCR (qPCR) studies were performed in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). IL-7R, tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα), IL-1β and IL-17 immunostainings were performed on kidney sections. RESULTS: sIL-7R concentrations were significantly higher in SLE sera than in controls, and correlated with SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) scores. Accordingly, serum sIL-7R levels were strongly raised in patients with nephritis. Moreover in patients with lupus nephritis, serum sIL-7R decreased upon treatment. sIL-7R gene expression in PBMCs was similar in patients with lupus nephritis and controls. By contrast, abundant perivascular IL-7R expression was seen in SLE kidney biopsy specimens, which was associated with expression of TNFα in the surrounding tissue. CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate that sIL-7R is a marker of SLE disease activity, especially nephritis. In contrast to conventional disease activity markers, sIL-7R is not produced by immune cells, but might instead reflect activation of tissue cells in the target organ.

Dolušić E, Larrieu P, Meinguet C, Colette D, Rives A, Blanc S, Ferain T, Pilotte L, Stroobant V, Wouters J et al. 2013. Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase inhibitory activity of derivatives of marine alkaloid tsitsikammamine A. Bioorg Med Chem Lett, 23 (1), pp. 47-54. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tsitsikammamines are marine alkaloids whose structure is based on the pyrroloiminoquinone scaffold. These and related compounds have attracted attention due to various interesting biological properties, including cytotoxicity, topoisomerase inhibition, antimicrobial, antifungal and antimalarial activity. Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO1) is a well-established therapeutic target as an important factor in the tumor immune evasion mechanism. In this preliminary communication, we report the inhibitory activity of tsitsikammamine derivatives against IDO1. Tsitsikammamine A analogue 11b displays submicromolar potency in an enzymatic assay. A number of derivatives are also active in a cellular assay while showing little or no activity towards tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO), a functionally related enzyme. This IDO1 inhibitory activity is rationalized by molecular modeling studies. An interest is thus established in this class of compounds as a potential source of lead compounds for the development of new pharmaceutically useful IDO1 inhibitors.

Vigneron N, Ma W, Michaux A, Van den Eynde BJ. 2013. Identifying source proteins for MHC class I-presented peptides. Methods Mol Biol, 960 pp. 187-207. | Show Abstract | Read more

Identification of antigenic peptides recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) is a prerequisite for the development of targeted cancer immunotherapy approaches. This chapter provides a global approach for the identification of peptides recognized by CTL. It implies the identification of the HLA molecule presenting the peptide as well as the design and screening of a cDNA library derived from the tumor cells.

Vigneron N, Stroobant V, Van den Eynde BJ, van der Bruggen P. 2013. Database of T cell-defined human tumor antigens: the 2013 update. Cancer Immun, 13 (3), pp. 15. | Show Abstract

The plethora of tumor antigens that have been--and are still being--defined required systematization to provide a comprehensive overview of those tumor antigens that are the most relevant targets for cancer immunotherapy approaches. Here, we provide a new update of a peptide database resource that we initiated many years ago. This database compiles all human antigenic peptides described in the literature that fulfill a set of strict criteria needed to ascertain their actual "tumor antigen" nature, as we aim at guiding scientists and clinicians searching for appropriate cancer vaccine candidates (www.cancerimmunity.org/peptide). In this review, we revisit those criteria in light of recent findings related to antigen processing. We also introduce the 29 new tumor antigens that were selected for this 2013 update. Two of the new peptides show unusual features, which will be briefly discussed. The database now comprises a total of 403 tumor antigenic peptides.

Zhu S, Van den Eynde BJ, Coulie PG, Li YF, El-Gamil M, Rosenberg SA, Robbins PF. 2012. Characterization of T-cell receptors directed against HLA-A*01-restricted and C*07-restricted epitopes of MAGE-A3 and MAGE-A12. J Immunother, 35 (9), pp. 680-688. | Show Abstract | Read more

The ability of T cells that have been genetically engineered to express T-cell receptors (TCRs) directed against tumor antigens to mediate tumor regression has been demonstrated in several clinical trials. These TCRs have primarily targeted HLA-A*0201-restricted TCRs, as approximately 50% of whites, who represent the predominant population of patients who develop melanomas, expresses this HLA class I allele. These therapies could be extended to additional patients through the use of TCRs that target epitopes that are presented by additional class I alleles that are prevalent in this population such as HLA-C*07 and HLA-A*01, which are expressed by approximately 50% and 30% of the patient population respectively. Therefore, 2 TCRs that recognize an epitope of MAGE-A12 in the context of HLA-C*07 and 2 TCRs that recognize an epitope of MAGE-A3 in the context of HLA-A*01 were isolated from tumor-reactive T-cell clones and cloned in a recombinant retroviral expression vector. Comparative studies indicated that one of the 2 MAGE-A3-reactive TCRs and one of the 2 MAGE-A12-reactive TCRs were superior to the additional TCRs in conferring transduced peripheral blood mononuclear cells with the capacity to recognize a broad array of antigen and MHC-positive target cells. These results provide support for the use of these TCRs in cancer adoptive immunotherapy trials.

Platten M, Wick W, Van den Eynde BJ. 2012. Tryptophan catabolism in cancer: beyond IDO and tryptophan depletion. Cancer Res, 72 (21), pp. 5435-5440. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tryptophan catabolism in cancer is increasingly being recognized as an important microenvironmental factor that suppresses antitumor immune responses. It has been proposed that the essential amino acid tryptophan is catabolized in the tumor tissue by the rate-limiting enzyme indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) expressed in tumor cells or antigen-presenting cells. This metabolic pathway creates an immunosuppressive milieu in tumors and in tumor-draining lymph nodes by inducing T-cell anergy and apoptosis through depletion of tryptophan and accumulation of immunosuppressive tryptophan catabolites. Competitive inhibitors of IDO are currently being tested in clinical trials in patients with solid cancer, with the aim of enhancing the efficacy of conventional chemotherapy. There are, however, certain tumor types that are capable of catabolizing tryptophan but are largely IDO-negative. Recent evidence from studies in malignant gliomas and other types of cancers points to alternative enzymatic pathways of tryptophan catabolism involving tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase (TDO). TDO, which is considered responsible for regulating systemic tryptophan levels in the liver, is constitutively expressed in some cancers and is equally capable of suppressing antitumor immune responses. Depletion of tryptophan induces signaling events in T cells, leading to anergy and apoptosis; however, active immunomodulation by accumulating tryptophan catabolites, most notably kynurenine, appears to play an equally important role. These immunomodulatory effects of kynurenine are mediated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. This intracellular transcription factor has classically been viewed as a receptor for environmental toxins, such as dioxin, and its important role in influencing immune responses, especially in epithelial barriers, is only beginning to emerge. This review summarizes the exciting developments in our understanding of tryptophan catabolism as a key factor in the immunobiology of cancer.

Guillaume B, Stroobant V, Bousquet-Dubouch M-P, Colau D, Chapiro J, Parmentier N, Dalet A, Van den Eynde BJ. 2012. Analysis of the processing of seven human tumor antigens by intermediate proteasomes. J Immunol, 189 (7), pp. 3538-3547. | Show Abstract | Read more

We recently described two proteasome subtypes that are intermediate between the standard proteasome and the immunoproteasome. They contain only one (β5i) or two (β1i and β5i) of the three inducible catalytic subunits of the immunoproteasome. They are present in tumor cells and abundant in normal human tissues. We described two tumor antigenic peptides that are uniquely produced by these intermediate proteasomes. In this work, we studied the production by intermediate proteasomes of tumor antigenic peptides known to be produced exclusively by the immunoproteasome (MAGE-A3(114-122), MAGE-C2(42-50), MAGE-C2(336-344)) or the standard proteasome (Melan-A(26-35), tyrosinase(369-377), gp100(209-217)). We observed that intermediate proteasomes efficiently produced the former peptides, but not the latter. Two peptides from the first group were equally produced by both intermediate proteasomes, whereas MAGE-C2(336-344) was only produced by intermediate proteasome β1i-β5i. Those results explain the recognition of tumor cells devoid of immunoproteasome by CTL recognizing peptides not produced by the standard proteasome. We also describe a third antigenic peptide that is produced exclusively by an intermediate proteasome: peptide MAGE-C2(191-200) is produced only by intermediate proteasome β1i-β5i. Analyzing in vitro digests, we observed that the lack of production by a given proteasome usually results from destruction of the antigenic peptide by internal cleavage. Interestingly, we observed that the immunoproteasome and the intermediate proteasomes fail to cleave between hydrophobic residues, despite a higher chymotrypsin-like activity measured on fluorogenic substrates. Altogether, our results indicate that the repertoire of peptides produced by intermediate proteasomes largely matches the repertoire produced by the immunoproteasome, but also contains additional peptides.

Röhrig UF, Majjigapu SR, Grosdidier A, Bron S, Stroobant V, Pilotte L, Colau D, Vogel P, Van den Eynde BJ, Zoete V, Michielin O. 2012. Rational design of 4-aryl-1,2,3-triazoles for indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 inhibition. J Med Chem, 55 (11), pp. 5270-5290. | Show Abstract | Read more

Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) is an important therapeutic target for the treatment of diseases such as cancer that involve pathological immune escape. Starting from the scaffold of our previously discovered IDO1 inhibitor 4-phenyl-1,2,3-triazole, we used computational structure-based methods to design more potent ligands. This approach yielded highly efficient low molecular weight inhibitors, the most active being of nanomolar potency both in an enzymatic and in a cellular assay, while showing no cellular toxicity and a high selectivity for IDO1 over tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO). A quantitative structure-activity relationship based on the electrostatic ligand-protein interactions in the docked binding modes and on the quantum chemically derived charges of the triazole ring demonstrated a good explanatory power for the observed activities.

Stroobant V, Demotte N, Luiten RM, Leonhardt RM, Cresswell P, Bonehill A, Michaux A, Ma W, Mulder A, Van den Eynde BJ et al. 2012. Inefficient exogenous loading of a tapasin-dependent peptide onto HLA-B*44:02 can be improved by acid treatment or fixation of target cells. Eur J Immunol, 42 (6), pp. 1417-1428. | Show Abstract | Read more

Antitumor cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs) recognize peptides derived from cellular proteins and presented on MHC class I. One category of peptides recognized by these CTLs is derived from proteins encoded by "cancer-germline" genes, which are specifically expressed in tumors, and therefore represent optimal targets for cancer immunotherapy. Here, we identify an antigenic peptide, which is derived from the MAGE-A1-encoded protein (160-169) and presented to CTLs by HLA-B*44:02. Although this peptide is encoded by MAGE-A1, processed endogenously and presented by tumor cells, the corresponding synthetic peptide is hardly able to sensitize target cells to CTL recognition when pulsed exogenously. Endogenous processing and presentation of this peptide is strictly dependent on the presence of tapasin, which is believed to help peptide loading by stabilizing a peptide-receptive form of HLA-B*44:02. Exogenous loading of the peptide can be dramatically improved by paraformaldehyde fixation of surface molecules or by peptide loading at acidic pH. Either strategy allows efficient exogenous loading of the peptide, presumably by generating or stabilizing a peptide-receptive, empty conformation of the HLA. Altogether, our results indicate a potential drawback of short peptide-based vaccination strategies and offer possible solutions regarding the use of problematic epitopes such as the one described here.

Pilotte L, Larrieu P, Stroobant V, Colau D, Dolusic E, Frédérick R, De Plaen E, Uyttenhove C, Wouters J, Masereel B, Van den Eynde BJ. 2012. Reversal of tumoral immune resistance by inhibition of tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 109 (7), pp. 2497-2502. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tryptophan catabolism mediated by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO1) is an important mechanism of peripheral immune tolerance contributing to tumoral immune resistance, and IDO1 inhibition is an active area of drug development. Tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO) is an unrelated hepatic enzyme that also degrades tryptophan along the kynurenine pathway. Here, we show that enzymatically active TDO is expressed in a significant proportion of human tumors. In a preclinical model, TDO expression by tumors prevented their rejection by immunized mice. We developed a TDO inhibitor, which, upon systemic treatment, restored the ability of mice to reject TDO-expressing tumors. Our results describe a mechanism of tumoral immune resistance based on TDO expression and establish proof-of-concept for the use of TDO inhibitors in cancer therapy.

Vigneron N, Van den Eynde BJ. 2012. Proteasome subtypes and the processing of tumor antigens: increasing antigenic diversity. Curr Opin Immunol, 24 (1), pp. 84-91. | Show Abstract | Read more

Protein degradation by the proteasome releases peptides that can be loaded on MHC class I molecules and presented to cytolytic T lymphocytes. Several mechanisms were recently found to increase the diversity of antigenic peptides displayed at the cell surface, thereby maximizing the efficacy of immune responses. The proteasome was shown to produce spliced antigenic peptides, which are made of two fragments initially not contiguous in the parental protein. Different proteasome subtypes also produce distinct sets of antigenic peptides: the standard proteasome and the immunoproteasome, containing different catalytic subunits, have different cleavage specificities and produce different sets of peptides. Moreover, recent work confirmed the existence of two additional proteasome subtypes that are intermediate between the standard and the immunoproteasome, and each produce a unique peptide repertoire.

Wehbe M, Soudja SM, Mas A, Chasson L, Guinamard R, de Tenbossche CP, Verdeil G, Van den Eynde B, Schmitt-Verhulst A-M. 2012. Epithelial-mesenchymal-transition-like and TGFβ pathways associated with autochthonous inflammatory melanoma development in mice. PLoS One, 7 (11), pp. e49419. | Show Abstract | Read more

We compared gene expression signatures of aggressive amelanotic (Amela) melanomas with those of slowly growing pigmented melanomas (Mela), identifying pathways potentially responsible for the aggressive Amela phenotype. Both tumors develop in mice upon conditional deletion in melanocytes of Ink4a/Arf tumor suppressor genes with concomitant expression of oncogene H-Ras(G12V) and a known tumor antigen. We previously showed that only the aggressive Amela tumors were highly infiltrated by leukocytes concomitant with local and systemic inflammation. We report that Amela tumors present a pattern of de-differentiation with reduced expression of genes involved in pigmentation. This correlates with reduced and enhanced expression, respectively, of microphthalmia-associated (Mitf) and Pou3f2/Brn-2 transcription factors. The reduced expression of Mitf-controlled melanocyte differentiation antigens also observed in some human cutaneous melanoma has important implications for immunotherapy protocols that generally target such antigens. Induced Amela tumors also express Epithelial-Mesenchymal-Transition (EMT)-like and TGFβ-pathway signatures. These are correlated with constitutive Smad3 signaling in Amela tumors and melanoma cell lines. Signatures of infiltrating leukocytes and some chemokines such as chemotactic cytokine ligand 2 (Ccl2) that contribute to leukocyte recruitment further characterize Amela tumors. Inhibition of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation pathway in Amela tumor lines leads to reduced expression of EMT hallmark genes and inhibits both proinflammatory cytokine Ccl2 gene expression and Ccl2 production by the melanoma cells. These results indicate a link between EMT-like processes and alterations of immune functions, both being controlled by the MAPK pathway. They further suggest that targeting the MAPK pathway within tumor cells will impact tumor-intrinsic oncogenic properties as well as the nature of the tumor microenvironment.

Jacquemier J, Bertucci F, Finetti P, Esterni B, Charafe-Jauffret E, Thibult M-L, Houvenaeghel G, Van den Eynde B, Birnbaum D, Olive D, Xerri L. 2012. High expression of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase in the tumour is associated with medullary features and favourable outcome in basal-like breast carcinoma. Int J Cancer, 130 (1), pp. 96-104. | Show Abstract | Read more

Medullary breast cancer (MBC) is a basal-like breast carcinoma (BLBC) with a favourable outcome, whereas nonmedullary BLBC has a poor prognosis. Tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) are present in both MBC and BLBC. We hypothesized that the immunosuppressive enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) could modulate the TILs effects among these tumours and explain their different outcomes. The amount of TILs and IDO expression were analysed using immunohistochemistry (IHC) in 155 BC cases including MBC (n = 17), atypical MBC (n = 13) and non-MBC (n = 125). Messenger RNA expression of the INDO gene, which encodes IDO, was measured in 262 cases from our institution. INDO mRNA expression and histoclinical data of 1,487 BC cases were collected from public databases. IDO immunostaining was present in both neoplastic and stromal cells in 100% of MBC and was associated with histological medullary features among non-MBC cases. There was a significant correlation between IDO positivity and TIL amounts. In our series including mostly grade-3 BC, IDO immunostaining was the most significant marker (p = 0.02) associated with better survival in multivariate analysis. Among our 262 analysed BC cases, INDO mRNA showed significant overexpression in BLBC as compared to luminal A tumours, and in MBC as compared to basal-like non-MBC. In the pooled series of 1,749 BC cases, INDO mRNA was overexpressed in BLBC and was the most significant predictor of better survival in this subtype using multivariate analysis (p = 0.0024). In conclusion, high IDO expression is associated with morphological medullary features and has an independent favourable prognostic value in BLBC.

Huijbers IJ, Soudja SM, Uyttenhove C, Buferne M, Inderberg-Suso E-M, Colau D, Pilotte L, Powis de Tenbossche CG, Chomez P, Brasseur F et al. 2012. Minimal tolerance to a tumor antigen encoded by a cancer-germline gene. J Immunol, 188 (1), pp. 111-121. | Show Abstract | Read more

Central tolerance toward tissue-restricted Ags is considered to rely on ectopic expression in the thymus, which was also observed for tumor Ags encoded by cancer-germline genes. It is unknown whether endogenous expression shapes the T cell repertoire against the latter Ags and explains their weak immunogenicity. We addressed this question using mouse cancer-germline gene P1A, which encodes antigenic peptide P1A(35-43) presented by H-2L(d). We made P1A-knockout (P1A-KO) mice and asked whether their anti-P1A(35-43) immune responses were stronger than those of wild-type mice and whether P1A-KO mice responded to other P1A epitopes, against which wild-type mice were tolerized. We observed that both types of mice mounted similar P1A(35-43)-specific CD8 T cell responses, although the frequency of P1A(35-43)-specific CD8 T cells generated in response to P1A-expressing tumors was slightly higher in P1A-KO mice. This higher reactivity allowed naive P1A-KO mice to reject spontaneously P1A-expressing tumors, which progressed in wild-type mice. TCR-Vβ usage of P1A(35-43)-specific CD8 cells was slightly modified in P1A-KO mice. Peptide P1A(35-43) remained the only P1A epitope recognized by CD8 T cells in both types of mice, which also displayed similar thymic selection of a transgenic TCR recognizing P1A(35-43). These results indicate the existence of a minimal tolerance to an Ag encoded by a cancer-germline gene and suggest that its endogenous expression only slightly affects diversification of the T cell repertoire against this Ag.

Ma W, Vigneron N, Chapiro J, Stroobant V, Germeau C, Boon T, Coulie PG, Van den Eynde BJ. 2011. A MAGE-C2 antigenic peptide processed by the immunoproteasome is recognized by cytolytic T cells isolated from a melanoma patient after successful immunotherapy. Int J Cancer, 129 (10), pp. 2427-2434. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have pursued our analysis of a melanoma patient who showed almost complete tumor regression following vaccination with MAGE-A1 and MAGE-A3 antigens. We previously described high frequencies of tumor-specific CTL precursors in blood samples collected after but also before vaccination. A set of CTL clones were derived that recognized antigens different from those of the vaccine. Two of these antigens were peptides encoded by another MAGE gene, MAGE-C2. Here we describe the antigen recognized by another tumor-specific CTL clone. It proved to be a third antigenic peptide encoded by gene MAGE-C2, ASSTLYLVF. It is presented by HLA-B57 molecules and proteasome-dependent. Tumor cells exposed to interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) were better recognized by the anti-MAGE-C2(42-50) CTL clone. This mainly resulted from a better processing of the peptide by the immunoproteasome as compared to the standard proteasome. Mass spectrometric analyses showed that the latter destroyed the antigenic peptide by cleaving between two internal hydrophobic residues. Despite its higher "chymotryptic-like" (posthydrophobic) activity, the immunoproteasome did not cleave at this position, in line with the suggestion that hydrophobic residues immediately downstream from a cleavage site impair cleavage by the immunoproteasome. We previously reported that one of the other MAGE-C2 peptides recognized by CTL from this patient was also better processed by the immunoproteasome. Together, these results support the notion that the tumor regression of this patient was mediated by an antitumor response shaped by IFN-γ and dominated by CTL directed against peptides that are better produced by the immunoproteasome, such as the MAGE-C2 peptides.

Badot V, Durez P, Van den Eynde BJ, Nzeusseu-Toukap A, Houssiau FA, Lauwerys BR. 2011. Rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts produce a soluble form of the interleukin-7 receptor in response to pro-inflammatory cytokines. J Cell Mol Med, 15 (11), pp. 2335-2342. | Show Abstract | Read more

We previously demonstrated that baseline synovial overexpression of the interleukin-7 receptor α-chain (IL-7R) is associated with poor response to tumour necrosis factor (TNF) blockade in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We found that IL-7R gene expression is induced in fibroblast-like synovial cells (FLS) by the addition of TNF-α, IL-1β and combinations of TNF-α+ IL-1β or TNF-α+ IL-17, thereby suggesting that these cytokines play a role in the resistance to TNF blockade in RA. Because FLS and CD4 T cells also produce a soluble form of IL-7R (sIL-7R), resulting from an alternative splicing of the full-length transcript, we wondered whether expression of sIL-7R is similarly regulated by pro-inflammatory cytokines. We also investigated whether sIL-7R is detectable in the serum of RA patients and associated with response to TNF blockade. RA FLS were cultured in the presence of pro-inflammatory cytokines and sIL-7R concentrations were measured in culture supernatants. Similarly, sIL-7R titres were measured in sera obtained from healthy individuals, early untreated RA patients with active disease and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD)-resistant RA patients prior to initiation of TNF-blockade. Baseline serum sIL-7R titres were correlated with validated clinical measurements of disease activity. We found that exposure of RA FLS to pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β and combinations of TNF-α and IL-1β or TNF-α and IL-17) induces sIL-7R secretion. Activated CD4 T cells also produce sIL-7R. sIL-7R serum levels are higher in RA patients as compared to controls. In DMARD-resistant patients, high sIL-7R serum concentrations are strongly associated with poor response to TNF-blockade. In conclusion, sIL-7R is induced by pro-inflammatory cytokines in RA FLS. sIL-7R could qualify as a new biomarker of response to therapy in RA.

Dolusić E, Larrieu P, Moineaux L, Stroobant V, Pilotte L, Colau D, Pochet L, Van den Eynde B, Masereel B, Wouters J, Frédérick R. 2011. Tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO) inhibitors. 3-(2-(pyridyl)ethenyl)indoles as potential anticancer immunomodulators. J Med Chem, 54 (15), pp. 5320-5334. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tryptophan catabolism mediated by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is an important mechanism of peripheral immune tolerance contributing to tumoral immune resistance. IDO inhibition is thus an active area of research in drug development. Recently, our group has shown that tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO), an unrelated hepatic enzyme also catalyzing the first step of tryptophan degradation, is also expressed in many tumors and that this expression prevents tumor rejection by locally depleting tryptophan. Herein, we report a structure-activity study on a series of 3-(2-(pyridyl)ethenyl)indoles. More than 70 novel derivatives were synthesized, and their TDO inhibitory potency was evaluated. The rationalization of the structure-activity relationships (SARs) revealed essential features to attain high TDO inhibition and notably a dense H-bond network mainly involving His(55) and Thr(254) residues. Our study led to the identification of a very promising compound (58) displaying good TDO inhibition (K(i) = 5.5 μM), high selectivity, and good oral bioavailability. Indeed, 58 was chosen for preclinical evaluation.

Dalet A, Robbins PF, Stroobant V, Vigneron N, Li YF, El-Gamil M, Hanada K-I, Yang JC, Rosenberg SA, Van den Eynde BJ. 2011. An antigenic peptide produced by reverse splicing and double asparagine deamidation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 108 (29), pp. E323-E331. | Show Abstract | Read more

A variety of unconventional translational and posttranslational mechanisms contribute to the production of antigenic peptides, thereby increasing the diversity of the peptide repertoire presented by MHC class I molecules. Here, we describe a class I-restricted peptide that combines several posttranslational modifications. It is derived from tyrosinase and recognized by tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes isolated from a melanoma patient. This unusual antigenic peptide is made of two noncontiguous tyrosinase fragments that are spliced together in the reverse order. In addition, it contains two aspartate residues that replace the asparagines encoded in the tyrosinase sequence. We confirmed that this peptide is naturally presented at the surface of melanoma cells, and we showed that its processing sequentially requires translation of tyrosinase into the endoplasmic reticulum and its retrotranslocation into the cytosol, where deglycosylation of the two asparagines by peptide-N-glycanase turns them into aspartates by deamidation. This process is followed by cleavage and splicing of the appropriate fragments by the standard proteasome and additional transport of the resulting peptide into the endoplasmic reticulum through the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP).

Dolušić E, Larrieu P, Blanc S, Sapunaric F, Pouyez J, Moineaux L, Colette D, Stroobant V, Pilotte L, Colau D et al. 2011. Discovery and preliminary SARs of keto-indoles as novel indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) inhibitors. Eur J Med Chem, 46 (7), pp. 3058-3065. | Show Abstract | Read more

Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is an important new therapeutic target for the treatment of cancer. With the aim of discovering novel IDO inhibitors, a virtual screen was undertaken and led to the discovery of the keto-indole derivative 1a endowed with an inhibitory potency in the micromolar range. Detailed kinetics were performed and revealed an uncompetitive inhibition profile. Preliminary SARs were drawn in this series and corroborated the putative binding orientation as suggested by docking.

Gutierrez-Roelens I, Galant C, Theate I, Lories RJ, Durez P, Nzeusseu-Toukap A, Van den Eynde B, Houssiau FA, Lauwerys BR. 2011. Rituximab treatment induces the expression of genes involved in healing processes in the rheumatoid arthritis synovium. Arthritis Rheum, 63 (5), pp. 1246-1254. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Rituximab displays therapeutic benefits in the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) resistant to tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockade. However, the precise role of B cells in the pathogenesis of RA is still unknown. We undertook this study to investigate the global molecular effects of rituximab in synovial biopsy samples obtained from anti-TNF-resistant RA patients before and after administration of the drug. METHODS: Paired synovial biopsy samples were obtained from the affected knee of anti-TNF-resistant RA patients before (time 0) and 12 weeks after (time 12) initiation of rituximab therapy. Total RNA was extracted, labeled according to standard Affymetrix procedures, and hybridized on GeneChip HGU133 Plus 2.0 slides. Immunohistochemistry and quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction experiments were performed to confirm the differential expression of selected transcripts. RESULTS: According to Student's paired t-tests, 549 of 54,675 investigated probe sets were differentially expressed between time 0 and time 12. Pathway analysis revealed that genes down-regulated between time 0 and time 12 were significantly enriched in immunoglobulin genes and genes involved in chemotaxis, leukocyte activation, and immune responses (Gene Ontology annotations). In contrast, genes up-regulated between time 0 and time 12 were significantly enriched in transcripts involved in cell development (Gene Ontology annotation) and wound healing (Gene Set Enrichment Analysis). At baseline, higher synovial expression of immunoglobulin genes was associated with response to therapy. CONCLUSION: Rituximab displays unique effects on global gene expression profiles in the synovial tissue of RA patients. These observations open new perspectives in the understanding of the biologic effects of the drug and in the selection of patients likely to benefit from this therapy.

Vigneron N, Van den Eynde BJ. 2011. Insights into the processing of MHC class I ligands gained from the study of human tumor epitopes. Cell Mol Life Sci, 68 (9), pp. 1503-1520. | Show Abstract | Read more

The molecular definition of tumor antigens recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) started in the late 1980s, at a time when the MHC class I antigen processing field was in its infancy. Born together, these two fields of science evolved together and provided each other with critical insights. Over the years, stimulated by the potential interest of tumor antigens for cancer immunotherapy, scientists have identified and characterized numerous antigens recognized by CTL on human tumors. These studies have provided a wealth of information relevant to the mode of production of antigenic peptides presented by MHC class I molecules. A number of tumor antigenic peptides were found to result from unusual mechanisms occurring at the level of transcription, translation or processing. Although many of these mechanisms occur in the cell at very low level, they are relevant to the immune system as they determine the killing of tumor cells by CTL, which are sensitive to low levels of peptide/MHC complexes. Moreover, these unusual mechanisms were found to occur not only in tumor cells but also in normal cells. Thereby, the study of tumor antigens has illuminated many aspects of MHC class I processing. We review here those insights into the MHC I antigen processing pathway that result from the characterization of human tumor antigens recognized by CTL.

Dolušić E, Larrieu P, Blanc S, Sapunaric F, Norberg B, Moineaux L, Colette D, Stroobant V, Pilotte L, Colau D et al. 2011. Indol-2-yl ethanones as novel indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) inhibitors. Bioorg Med Chem, 19 (4), pp. 1550-1561. | Show Abstract | Read more

Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is a heme dioxygenase which has been shown to be involved in the pathological immune escape of diseases such as cancer. The synthesis and structure-activity relationships (SAR) of a novel series of IDO inhibitors based on the indol-2-yl ethanone scaffold is described. In vitro and in vivo biological activities have been evaluated, leading to compounds with IC(50) values in the micromolar range in both tests. Introduction of small substituents in the 5- and 6-positions of the indole ring, indole N-methylation and variations of the aromatic side chain are all well tolerated. An iron coordinating group on the linker is a prerequisite for biological activity, thus corroborating the virtual screening results.

Corbière V, Chapiro J, Stroobant V, Ma W, Lurquin C, Lethé B, van Baren N, Van den Eynde BJ, Boon T, Coulie PG. 2011. Antigen spreading contributes to MAGE vaccination-induced regression of melanoma metastases. Cancer Res, 71 (4), pp. 1253-1262. | Show Abstract | Read more

A core challenge in cancer immunotherapy is to understand the basis for efficacious vaccine responses in human patients. In previous work we identified a melanoma patient who displayed a low-level antivaccine cytolytic T-cell (CTL) response in blood with tumor regression after vaccination with melanoma antigens (MAGE). Using a genetic approach including T-cell receptor β (TCRβ) cDNA libraries, we found very few antivaccine CTLs in regressing metastases. However, a far greater number of TCRβ sequences were found with several of these corresponding to CTL clones specific for nonvaccine tumor antigens, suggesting that antigen spreading was occurring in regressing metastases. In this study, we found another TCR belonging to tumor-specific CTL enriched in regressing metastases and detectable in blood only after vaccination. We used the TCRβ sequence to detect and clone the desired T cells from tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes isolated from the patient. This CD8 clone specifically lysed autologous melanoma cells and displayed HLA-A2 restriction. Its target antigen was identified as the mitochondrial enzyme caseinolytic protease. The target antigen gene was mutated in the tumor, resulting in production of a neoantigen. Melanoma cell lysis by the CTL was increased by IFN-γ treatment due to preferential processing of the antigenic peptide by the immunoproteasome. These results argue that tumor rejection effectors in the patient were indeed CTL responding to nonvaccine tumor-specific antigens, further supporting our hypothesis. Among such antigens, the mutated antigen we found is the only antigen against which no T cells could be detected before vaccination. We propose that antigen spreading of an antitumor T-cell response to truly tumor-specific antigens contributes decisively to tumor regression.

Soudja SM, Henri S, Mello M, Chasson L, Mas A, Wehbe M, Auphan-Anezin N, Leserman L, Van den Eynde B, Schmitt-Verhulst A-M. 2011. Disrupted lymph node and splenic stroma in mice with induced inflammatory melanomas is associated with impaired recruitment of T and dendritic cells. PLoS One, 6 (7), pp. e22639. | Show Abstract | Read more

Migration of dendritic cells (DC) from the tumor environment to the T cell cortex in tumor-draining lymph nodes (TDLN) is essential for priming naïve T lymphocytes (TL) to tumor antigen (Ag). We used a mouse model of induced melanoma in which similar oncogenic events generate two phenotypically distinct melanomas to study the influence of tumor-associated inflammation on secondary lymphoid organ (SLO) organization. One tumor promotes inflammatory cytokines, leading to mobilization of immature myeloid cells (iMC) to the tumor and SLO; the other does not. We report that inflammatory tumors induced alterations of the stromal cell network of SLO, profoundly altering the distribution of TL and the capacity of skin-derived DC and TL to migrate or home to TDLN. These defects, which did not require tumor invasion, correlated with loss of fibroblastic reticular cells in T cell zones and in impaired production of CCL21. Infiltrating iMC accumulated in the TDLN medulla and the splenic red pulp. We propose that impaired function of the stromal cell network during chronic inflammation induced by some tumors renders spleens non-receptive to TL and TDLN non-receptive to TL and migratory DC, while the entry of iMC into these perturbed SLO is enhanced. This could constitute a mechanism by which inflammatory tumors escape immune control. If our results apply to inflammatory tumors in general, the demonstration that SLO are poorly receptive to CCR7-dependent migration of skin-derived DC and naïve TL may constitute an obstacle for proposed vaccination or adoptive TL therapies of their hosts.

Dalet A, Stroobant V, Vigneron N, Van den Eynde BJ. 2011. Differences in the production of spliced antigenic peptides by the standard proteasome and the immunoproteasome. Eur J Immunol, 41 (1), pp. 39-46. | Show Abstract | Read more

Peptide splicing allows the production of antigenic peptides composed of two fragments initially non-contiguous in the parental protein. The proposed mechanism of splicing is a transpeptidation occurring within the proteasome. Three spliced peptides, derived from FGF-5, melanoma protein gp100 and nuclear protein SP110, have been described. Here, we compared the production of these spliced peptides by the standard proteasome and the immunoproteasome. Differential isotope labelling was used to quantify (by mass spectrometry) the fragments contained in digests obtained with precursor peptides and purified proteasomes. The results show that both the standard and the immunoproteasomes can produce spliced peptides although they differ in their efficiency of production of each peptide. The FGF-5 and gp100 peptides are more efficiently produced by the standard proteasome, whereas the SP110 peptide is more efficiently produced by the immunoproteasome. This seems to result from differences in the production of the two splicing partners, which depends on a balance between cleavages liberating or destroying those fragments. By showing that splicing depends on the efficiency of production of the splicing partners, these results also support the transpeptidation model of peptide splicing. Furthermore, given the presence of immunoproteasomes in dendritic cells and cells exposed to IFN-γ, the findings may be relevant for vaccine design.

James E, Yeh A, King C, Korangy F, Bailey I, Boulanger DS, Van den Eynde BJ, Murray N, Elliott TJ. 2010. Differential suppression of tumor-specific CD8+ T cells by regulatory T cells. J Immunol, 185 (9), pp. 5048-5055. | Show Abstract | Read more

In the CT26 BALB/c murine model of colorectal carcinoma, depletion of regulatory T cells (Tregs) prior to tumor inoculation results in protective immunity to both CT26 and other BALB/c-derived tumors of diverse histological origin. In this paper, we show that cross-protection can be conferred by adoptively transferred CD8(+) CTLs. Other schedules for inducing immunity to CT26 have been described, but they do not lead to cross-protection. We show that Treg ablation facilitates the development of new CTL specificities that are normally cryptic, and have mapped the root epitope of one of these responses. This work has allowed us to demonstrate how the specificity of CTL responses to tumor Ags can be controlled via differential suppression of CTL specificities by Tregs, and how this can result in very different physiological outcomes.

Kremer M, Henn A, Kolb C, Basler M, Moebius J, Guillaume B, Leist M, Van den Eynde BJ, Groettrup M. 2010. Reduced immunoproteasome formation and accumulation of immunoproteasomal precursors in the brains of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus-infected mice. J Immunol, 185 (9), pp. 5549-5560. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tissue inflammation is accompanied by the cytokine-mediated replacement of constitutive proteasomes by immunoproteasomes that finally leads to an optimized generation of MHC class I restricted epitopes for Ag presentation. The brain is considered an immunoprivileged organ, where both the special anatomy as well as active tolerance mechanisms repress the development of inflammatory responses and help to prevent immunopathological damage. We analyzed the immunoproteasome expression in the brain after an infection with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) and could show that LCMV-infection of mice leads to the transcriptional induction of inducible proteasome subunits in the brain. However, compared with other organs, i.p. and even intracranial infection with LCMV only led to a faint expression of mature immunoproteasome in the brain and resulted in the accumulation of immunoproteasomal precursors. By immunohistology, we could identify microglia-like cells as the main producers of immunoproteasome, whereas in astrocytes immunoproteasome expression was almost exclusively restricted to nuclei. Neither the immunoproteasome subunits low molecular mass polypeptide 2 nor multicatalytic endopeptidase complex-like-1 were detected in neurons or oligodendrocytes. In vitro studies of IFN-γ-stimulated primary astrocytes suggested that the observed accumulation of immunoproteasomal precursor complexes takes place in this cell population. Functionally, the lack of immunoproteasomes protracted and lowered the severity of LCMV-induced meningitis in LMP7(-/-) mice suggesting a contribution of immunoproteasomes in microglia to exacerbate immunopathological damage. We postulate a posttranslationally regulated mechanism that prevents abundant and inappropriate immunoproteasome assembly in the brain and may contribute to the protection of poorly regenerating cells of the CNS from immunopathological destruction.

Guillaume B, Chapiro J, Stroobant V, Colau D, Van Holle B, Parvizi G, Bousquet-Dubouch M-P, Théate I, Parmentier N, Van den Eynde BJ. 2010. Two abundant proteasome subtypes that uniquely process some antigens presented by HLA class I molecules. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 107 (43), pp. 18599-18604. | Show Abstract | Read more

Most antigenic peptides presented by MHC class I molecules result from the degradation of intracellular proteins by the proteasome. In lymphoid tissues and cells exposed to IFNγ, the standard proteasome is replaced by the immunoproteasome, in which all of the standard catalytic subunits β1, β2, and β5 are replaced by their inducible counterparts β1i, β2i, and β5i, which have different cleavage specificities. The immunoproteasome thereby shapes the repertoire of antigenic peptides. The existence of additional forms of proteasomes bearing a mixed assortment of standard and inducible catalytic subunits has been suggested. Using a new set of unique subunit-specific antibodies, we have now isolated, quantified, and characterized human proteasomes that are intermediate between the standard proteasome and the immunoproteasome. They contain only one (β5i) or two (β1i and β5i) of the three inducible catalytic subunits of the immunoproteasome. These intermediate proteasomes represent between one-third and one-half of the proteasome content of human liver, colon, small intestine, and kidney. They are also present in human tumor cells and dendritic cells. We identified two tumor antigens of clinical interest that are processed exclusively either by intermediate proteasomes β5i (MAGE-A3(271-279)) or by intermediate proteasomes β1i-β5i (MAGE-A10(254-262)). The existence of these intermediate proteasomes broadens the repertoire of antigens presented to CD8 T cells and implies that the antigens presented by a given cell depend on their proteasome content.

Caballero OL, Zhao Q, Rimoldi D, Stevenson BJ, Svobodová S, Devalle S, Röhrig UF, Pagotto A, Michielin O, Speiser D et al. 2010. Frequent MAGE mutations in human melanoma. PLoS One, 5 (9), pp. e12773-e12773. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Cancer/testis (CT) genes are expressed only in the germ line and certain tumors and are most frequently located on the X-chromosome (the CT-X genes). Amongst the best studied CT-X genes are those encoding several MAGE protein families. The function of MAGE proteins is not well understood, but several have been shown to potentially influence the tumorigenic phenotype. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We undertook a mutational analysis of coding regions of four CT-X MAGE genes, MAGEA1, MAGEA4, MAGEC1, MAGEC2 and the ubiquitously expressed MAGEE1 in human melanoma samples. We first examined cell lines established from tumors and matching blood samples from 27 melanoma patients. We found that melanoma cell lines from 37% of patients contained at least one mutated MAGE gene. The frequency of mutations in the coding regions of individual MAGE genes varied from 3.7% for MAGEA1 and MAGEA4 to 14.8% for MAGEC2. We also examined 111 fresh melanoma samples collected from 86 patients. In this case, samples from 32% of the patients exhibited mutations in one or more MAGE genes with the frequency of mutations in individual MAGE genes ranging from 6% in MAGEA1 to 16% in MAGEC1. SIGNIFICANCE: These results demonstrate for the first time that the MAGE gene family is frequently mutated in melanoma.

Leonhardt RM, Vigneron N, Rahner C, Van den Eynde BJ, Cresswell P. 2010. Endoplasmic reticulum export, subcellular distribution, and fibril formation by Pmel17 require an intact N-terminal domain junction. J Biol Chem, 285 (21), pp. 16166-16183. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pmel17 is a melanocyte/melanoma-specific protein that subcellularly localizes to melanosomes, where it forms a fibrillar matrix that serves for the sequestration of potentially toxic reaction intermediates of melanin synthesis and deposition of the pigment. As a key factor in melanosomal biogenesis, understanding intracellular trafficking and processing of Pmel17 is of central importance to comprehend how these organelles are formed, how they mature, and how they function in the cell. Using a series of deletion and missense mutants of Pmel17, we are able to show that the integrity of the junction between the N-terminal region and the polycystic kidney disease-like domain is highly crucial for endoplasmic reticulum export, subcellular targeting, and fibril formation by Pmel17 and thus for establishing functional melanosomes.

Soudja SM, Wehbe M, Mas A, Chasson L, de Tenbossche CP, Huijbers I, Van den Eynde B, Schmitt-Verhulst A-M. 2010. Tumor-initiated inflammation overrides protective adaptive immunity in an induced melanoma model in mice. Cancer Res, 70 (9), pp. 3515-3525. | Show Abstract | Read more

We studied the effect of the immune system on two differentially aggressive melanomas developing in mice on conditional deletion of the INK4A/ARF tumor suppressor gene, with concomitant expression of oncogene H-Ras(G12V) and a natural cancer-germline tumor antigen (TA). "Slow progressor" melanomas contained no activated T lymphocytes (TL). In contrast, "aggressive" melanomas were infiltrated by activated TLs lacking effector molecules and expressing high levels of PD-1, indicating an exhausted phenotype. Aggressive melanomas were also infiltrated by immature myeloid cells (IMC). Infiltration was associated with local inflammation and systemic Th2/Th17-oriented chronic inflammation that seemed to impair further activation of TLs, as tumor-specific T cells adoptively transferred into mice bearing aggressive melanomas were poorly activated and failed to infiltrate the melanoma. This immunosuppression also led to the incapacity of these mice to reject inoculated TA-positive tumors, in contrast to slow-progressing melanoma-bearing mice, which were responsive. To test the role of adaptive immunity in tumor progression, we induced melanomas in immunodeficient RagKO compound mice. These mice developed aggressive but not slow-progressing melanomas at a higher frequency and with a shorter latency than immunocompetent mice. Immunodeficient mice also developed abnormal inflammation and infiltration of IMCs in a manner similar to immunocompetent mice, indicating that this phenotype was not dependent on adaptive immunity. Therefore, tumor-intrinsic factors distinguishing the two melanoma types control the initiation of inflammation, which was independent of adaptive immunity. The latter delayed development of aggressive melanomas but was overridden by inflammation.

Parmentier N, Stroobant V, Colau D, de Diesbach P, Morel S, Chapiro J, van Endert P, Van den Eynde BJ. 2010. Production of an antigenic peptide by insulin-degrading enzyme. Nat Immunol, 11 (5), pp. 449-454. | Show Abstract | Read more

Most antigenic peptides presented by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules are produced by the proteasome. Here we show that a proteasome-independent peptide derived from the human tumor protein MAGE-A3 is produced directly by insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE), a cytosolic metallopeptidase. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte recognition of tumor cells was reduced after metallopeptidase inhibition or IDE silencing. Separate inhibition of the metallopeptidase and the proteasome impaired degradation of MAGE-A3 proteins, and simultaneous inhibition of both further stabilized MAGE-A3 proteins. These results suggest that MAGE-A3 proteins are degraded along two parallel pathways that involve either the proteasome or IDE and produce different sets of antigenic peptides presented by MHC class I molecules.

Dalet A, Vigneron N, Stroobant V, Hanada K-I, Van den Eynde BJ. 2010. Splicing of distant peptide fragments occurs in the proteasome by transpeptidation and produces the spliced antigenic peptide derived from fibroblast growth factor-5. J Immunol, 184 (6), pp. 3016-3024. | Show Abstract | Read more

Peptide splicing is a newly described mode of production of antigenic peptides presented by MHC class I molecules, whereby two noncontiguous fragments of the parental protein are joined together after excision of the intervening segment. Three spliced peptides have been described. In two cases, splicing involved the excision of a short intervening segment of 4 or 6 aa and was shown to occur in the proteasome by transpeptidation resulting from the nucleophilic attack of an acyl-enzyme intermediate by the N terminus of the other peptide fragment. For the third peptide, which is derived from fibroblast growth factor-5 (FGF-5), the splicing mechanism remains unknown. In this case, the intervening segment is 40 aa long. This much greater length made the transpeptidation model more difficult to envision. Therefore, we evaluated the role of the proteasome in the splicing of this peptide. We observed that the spliced FGF-5 peptide was produced in vitro after incubation of proteasomes with a 49-aa-long precursor peptide. We evaluated the catalytic mechanism by incubating proteasomes with various precursor peptides. The results confirmed the transpeptidation model of splicing. By transfecting a series of mutant FGF-5 constructs, we observed that reducing the length of the intervening segment increased the production of the spliced peptide, as predicted by the transpeptidation model. Finally, we observed that trans-splicing (i.e., splicing of fragments from two distinct proteins) can occur in the cell, but with a much lower efficacy than splicing of fragments from the same protein.

Röhrig UF, Awad L, Grosdidier A, Larrieu P, Stroobant V, Colau D, Cerundolo V, Simpson AJG, Vogel P, Van den Eynde BJ et al. 2010. Rational design of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase inhibitors. J Med Chem, 53 (3), pp. 1172-1189. | Show Abstract | Read more

Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is an important therapeutic target for the treatment of diseases such as cancer that involve pathological immune escape. We have used the evolutionary docking algorithm EADock to design new inhibitors of this enzyme. First, we investigated the modes of binding of all known IDO inhibitors. On the basis of the observed docked conformations, we developed a pharmacophore model, which was then used to devise new compounds to be tested for IDO inhibition. We also used a fragment-based approach to design and to optimize small organic molecule inhibitors. Both approaches yielded several new low-molecular weight inhibitor scaffolds, the most active being of nanomolar potency in an enzymatic assay. Cellular assays confirmed the potential biological relevance of four different scaffolds.

Geiss-Friedlander R, Parmentier N, Möller U, Urlaub H, Van den Eynde BJ, Melchior F. 2009. The cytoplasmic peptidase DPP9 is rate-limiting for degradation of proline-containing peptides. J Biol Chem, 284 (40), pp. 27211-27219. | Show Abstract | Read more

Protein degradation is an essential process that continuously takes place in all living cells. Regulated degradation of most cellular proteins is initiated by proteasomes, which produce peptides of varying length. These peptides are rapidly cleaved to single amino acids by cytoplasmic peptidases. Proline-containing peptides pose a specific problem due to structural constrains imposed by the pyrrolidine ring that prevents most peptidases from cleavage. Here we show that DPP9, a poorly characterized cytoplasmic prolyl-peptidase, is rate-limiting for destruction of proline-containing substrates both in cell extracts and in intact cells. We identified the first natural substrate for DPP9, the RU1(34-42) antigenic peptide (VPYGSFKHV). RU1(34-42) is degraded in vitro by DPP9, and down-regulation of DPP9 in intact cells results in increased presentation of this antigen. Together our findings demonstrate an important role for DPP9 in peptide turnover and antigen presentation.

Badot V, Galant C, Nzeusseu Toukap A, Theate I, Maudoux A-L, Van den Eynde BJ, Durez P, Houssiau FA, Lauwerys BR. 2009. Gene expression profiling in the synovium identifies a predictive signature of absence of response to adalimumab therapy in rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Res Ther, 11 (2), pp. R57. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: To identify markers and mechanisms of resistance to adalimumab therapy, we studied global gene expression profiles in synovial tissue specimens obtained from severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients before and after initiation of treatment. METHODS: Paired synovial biopsies were obtained from the affected knee of 25 DMARD (disease-modifying antirheumatic drug)-resistant RA patients at baseline (T0) and 12 weeks (T12) after initiation of adalimumab therapy. DAS28-CRP (disease activity score using 28 joint counts-C-reactive protein) scores were computed at the same time points, and patients were categorized as good, moderate, or poor responders according to European League Against Rheumatism criteria. Global gene expression profiles were performed in a subset of patients by means of GeneChip Human Genome U133 Plus 2.0 Arrays, and confirmatory immunohistochemistry experiments were performed on the entire cohort. RESULTS: Gene expression studies performed at baseline identified 439 genes associated with poor response to therapy. The majority (n = 411) of these genes were upregulated in poor responders and clustered into two specific pathways: cell division and regulation of immune responses (in particular, cytokines, chemokines, and their receptors). Immunohistochemistry experiments confirmed that high baseline synovial expression of interleukin-7 receptor alpha chain (IL-7R), chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 11 (CXCL11), IL-18, IL-18 receptor accessory (IL-18rap), and MKI67 is associated with poor response to adalimumab therapy. In vitro experiments indicated that genes overexpressed in poor responders could be induced in fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) cultures by the addition of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) alone, IL-1beta alone, the combination of TNF-alpha and IL-17, and the combination of TNF-alpha and IL-1beta. CONCLUSIONS: Gene expression studies of the RA synovium may be useful in the identification of early markers of response to TNF blockade. Genes significantly overexpressed at baseline in poor responders are induced by several cytokines in FLSs, thereby suggesting a role for these cytokines in the resistance to TNF blockade in RA.

Dessars B, De Raeve LE, Morandini R, Lefort A, El Housni H, Ghanem GE, Van den Eynde BJ, Ma W, Roseeuw D, Vassart G et al. 2009. Genotypic and gene expression studies in congenital melanocytic nevi: insight into initial steps of melanotumorigenesis. J Invest Dermatol, 129 (1), pp. 139-147. | Show Abstract | Read more

Large congenital melanocytic nevi (CMNs) are said to have a higher propensity to malignant transformation compared with acquired nevi. Thus, they represent a good model for studying initial steps of melanotumorigenesis. We have performed genotypic (karyotype, fluorescence in situ hybridization, and mutational analyses) and differential expression studies on a large cohort of medium (n=3) and large (n=24) CMN. Chromosomal abnormalities were rare and single, a feature probably reflecting the benignity of these lesions. Mutational screening showed a high frequency of NRAS mutations in our series (19/27 cases, 70%), whereas BRAF mutations were less common (4/27 cases, 15%). Differential did not show significant alterations of cellular processes such as cell proliferation, cell migration/invasion, angiogenesis, apoptosis, and immune/inflammatory responses. However, significant downregulation of genes involved in pigmentation and upregulation of genes playing a role in DNA protection were observed. Lastly, our microarrays displayed upregulation of genes mediating chemoresistance in cancer. As alteration of pigmentation mechanisms can trigger oxidative damage, increased expression of genes involved in maintenance of DNA integrity might reflect the ability of nevocytic cells to self-protect against cellular stress. Furthermore, the observed alterations linked to chemoresistance might partially account for the well-known inefficacy of chemotherapy in malignant melanoma.

Tykodi SS, Fujii N, Vigneron N, Lu SM, Mito JK, Miranda MX, Chou J, Voong LN, Thompson JA, Sandmaier BM et al. 2008. C19orf48 encodes a minor histocompatibility antigen recognized by CD8+ cytotoxic T cells from renal cell carcinoma patients. Clin Cancer Res, 14 (16), pp. 5260-5269. | Show Abstract | Read more

PURPOSE: Tumor regression has been observed in some patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) after nonmyeloablative allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). Cellular and molecular characterization of antigens recognized by tumor-reactive T cells isolated from responding patients could potentially provide insight into the mechanisms of tumor regression. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: CD8+ CTL clones that recognized a novel RCC-associated minor histocompatibility (H) antigen presented by HLA-A*0201 were isolated from two patients with metastatic RCC who experienced tumor regression or stable disease following nonmyeloablative allogeneic HCT. These clones were used to screen a cDNA library and isolate the unique cDNA encoding the antigen. RESULTS: An alternative open reading frame in the C19orf48 gene located on chromosome 19q13 encodes the HLA-A*0201-restricted minor H antigen recognized by the RCC-reactive T cells. The differential T-cell recognition of donor- and recipient-derived target cells is attributable to a nonsynonymous single-nucleotide polymorphism within the nucleotide interval that encodes the antigenic peptide. Assays for gene expression and CTL recognition showed that the C19orf48-encoded peptide is widely expressed in renal tumors and solid tumors of other histologies. The antigenic peptide can be processed for CTL recognition via both TAP-dependent and TAP-independent pathways. CONCLUSIONS: Donor T-cell responses against the HLA-A*0201-restricted minor H antigen encoded by C19orf48 may contribute to RCC regression after MHC-matched allogeneic HCT.

Rosinski KV, Fujii N, Mito JK, Koo KKW, Xuereb SM, Sala-Torra O, Gibbs JS, Radich JP, Akatsuka Y, Van den Eynde BJ et al. 2008. DDX3Y encodes a class I MHC-restricted H-Y antigen that is expressed in leukemic stem cells. Blood, 111 (9), pp. 4817-4826. | Show Abstract | Read more

The Y chromosome encodes male-specific minor histocompatibility (H-Y) antigens that stimulate T- and B-lymphocyte responses after sex-mismatched allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). A CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clone that recognizes a novel HLA-B*2705-restricted H-Y antigen encoded by the DDX3Y gene was isolated from a male who had received a hematopoietic cell graft from his human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-identical sister. The antigenic peptide is a decamer that differs from the homologous DDX3X-encoded peptide at 4 positions. Expression of DDX3Y and of the H-Y epitope that it encodes was examined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and by CTL recognition assays. Expression of DDX3Y is detected in all myeloid and lymphoid leukemic cells that carry an intact Y chromosome. Moreover, the DDX3Y-encoded H-Y epitope is presented on the surface of both myeloid and lymphoid leukemic cells from male HLA-B*2705(+) patients. DDX3Y-specific CTLs prevent engraftment of human acute leukemia in nonobese diabetic/severe combined immune deficient mice, demonstrating that the DDX3Y-encoded H-Y antigen is also expressed in leukemic stem cells. These results demonstrate that CD8(+) T-cell responses against DDX3Y have the potential to contribute to graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) activity after female into male allogeneic HCT. This study is registered at http://clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00107354.

Baurain J-F, Van der Bruggen P, Van den Eynde BJ, Coulie PG, Van Baren N. 2008. [General principles and first clinical trials of therapeutic vaccines against cancer]. Bull Cancer, 95 (3), pp. 327-335. | Show Abstract | Read more

In this brief review we describe the general principles of the antigenicity of human tumor cells, which can be recognized by T lymphocytes and particularly by cytolytic T lymphocytes. This antigenicity of tumor cells lead to the development of therapeutic anticancer vaccines that should induce tumor regressions or prevent the development of metastases in the vaccinated patients. We provide some information on a set of small scale clinical trials that we have carried out with metastatic melanoma patients, and which have provided encouraging though limited clinical results. Detailed immunological analyses with some of these vaccinated patients showed strong anti-tumor T cell responses and suggested that the main limiting factor for clinical efficacy is a phenomenon of resistance of the tumor to T lymphocyte attack. Current research projects aim at elucidating the mechanisms of this resistance and to develop new vaccination strategies that circumvent this roadblock.

Van den Eynde BJ, Théate I, Uyttenhove C, Colau D, Pilotte L, Stroobant V. 2007. Tumoral immune resistance based on tryptophan degradation by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase International Congress Series, 1304 pp. 274-277. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tumor cells constitutively express indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), which degrades tryptophan and lowers tryptophan concentration in the local microenvironment. Such altered microenvironment protects tumor cells from rejection by the immune system, as T lymphocytes are exquisitely sensitive to tryptophan shortage. This may explain the low clinical efficacy of cancer immunotherapy based on vaccination. Preclinical studies indicate that this immune resistance mechanism can be blocked by systemic delivery of a pharmacological IDO inhibitor, 1-methyl-l-tryptophan. These results suggest the clinical efficacy of cancer immunotherapy can be boosted by combined treatment of cancer patients with an IDO inhibitor. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Näslund TI, Uyttenhove C, Nordström EKL, Colau D, Warnier G, Jondal M, Van den Eynde BJ, Liljeström P. 2007. Comparative prime-boost vaccinations using Semliki Forest virus, adenovirus, and ALVAC vectors demonstrate differences in the generation of a protective central memory CTL response against the P815 tumor. J Immunol, 178 (11), pp. 6761-6769. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tumor-specific Ags are potential target molecules in the therapeutic treatment of cancer. One way to elicit potent immune responses against these Ags is to use recombinant viruses, which activate both the innate and the adaptive arms of the immune system. In this study, we have compared Semliki Forest virus (SFV), adenovirus, and ALVAC (poxvirus) vectors for their capacity to induce CD8(+) T cell responses against the P1A tumor Ag and to elicit protection against subsequent challenge injection of P1A-expressing P815 tumor cells in DBA/2 mice. Both homologous and heterologous prime-boost regimens were studied. In most cases, both higher CD8(+) T cell responses and better tumor protections were observed in mice immunized with heterologous prime-boost regimens, suggesting that the combination of different viral vectors is beneficial for the induction of an effective immune response. However, homologous immunization with SFV provided potent tumor protection despite a rather moderate primary CD8(+) T cell response as compared with mice immunized with recombinant adenovirus. SFV-immunized mice showed a rapid and more extensive expansion of P1A-specific CD8(+) T cells in the tumor-draining lymph node after tumor challenge and had a higher frequency of CD62L(+) P1A-specific T cells in the blood, spleen, and lymph nodes as compared with adenoimmunized mice. Our results indicate that not only the magnitude but in particular the quality of the CD8(+) T cell response correlates with tumor protection.

van der Bruggen P, Traversari C, Chomez P, Lurquin C, De Plaen E, Van den Eynde BJ, Knuth A, Boon T. 2007. A gene encoding an antigen recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes on a human melanoma. J Immunol, 178 (5), pp. 2617-2621.

Van den Eynde B. 2007. [Discovery of the splicing of peptides by the proteasome and study of preclinical models of anticancer immunotherapy]. Bull Mem Acad R Med Belg, 162 (5-6), pp. 352-356. | Show Abstract

Our scientific activity belongs to tumor immunology: in the last fifteen years, we have contributed to the molecular definition of tumor antigens recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes, both in human and mice, and to the validation of cancer immunotherapy in appropriate preclinical models. Here we describe two findings that we recently made in this field. The first is the discovery of a new mechanism of production of antigenic peptides, based on the splicing of peptides by the proteasome. The second is the discovery of an important mechanism of tumor resistance to immune rejection. The major interest of this mechanism is that it can be fought with pharmacological agents, which could be used to boost the efficacy of immunotherapy in cancer patients.

Warren EH, Vigneron NJ, Gavin MA, Coulie PG, Stroobant V, Dalet A, Tykodi SS, Xuereb SM, Mito JK, Riddell SR, Van den Eynde BJ. 2006. An antigen produced by splicing of noncontiguous peptides in the reverse order. Science, 313 (5792), pp. 1444-1447. | Show Abstract | Read more

CD8-positive T lymphocytes recognize peptides that are usually derived from the degradation of cellular proteins and are presented by class I molecules of the major histocompatibility complex. Here we describe a human minor histocompatibility antigen created by a polymorphism in the SP110 nuclear phosphoprotein gene. The antigenic peptide comprises two noncontiguous SP110 peptide segments spliced together in reverse order to that in which they occur in the predicted SP110 protein. The antigenic peptide could be produced in vitro by incubation of precursor peptides with highly purified 20S proteasomes. Cutting and splicing probably occur within the proteasome by transpeptidation.

Chapatte L, Ayyoub M, Morel S, Peitrequin A-L, Lévy N, Servis C, Van den Eynde BJ, Valmori D, Lévy F. 2006. Processing of tumor-associated antigen by the proteasomes of dendritic cells controls in vivo T-cell responses. Cancer Res, 66 (10), pp. 5461-5468. | Show Abstract | Read more

Dendritic cells are unique in their capacity to process antigens and prime naive CD8(+) T cells. Contrary to most cells, which express the standard proteasomes, dendritic cells express immunoproteasomes constitutively. The melanoma-associated protein Melan-A(MART1) contains an HLA-A2-restricted peptide that is poorly processed by melanoma cells expressing immunoproteasomes in vitro. Here, we show that the expression of Melan-A in dendritic cells fails to elicit T-cell responses in vitro and in vivo because it is not processed by the proteasomes of dendritic cells. In contrast, dendritic cells lacking immunoproteasomes induce strong anti-Melan-A T-cell responses in vitro and in vivo. These results suggest that the inefficient processing of self-antigens, such as Melan-A, by the immunoproteasomes of professional antigen-presenting cells prevents the induction of antitumor T-cell responses in vivo.

Huijbers IJ, Krimpenfort P, Chomez P, van der Valk MA, Song J-Y, Inderberg-Suso E-M, Schmitt-Verhulst A-M, Berns A, Van den Eynde BJ. 2006. An inducible mouse model of melanoma expressing a defined tumor antigen. Cancer Res, 66 (6), pp. 3278-3286. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cancer immunotherapy based on vaccination with defined tumor antigens has not yet shown strong clinical efficacy, despite promising results in preclinical models. This discrepancy might result from the fact that available preclinical models rely on transplantable tumors, which do not recapitulate the long-term host-tumor interplay that occurs in patients during progressive tumor development and results in tumor tolerance. To create a faithful preclinical model for cancer immunotherapy, we generated a transgenic mouse strain developing autologous melanomas expressing a defined tumor antigen recognized by T cells. We chose the antigen encoded by P1A, a well-characterized murine cancer germ line gene. To transform melanocytes, we aimed at simultaneously activating the Ras pathway and inactivating tumor suppressor Ink4a/Arf, thereby reproducing two genetic events frequently observed in human melanoma. The melanomas are induced by s.c. injection of 4-OH-tamoxifen (OHT). By activating a CreER recombinase expressed from a melanocyte-specific promoter, this treatment induces the loss of the conditional Ink4a/Arf gene in melanocytes. Because the CreER gene itself is also flanked by loxP sites, the activation of CreER also induces the deletion of its own coding sequence and thereby allows melanocyte-specific expression of genes H-ras and P1A, which are located downstream on the same transgene. All melanomas induced in those mice with OHT show activation of the Ras pathway and deletion of gene Ink4a/Arf. In addition, these melanomas express P1A and are recognized by P1A-specific T lymphocytes. This model will allow to characterize the interactions between the immune system and naturally occurring tumors and thereby to optimize immunotherapy approaches targeting a defined tumor antigen.

van der Bruggen P, Van den Eynde BJ. 2006. Processing and presentation of tumor antigens and vaccination strategies. Curr Opin Immunol, 18 (1), pp. 98-104. | Show Abstract | Read more

Various new aspects of antigen processing have been uncovered through the study of tumor antigens. One of these is the production of antigenic peptides by splicing of two distinct peptide fragments. In one of the two cases reported, the proteasome was found to be responsible for splicing. The presentation of another peptide on major histocompatibility complex class I molecules was found to depend on secretion and reuptake of the parent protein, implying a cross-presentation pathway in melanoma cells. Class II presentation of peptides derived from cytosolic proteins now appears to result from autophagy. Based on increased knowledge on antigen processing and presentation, new vaccination strategies are aimed at improving the targeting of antigens to dendritic cells, promoting cross-priming (for example, using chloroquine), improving peptide binding to class I molecules and targeting antigens to both the class I and the class II pathways.

Chapiro J, Claverol S, Piette F, Ma W, Stroobant V, Guillaume B, Gairin J-E, Morel S, Burlet-Schiltz O, Monsarrat B et al. 2006. Destructive cleavage of antigenic peptides either by the immunoproteasome or by the standard proteasome results in differential antigen presentation. J Immunol, 176 (2), pp. 1053-1061. | Show Abstract | Read more

The immunoproteasome (IP) is usually viewed as favoring the production of antigenic peptides presented by MHC class I molecules, mainly because of its higher cleavage activity after hydrophobic residues, referred to as the chymotrypsin-like activity. However, some peptides have been found to be better produced by the standard proteasome. The mechanism of this differential processing has not been described. By studying the processing of three tumor antigenic peptides of clinical interest, we demonstrate that their differential processing mainly results from differences in the efficiency of internal cleavages by the two proteasome types. Peptide gp100(209-217) (ITDQVPSFV) and peptide tyrosinase369-377 (YMDGTMSQV) are destroyed by the IP, which cleaves after an internal hydrophobic residue. Conversely, peptide MAGE-C2(336-344) (ALKDVEERV) is destroyed by the standard proteasome by internal cleavage after an acidic residue, in line with its higher postacidic activity. These results indicate that the IP may destroy some antigenic peptides due to its higher chymotrypsin-like activity, rather than favor their production. They also suggest that the sets of peptides produced by the two proteasome types differ more than expected. Considering that mature dendritic cells mainly contain IPs, our results have implications for the design of immunotherapy strategies.

Boon T, Coulie PG, Van den Eynde BJ, van der Bruggen P. 2006. Human T cell responses against melanoma. Annu Rev Immunol, 24 (1), pp. 175-208. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many antigens recognized by autologous T lymphocytes have been identified on human melanoma. Melanoma patients usually mount a spontaneous T cell response against their tumor. But at some point, the responder T cells become ineffective, probably because of a local immunosuppressive process occurring at the tumor sites. Therapeutic vaccination of metastatic melanoma patients with these antigens is followed by tumor regressions only in a small minority of the patients. The T cell responses to the vaccines show correlation with the tumor regressions. The local immunosuppression may be the cause of the lack of vaccination effectiveness that is observed in most patients. In patients who do respond to the vaccine, the antivaccine T cells probably succeed in reversing focally this immunosuppression and trigger a broad activation of other antitumor T cells, which proceed to destroy the tumor.

Vigneron N, Ooms A, Morel S, Ma W, Degiovanni G, Van den Eynde BJ. 2005. A peptide derived from melanocytic protein gp100 and presented by HLA-B35 is recognized by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes on melanoma cells. Tissue Antigens, 65 (2), pp. 156-162. | Show Abstract | Read more

A panel of autologous cytolytic T lymphocyte (CTL) clones have been isolated from blood lymphocytes of a melanoma patient after in vitro stimulation with autologous tumor cells. We previously reported the molecular definition of three distinct antigens recognized by some of these CTL clones. We describe here, the identification of a fourth antigenic peptide expressed by this melanoma line and recognized by a CTL clone restricted by HLA-B*3503. The antigenic peptide, which is nine-amino acid long, has the sequence LPHSSSHWL and is derived from melanocyte differentiation antigen gp100. As HLA-B35 is one of the most frequent HLA-B alleles, being present in 20% of the Caucasian individuals, this peptide may be a good target for peptide-based immunotherapy of melanoma.

Probst-Kepper M, Hecht H-J, Herrmann H, Janke V, Ocklenburg F, Klempnauer J, van den Eynde BJ, Weiss S. 2004. Conformational restraints and flexibility of 14-meric peptides in complex with HLA-B*3501. J Immunol, 173 (9), pp. 5610-5616. | Show Abstract | Read more

Human HLA-B*3501 binds an antigenic peptide of 14-aa length derived from an alternative reading frame of M-CSF with high affinity. Due to its extraordinary length, the exact HLA binding mode was unpredictable. The crystal structure of HLA-B*3501 at 1.5 A shows that the N and C termini of the peptide are embedded in the A and F pockets, respectively, similar to a peptide of normal length. The central part of the 14-meric peptide bulges flexibly out of the groove. Two variants of the alternative reading frame of M-CSF peptide substituted at P2 or P2 and P9 with Ala display weak or no T cell activation. Their structure differs mainly in flexibility and conformation from the agonistic peptide. Moreover, the variants induce subtle changes of MHC alpha-helical regions implicated as critical for TCR contact. The TCR specifically recognizing this peptide/MHC complex exhibits CDR3 length within the normal range, suggesting major conformational adaptations of this receptor upon peptide/MHC binding. Thus, the potential antigenic repertoire recognizable by CTLs is larger than currently thought.

Ma W, Germeau C, Vigneron N, Maernoudt A-S, Morel S, Boon T, Coulie PG, Van den Eynde BJ. 2004. Two new tumor-specific antigenic peptides encoded by gene MAGE-C2 and presented to cytolytic T lymphocytes by HLA-A2. Int J Cancer, 109 (5), pp. 698-702. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have identified 2 antigens recognized by several melanoma-specific cytolytic T lymphocyte clones isolated from a melanoma patient with a clinical history of tumor regression after immunotherapy. Both antigens are presented by HLA-A2 and encoded by gene MAGE-C2, a cancer-germline gene shown previously to be silent in normal somatic tissues and expressed in 40% of melanomas and in other tumor types. One antigen corresponds to peptide ALKDVEERV(336-344), whereas the other corresponds to peptide LLFGLALIEV(191-200). The CTL clones recognizing these 2 peptides also recognized allogeneic tumor cell lines expressing MAGE-C2 and HLA-A2. These 2 new peptides are the first known MAGE-C antigens and represent promising targets for cancer immunotherapy.

Vigneron N, Stroobant V, Chapiro J, Ooms A, Degiovanni G, Morel S, van der Bruggen P, Boon T, Van den Eynde BJ. 2004. An antigenic peptide produced by peptide splicing in the proteasome. Science, 304 (5670), pp. 587-590. | Show Abstract | Read more

CD8 T lymphocytes recognize peptides of 8 to 10 amino acids presented by class I molecules of the major histocompatibility complex. Here, CD8 T lymphocytes were found to recognize a nonameric peptide on melanoma cells that comprises two noncontiguous segments of melanocytic glycoprotein gp100(PMEL17). The production of this peptide involves the excision of four amino acids and splicing of the fragments. This process was reproduced in vitro by incubating a precursor peptide of 13 amino acids with highly purified proteasomes. Splicing appears to occur by transpeptidation involving an acyl-enzyme intermediate. Our results reveal an unanticipated aspect of the proteasome function of producing antigenic peptides.

Shanker A, Auphan-Anezin N, Chomez P, Giraudo L, Van den Eynde B, Schmitt-Verhulst A-M. 2004. Thymocyte-intrinsic genetic factors influence CD8 T cell lineage commitment and affect selection of a tumor-reactive TCR. J Immunol, 172 (8), pp. 5069-5077. | Show Abstract | Read more

Selection of immature CD4CD8 double-positive (DP) thymocytes for CD4 or CD8-lineage commitment is controlled by the interaction of the TCR with stromal cell-expressed peptide/MHC. We show that thymocyte-intrinsic genes influence the pattern of expression of a MHC class I-restricted transgenic (tg) TCR so that in DBA/2 mice, DP thymocytes with a characteristically high expression of tg TCR, infrequently transit to CD8 single-positive thymocytes. In contrast, in B10.D2 mice, the same tg TCR is expressed at lower levels on a subpopulation of DP thymocytes that more frequently transit to CD8 single-positive thymocytes. These characteristics were not influenced by thymic stromal components that control positive selection. Radiation chimeras reconstituted with a mixture of BM from tg TCR mice of the two genetic backgrounds revealed that the relative frequency of transit to the CD8 lineage remained thymocyte-intrinsic. Identifying the gene products whose polymorphism controls CD8 T cell development may shed new light on the mechanisms controlling T cell commitment/selection in mice other than the most studied "C57BL/6"-based strains.

Dadaglio G, Morel S, Bauche C, Moukrim Z, Lemonnier FA, Van Den Eynde BJ, Ladant D, Leclerc C. 2003. Recombinant adenylate cyclase toxin of Bordetella pertussis induces cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses against HLA*0201-restricted melanoma epitopes. Int Immunol, 15 (12), pp. 1423-1430. | Show Abstract | Read more

The adenylate cyclase (CyaA) of Bordetella pertussis is able to deliver CD8(+) T cell epitopes into the cytosol of CD11b(+) dendritic cells (DC) following its specific interaction with the alpha(M)beta(2) integrin (CD11b/CD18). This delivery results in intracellular processing and presentation by MHC class I molecules of the CD8(+) T cell epitopes inserted into CyaA. Indeed, we previously showed that CyaA toxins carrying a single cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitope can induce efficient protective and therapeutic antitumor immunity in mice. With a view to elaborating cancer immunotherapy in humans using CyaA, we constructed two recombinant CyaA carrying HLA*0201-restricted melanoma epitopes. Here we show that these recombinant CyaA induce strong anti-melanoma CTL responses in HLA*0201 transgenic mice, even after a single i.v. immunization without adjuvant. These responses are long lasting, since they were also detected 5 months after the last injection. Finally, human DC treated with the recombinant CyaA were shown to process and present efficiently the melanoma epitopes to human CTL clones. Altogether, our results demonstrate that tumoral epitopes inserted into CyaA are efficiently processed and presented in association with human MHC molecules. These observations suggest that CyaA is capable of activating antitumoral CTL in humans and highlight the potential of CyaA for use in cancer immunotherapy.

Uyttenhove C, Pilotte L, Théate I, Stroobant V, Colau D, Parmentier N, Boon T, Van den Eynde BJ. 2003. Evidence for a tumoral immune resistance mechanism based on tryptophan degradation by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase. Nat Med, 9 (10), pp. 1269-1274. | Show Abstract | Read more

T lymphocytes undergo proliferation arrest when exposed to tryptophan shortage, which can be provoked by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), an enzyme that is expressed in placenta and catalyzes tryptophan degradation. Here we show that most human tumors constitutively express IDO. We also observed that expression of IDO by immunogenic mouse tumor cells prevents their rejection by preimmunized mice. This effect is accompanied by a lack of accumulation of specific T cells at the tumor site and can be partly reverted by systemic treatment of mice with an inhibitor of IDO, in the absence of noticeable toxicity. These results suggest that the efficacy of therapeutic vaccination of cancer patients might be improved by concomitant administration of an IDO inhibitor.

Boon T, Van den Eynde B. 2003. Tumour immunology. Curr Opin Immunol, 15 (2), pp. 129-130. | Read more

Van den Eynde B. 2003. [A new mechanism of tumor resistance to the immune system, based on tryptophan breakdown by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase]. Bull Mem Acad R Med Belg, 158 (7-9), pp. 356-363. | Show Abstract

T lymphocytes represent the main effectors of the immune response that can lead to tumor rejection, which represents the aim of various approaches of immunotherapy that are currently tested. However, in many cases, tumor cells appear to resist immune rejection. We have recently uncovered a new mechanism of tumoral immune resistance based on the expression by tumor cells of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), an enzyme that rapidly degrades tryptophan, an amino acid that is crucial to sustain proliferation of T lymphocytes. We showed that most human tumors constitutively express IDO. We also observed that expression of IDO by immunogenic mouse tumor cells, prevents their rejection by pre-immunized mice. This effect is accompanied by a lack of accumulation of specific T cells at the tumor site, and can be partly reverted by systemic treatment of mice with an inhibitor of IDO, in the absence of noticeable toxicity. These results suggest that the efficacy of therapeutic vaccination of cancer patients might be improved by concomitant administration of an IDO inhibitor.

Lévy F, Burri L, Morel S, Peitrequin A-L, Lévy N, Bachi A, Hellman U, Van den Eynde BJ, Servis C. 2002. The final N-terminal trimming of a subaminoterminal proline-containing HLA class I-restricted antigenic peptide in the cytosol is mediated by two peptidases. J Immunol, 169 (8), pp. 4161-4171. | Show Abstract | Read more

The proteasome produces MHC class I-restricted antigenic peptides carrying N-terminal extensions, which are trimmed by other peptidases in the cytosol or within the endoplasmic reticulum. In this study, we show that the N-terminal editing of an antigenic peptide with a predicted low TAP affinity can occur in the cytosol. Using proteomics, we identified two cytosolic peptidases, tripeptidyl peptidase II and puromycin-sensitive aminopeptidase, that trimmed the N-terminal extensions of the precursors produced by the proteasome, and led to a transient enrichment of the final antigenic peptide. These peptidases acted either sequentially or redundantly, depending on the extension remaining at the N terminus of the peptides released from the proteasome. Inhibition of these peptidases abolished the CTL-mediated recognition of Ag-expressing cells. Although we observed some proteolytic activity in fractions enriched in endoplasmic reticulum, it could not compensate for the loss of tripeptidyl peptidase II/puromycin-sensitive aminopeptidase activities.

Van Der Bruggen P, Zhang Y, Chaux P, Stroobant V, Panichelli C, Schultz ES, Chapiro J, Van Den Eynde BJ, Brasseur F, Boon T. 2002. Tumor-specific shared antigenic peptides recognized by human T cells. Immunol Rev, 188 (1), pp. 51-64. | Show Abstract | Read more

The first tumor-specific shared antigens and the cancer-germline genes that code for these antigens were identified with antitumor cytolytic T lymphocytes obtained from cancer patients. A few HLA class I-restricted antigenic peptides were identified by this 'direct approach'. A large set of additional cancer-germline genes have now been identified by purely genetic approaches or by screening tumor cDNA expression libraries with the serum of cancer patients. As a result, a vast number of sequences are known that can code for tumor-specific shared antigens, but most of the encoded antigenic peptides have not yet been identified. We review here recent 'reverse immunology' approaches for the identification of new antigenic peptides. They are based on in vitro stimulation of naive T cells with dendritic cells that have either been loaded with a cancer-germline protein or that have been transduced with viruses carrying cancer-germline coding sequences. These approaches have led to the identification of many new antigenic peptides presented by class I or class II molecules. We also describe some aspects of the processing and presentation of these antigenic peptides.

Bilsborough J, Uyttenhove C, Colau D, Bousso P, Libert C, Weynand B, Boon T, van den Eynde BJ. 2002. TNF-mediated toxicity after massive induction of specific CD8+ T cells following immunization of mice with a tumor-specific peptide. J Immunol, 169 (6), pp. 3053-3060. | Show Abstract | Read more

We immunized mice with antigenic peptide P815E, which is presented by H-2K(d) and recognized by tumor-specific CTL raised against P815 tumor cells. This peptide is encoded by the ubiquitously expressed gene MsrA and carries a mutated residue conferring tumor specificity. Unexpectedly, we observed a severe toxicity occurring in the early hours after the third injection, resulting in the death of most mice within 24 h. The toxic syndrome was reminiscent of TNF-induced shock, and the sera of ill mice contained high levels of TNF. Toxicity was prevented by injection of neutralizing anti-TNF Abs, confirming the involvement of TNF. Depletion of CD8+ T cells could also prevent toxicity, and ex vivo experiments confirmed that CD8+ lymphocytes were the major cellular source of TNF in immunized mice. Tetramer analysis of the lymphocytes of immunized mice indicated a massive expansion of P815E-specific T cells, up to >60% of circulating CD8+ lymphocytes. A similar toxicity was observed after massive expansion of specific CD8+ T cells following immunization with another P815 peptide, which is encoded by gene P1A and was injected in a form covalently linked to an immunostimulatory peptide derived from IL-1. We conclude that the toxicity is caused by specific CD8+ lymphocytes, which are extensively amplified by peptide immunization in a QS21-based adjuvant and produce toxic levels of TNF upon further stimulation with the peptide. Our results suggest that immunotherapy trials involving new peptides should be pursued with caution and should include a careful monitoring of the T cell response.

Vigneron N, Ooms A, Morel S, Degiovanni G, Van Den Eynde BJ. 2002. Identification of a new peptide recognized by autologous cytolytic Tlymphocytes on a human melanoma Cancer Immunity, 5 pp. 1-10. | Show Abstract

Melanoma line LG2-MEL expresses several antigens recognized by autologous CTLs. One of them consists of a peptide derived from tyrosinase and presented by HLA-B*3503. We have identified another antigen of LG2-MEL as a peptide presented by HLA-B*4403 and resulting from a point mutation in gene OS-9. This gene is expressed in various normal tissues. It is located on chromosome 12 in the vicinity of the CDK4 locus and is frequently co-amplified with CDK4 in human sarcomas. The mutation, a C-to-T transition, changes a proline residue into a leucine at position 446 of the OS-9 protein. Mutated transcripts were found in all the melanoma sublines of LG2-MEL. None of the 184 tumor samples collected from other cancer patients expressed the mutated transcript, indicating that this is a rare mutational event. Interestingly, some of the melanoma sublines of LG2-MEL have lost the wild-type allele of gene OS-9. Those sublines appear to grow faster in vitro than the sublines that retained the wild-type allele, suggesting that this loss of heterozygosity may favor tumor progression. The mutation we have identified in gene OS-9 might therefore participate in the oncogenic process by affecting the function of this potential tumor-suppressor gene.

Vigneron N, Ooms A, Morel S, Degiovanni G, Van Den Eynde BJ. 2002. Identification of a new peptide recognized by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes on a human melanoma. Cancer Immun, 2 pp. 9. | Show Abstract

Melanoma line LG2-MEL expresses several antigens recognized by autologous CTLs. One of them consists of a peptide derived from tyrosinase and presented by HLA-B*3503. We have identified another antigen of LG2-MEL as a peptide presented by HLA-B*4403 and resulting from a point mutation in gene OS-9. This gene is expressed in various normal tissues. It is located on chromosome 12 in the vicinity of the CDK4 locus and is frequently co-amplified with CDK4 in human sarcomas. The mutation, a C-to-T transition, changes a proline residue into a leucine at position 446 of the OS-9 protein. Mutated transcripts were found in all the melanoma sublines of LG2-MEL. None of the 184 tumor samples collected from other cancer patients expressed the mutated transcript, indicating that this is a rare mutational event. Interestingly, some of the melanoma sublines of LG2-MEL have lost the wild-type allele of gene OS-9. Those sublines appear to grow faster in vitro than the sublines that retained the wild-type allele, suggesting that this loss of heterozygosity may favor tumor progression. The mutation we have identified in gene OS-9 might therefore participate in the oncogenic process by affecting the function of this potential tumor-suppressor gene.

Schultz ES, Chapiro J, Lurquin C, Claverol S, Burlet-Schiltz O, Warnier G, Russo V, Morel S, Lévy F, Boon T et al. 2002. The production of a new MAGE-3 peptide presented to cytolytic T lymphocytes by HLA-B40 requires the immunoproteasome. J Exp Med, 195 (4), pp. 391-399. | Show Abstract | Read more

By stimulating human CD8(+) T lymphocytes with autologous dendritic cells infected with an adenovirus encoding MAGE-3, we obtained a cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clone that recognized a new MAGE-3 antigenic peptide, AELVHFLLL, which is presented by HLA-B40. This peptide is also encoded by MAGE-12. The CTL clone recognized MAGE-3--expressing tumor cells only when they were first treated with IFN-gamma. Since this treatment is known to induce the exchange of the three catalytic subunits of the proteasome to form the immunoproteasome, this result suggested that the processing of this MAGE-3 peptide required the immunoproteasome. Transfection experiments showed that the substitution of beta5i (LMP7) for beta5 is necessary and sufficient for producing the peptide, whereas a mutated form of beta5i (LMP7) lacking the catalytically active site was ineffective. Mass spectrometric analyses of in vitro digestions of a long precursor peptide with either proteasome type showed that the immunoproteasome produced the antigenic peptide more efficiently, whereas the standard proteasome more efficiently introduced cleavages destroying the antigenic peptide. This is the first example of a tumor-specific antigen exclusively presented by tumor cells expressing the immunoproteasome.

Probst-Kepper M, Stroobant V, Kridel R, Gaugler B, Landry C, Brasseur F, Cosyns JP, Weynand B, Boon T, Van Den Eynde BJ. 2001. An alternative open reading frame of the human macrophage colony-stimulating factor gene is independently translated and codes for an antigenic peptide of 14 amino acids recognized by tumor-infiltrating CD8 T lymphocytes. J Exp Med, 193 (10), pp. 1189-1198. | Show Abstract | Read more

We show that cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) infiltrating a kidney tumor recognize a peptide encoded by an alternative open reading frame (ORF) of the macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF) gene. Remarkably, this alternative ORF, which is translated in many tumors concurrently with the major ORF, is also translated in some tissues that do not produce M-CSF, such as liver and kidney. Such a dissociation of the translation of two overlapping ORFs from the same gene is unexpected. The antigenic peptide encoded by the alternative ORF is presented by human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA)-B*3501 and has a length of 14 residues. Peptide elution indicated that tumor cells naturally present this 14 mer, which is the longest peptide known to be recognized by CTLs. Binding studies of peptide analogues suggest that it binds by its two extremities and bulges out of the HLA groove to compensate for its length.

Van den Eynde BJ, Morel S. 2001. Differential processing of class-I-restricted epitopes by the standard proteasome and the immunoproteasome. Curr Opin Immunol, 13 (2), pp. 147-153. | Show Abstract | Read more

Upon exposure to IFN-gamma, the standard proteasome is replaced by the immunoproteasome, which contains LMP2, LMP7 and MECL1, and is considered more efficient at producing antigenic peptides presented to CD8(+) T cells. This view has been challenged this year by reports showing that some epitopes, mainly of self origin, are not processed by the immunoproteasome and that mature dendritic cells constitutively express immunoproteasomes and therefore cannot efficiently present such epitopes.

van den Eynde B. 2001. [Identification of cancer antigens of relevance for specific cancer immunotherapy]. Bull Mem Acad R Med Belg, 156 (10-12), pp. 548-555. | Show Abstract

Cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) play a major role in the recognition and destruction of tumor cells by the immune system. In the last ten years, our team has identified at the molecular level a number of markers, called antigens, whose presence at the surface of tumor cells allow CTL to recognize such cells. Some of these antigens, including those encoded by the MAGE genes, are absent on all normal cells, and therefore constitute ideal targets for cancer vaccines aimed at increasing the activity of anti-tumor lymphocytes. Such vaccines are currently tested in clinical trials with melanoma patients. These antigens consist of small peptides that are presented by HLA molecules and that result from the degradation of intracellular proteins. This degradation is performed by an intracellular proteolytic complex called the proteasome. We recently observed that dendritic cells, which in the lymph node are responsible for antigen presentation to the lymphocytes in order to initiate the immune response, are inefficient to produce some peptides because they contain a different proteasome called "immunoproteasome". This unexpected observation may have important implications for the choice of vaccination strategies.

Heidecker L, Brasseur F, Probst-Kepper M, Guéguen M, Boon T, Van den Eynde BJ. 2000. Cytolytic T lymphocytes raised against a human bladder carcinoma recognize an antigen encoded by gene MAGE-A12. J Immunol, 164 (11), pp. 6041-6045. | Show Abstract | Read more

Human bladder carcinoma line LB831-BLC expresses several distinct Ags that are recognized by different autologous CTL. Here, we show that one of these Ags is presented by HLA-Cw7 and encoded by gene MAGE-A12. This is the first time that CTL directed against a MAGE-encoded Ag have been derived from the lymphocytes of a patient with cancer other than melanoma. This new Ag was found to be nonapeptide VRIGHLYIL, corresponding to position 170-178 of the MAGE-A12 protein. Gene MAGE-A12 is silent in normal tissues except in male germline cells, which do not express HLA molecules. It is expressed in 26-62% of melanomas, infiltrating bladder carcinomas, lung carcinomas, esophageal carcinomas, and head and neck carcinomas. Because HLA-Cw7 is present in 43% of Caucasians, this new Ag is shared by many tumors and should be a useful target for cancer immunotherapy.

Morel S, Lévy F, Burlet-Schiltz O, Brasseur F, Probst-Kepper M, Peitrequin AL, Monsarrat B, Van Velthoven R, Cerottini JC, Boon T et al. 2000. Processing of some antigens by the standard proteasome but not by the immunoproteasome results in poor presentation by dendritic cells. Immunity, 12 (1), pp. 107-117. | Show Abstract | Read more

By stimulating human lymphocytes with an autologous renal carcinoma, we obtained CTL recognizing an antigen derived from a novel, ubiquitous protein. The CTL failed to lyse autologous EBV-transformed B cells, even though the latter express the protein. This is due to the presence in these cells of immunoproteasomes, which, unlike standard proteasomes, cannot produce the antigenic peptide. We show that dendritic cells also carry immunoproteasomes and fail to present this antigen. This may explain why the relevant CTL escape thymic deletion and are not regularly activated in the periphery. Lack of cleavage by the immunoproteasome was also observed for melanoma differentiation antigen Melan-A26-35/HLA-A2, currently used for antitumoral vaccination. For immunization with such antigens, proteins should be less suitable than peptides, which do not require proteasome digestion in dendritic cells.

Van Den Eynde BJ, Gaugler B, Probst-Kepper M, Michaux L, Devuyst O, Lorge F, Weynants P, Boon T. 1999. A new antigen recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes on a human kidney tumor results from reverse strand transcription. J Exp Med, 190 (12), pp. 1793-1800. | Show Abstract | Read more

By stimulating blood lymphocytes from a renal cell carcinoma patient in vitro with the autologous tumor cells, we obtained cytolytic T lymphocyte (CTL) clones that killed several autologous and allogeneic histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA)-B7 renal carcinoma cell lines. We identified the target antigen of these CTLs by screening COS cells transfected with the HLA-B7 cDNA and with a cDNA library prepared with RNA from the tumor cells. The antigenic peptide recognized by the CTLs has the sequence LPRWPPPQL and is encoded by a new gene, which we named RU2. This gene is transcribed in both directions. The antigenic peptide is not encoded by the sense transcript, RU2S, which is expressed ubiquitously. It is encoded by an antisense transcript, RU2AS, which starts from a cryptic promoter located on the reverse strand of the first intron and ends up on the reverse strand of the RU2S promoter, which contains a polyadenylation signal. This mechanism of antigen expression is unprecedented and further illustrates the notion that many peptides recognized by T cells cannot be predicted from the primary structure of the major product of the encoding gene. Antisense transcript RU2AS is expressed in a high proportion of tumors of various histological types. It is absent in most normal tissues, but is expressed in testis and kidney, and, at lower levels, in urinary bladder and liver. Short-term cultures of normal epithelial cells from the renal proximal tubule expressed significant levels of RU2AS message and were recognized by the CTLs. Therefore, this antigen is not tumor specific, but corresponds to a self-antigen with restricted tissue distribution.

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Morel S, Ooms A, Van Pel A, Wölfel T, Brichard VG, Van Der Bruggen P, Van Den Eynde BJ, Degiovanni G. 1999. A tyrosinase peptide presented by HLA-B35 is recognized on a human melanoma by autologous cytotoxic T lymphocytes International Journal of Cancer, 83 (6), pp. 755-759. | Show Abstract | Read more

We previously described different cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clones isolated from the blood lymphocytes of a melanoma patient after in vitro stimulation with autologous tumor cells. These CTL clones recognized at least 2 distinct antigens on the melanoma cells. Here, we show that one of them consists of a peptide derived from tyrosinase and presented by HLA-B35. The peptide is 9 amino acids long and has the sequence LPSSADVEF. It can be presented by the 2 major B35 allelic subtypes, B*3501 and B*3503. As HLA- B35 is one of the most frequent HLA-B specificities, being present in about 20% of Caucasian individuals, it may be a useful target for peptide-based immunotherapy of melanoma.

Morel S, Ooms A, Van Pel A, Wölfel T, Brichard VG, van der Bruggen P, Van den Eynde BJ, Degiovanni G. 1999. A tyrosinase peptide presented by HLA-B35 is recognized on a human melanoma by autologous cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Int J Cancer, 83 (6), pp. 755-759. | Show Abstract | Read more

We previously described different cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clones isolated from the blood lymphocytes of a melanoma patient after in vitro stimulation with autologous tumor cells. These CTL clones recognized at least 2 distinct antigens on the melanoma cells. Here, we show that one of them consists of a peptide derived from tyrosinase and presented by HLA-B35. The peptide is 9 amino acids long and has the sequence LPSSADVEF. It can be presented by the 2 major B35 allelic subtypes, B*3501 and B*3503. As HLA-B35 is one of the most frequent HLA-B specificities, being present in about 20% of Caucasian individuals, it may be a useful target for peptide-based immunotherapy of melanoma.

De Backer O, Arden KC, Boretti M, Vantomme V, De Smet C, Czekay S, Viars CS, De Plaen E, Brasseur F, Chomez P et al. 1999. Characterization of the GAGE genes that are expressed in various human cancers and in normal testis. Cancer Res, 59 (13), pp. 3157-3165. | Show Abstract

The GAGE-1 gene was identified previously as a gene that codes for an antigenic peptide, YRPRPRRY, which was presented on a human melanoma by HLA-Cw6 molecules and recognized by a clone of CTLs derived from the patient bearing the tumor. By screening a cDNA library from this melanoma, we identified five additional, closely related genes named GAGE-2-6. We report here that further screening of this library led to the identification of two more genes, GAGE-7B and -8. GAGE-1, -2, and -8 code for peptide YRPRPRRY. Using another antitumor CTL clone isolated from the same melanoma patient, we identified antigenic peptide, YYWPRPRRY, which is encoded by GAGE-3, -4, -5, -6, and -7B and which is presented by HLA-A29 molecules. Genomic cloning of GAGE-7B showed that it is composed of five exons. Sequence alignment showed that an additional exon, which is present only in the mRNA of GAGE-1, has been disrupted in gene GAGE-7B by the insertion of a long interspersed repeated element retroposon. These GAGE genes are located in the p11.2-p11.4 region of chromosome X. They are not expressed in normal tissues, except in testis, but a large proportion of tumors of various histological origins express at least one of these genes. Treatment of normal and tumor cultured cells with a demethylating agent, azadeoxycytidine, resulted in the transcriptional activation of GAGE genes, suggesting that their expression in tumors results from a demethylation process.

Ayyoub M, Mazarguil H, Monsarrat B, Van den Eynde B, Gairin JE. 1999. A structure-based approach to designing non-natural peptides that can activate anti-melanoma cytotoxic T cells. J Biol Chem, 274 (15), pp. 10227-10234. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tumor antigens presented by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules and recognized by CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) may generate an efficient antitumor immune response after appropriate immunization. Antigenic peptides can be used in vivo to induce antitumor or antiviral immunity. The efficiency of naked peptides may be greatly limited by their degradation in the biological fluids. We present a rational, structure-based approach to design structurally modified, peptidase-resistant and biologically active analogues of human tumor antigen MAGE-1.A1. This approach is based on our understanding of the peptide interaction with the MHC and the T cell receptor and its precise degradation pathway. Knowledge of these mechanisms led to the design of a non-natural, minimally modified analogue of MAGE-1.A1, [Aib2, NMe-Ser8]MAGE-1.A1, which was highly peptidase-resistant and bound to MHC and activated MAGE-1.A1-specific anti-melanoma CTLs. Thus, we showed that it is possible to structurally modify peptide epitopes to obtain analogues that are still specifically recognized by CTLs. Such analogues may represent interesting leads for antitumor synthetic vaccines.

Bilsborough J, Van Pel A, Uyttenhove C, Boon T, Van den Eynde BJ. 1999. Identification of a second major tumor-specific antigen recognized by CTLs on mouse mastocytoma P815. J Immunol, 162 (6), pp. 3534-3540. | Show Abstract

Murine mastocytoma P815 induces CTL responses against at least four distinct Ags (AB, C, D, and E). Recent studies have shown that the main component of the CTL response against the P815 tumor is targeted against Ags P815AB and P815E. The gene P1A has been well characterized. It encodes the P815AB Ag in the form of a nonameric peptide containing two epitopes, P815A and P815B, which are recognized by different CTLs. Here, we report the identification of the P815E Ag. Using a cDNA library derived from tumor P815, we identified the gene coding for P815E. We also characterized the antigenic peptide that anti-P815E CTLs recognize on the MHC class I molecule H-2Kd. The P815E Ag results from a mutation within an ubiquitously expressed gene encoding methionine sulfoxide reductase, an enzyme that is believed to be important in the protection of proteins against the by-products of aerobic metabolism. Surprisingly, immunizing mice i.p. with syngeneic tumor cells (L1210) that were constructed to express B7-1 and P815E did not induce resistance against live P815, even though a strong anti-P815E CTL response was observed with splenocytes from immunized animals.

Brändle D, Bilsborough J, Rülicke T, Uyttenhove C, Boon T, Van den Eynde BJ. 1998. The shared tumor-specific antigen encoded by mouse gene P1A is a target not only for cytolytic T lymphocytes but also for tumor rejection. Eur J Immunol, 28 (12), pp. 4010-4019. | Show Abstract | Read more

A number of human tumor antigens have been characterized recently using cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) as screening tools. Some of them are encoded by MAGE-type genes, which are silent in normal tissues except in male germ cells, but are activated in a variety of tumors. These tumor-specific shared antigens appear to be promising targets for cancer immunotherapy. However, the choice of these antigens as targets has been questioned because of the lack of direct evidence that in vivo responses against such antigens can lead to tumor rejection. The antigen encoded by the mouse gene P1A represents the only available animal model system for MAGE-type tumor antigens. We show here that mice immunized by injection of L1210 leukemia cells expressing P1A and B7-1 (L1210.P1A.B7-1) are efficiently protected against a challenge with a lethal dose of mastocytoma P815 tumor cells, which express P1A. Mice immunized with L1210 cells expressing B7-1 but not P1A were not protected. Furthermore, we observed that P1A-transgenic mice, which are tolerant to P1A, were not protected after immunization with L1210.P1A.B7-1. These results demonstrate that the immune response to P1A is the major component of the tumor rejection response observed in normal mice, and support the use of tumor-specific shared antigens as targets for the immunotherapy of human cancer.

Guéguen M, Patard JJ, Gaugler B, Brasseur F, Renauld JC, Van Cangh PJ, Boon T, Van den Eynde BJ. 1998. An antigen recognized by autologous CTLs on a human bladder carcinoma. J Immunol, 160 (12), pp. 6188-6194. | Show Abstract

By stimulating blood lymphocytes with autologous bladder carcinoma cells that had been transfected with B7-1, we obtained a panel of CTL clones which lyse specifically the bladder tumor cells in an MHC class I-restricted fashion. Based on inhibition with anti-HLA Abs and the recognition of allogeneic tumor cells, we could distribute our clones in three groups that recognized three distinct Ags. We characterized one of these Ags by screening a cDNA library prepared with the RNA from this bladder tumor line. This new tumor Ag is a peptide presented by HLA-B4403 molecules. It is produced by a point mutation in a gene that is recorded in databases under the name KIAA0205, is ubiquitously expressed, and whose function is unknown. We also found this mutation in the tumor sample that was originally resected from this patient, but the mutation was not found in the 100 or more independent tumors of various histologic types that were tested. This report is the first to describe the isolation of CTL clones directed against human bladder cancer and the molecular characterization of a bladder tumor Ag.

Van den Eynde BJ, van der Bruggen P. 1997. T cell defined tumor antigens. Curr Opin Immunol, 9 (5), pp. 684-693. | Show Abstract | Read more

T cell defined antigens have now been characterized in a large variety of tumor types, in both mice and humans. An increasing number of these antigens appear to result from tumor-specific mutations, and some of these mutations may be implicated in oncogenesis. The priority is now to demonstrate that immunization against some of these antigens is clinically valuable for antitumor therapy, and the first results of clinical pilot studies are now emerging.

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Van Den Eynde BJ, Boon T. 1997. Tumor antigens recognized by T lymphocytes International Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Research, 27 (2), pp. 81-86. | Show Abstract | Read more

In the last five years, knowledge of human tumor antigens recognized by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) has increased considerably. So far, genetic and biochemical approaches have led to the molecular identification of three classes of antigens. Most of these antigens consist of peptides that are presented to T cells by HLA molecules. The first class comprises antigens encoded by genes such as MAGE, BAGE, and GAGE, which are expressed in various tumors of different histological origins, but not in normal tissues other than testis. The second class represents differentiation antigens encoded by genes that are only expressed in melanoma and normal melanocytes like tyrosinase, Melan-A/MART-1, gp100 and gp75. The third class includes antigens produced by unique point mutations in genes that are ubiquitously expressed. In most cases, the antigenic peptide is encoded by the mutated region of the gene. A number of these antigens provide promising targets for new protocols of specific cancer immunotherapy.

Boon T, Coulie PG, Van den Eynde B. 1997. Tumor antigens recognized by T cells. Immunol Today, 18 (6), pp. 267-268. | Show Abstract | Read more

A large number of human tumor-specific antigens have been identified. Here, Thierry Boon and colleagues explain that the priority now is to demonstrate that immunization against them is clinically valuable.

Coulie PG, Van den Eynde BJ, van der Bruggen P, Van Pel A, Boon T. 1997. Antigens recognized by T-lymphocytes on human tumours. Biochem Soc Trans, 25 (2), pp. 544-548. | Read more

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Uyttenhove C, Godfraind C, Lethé B, Amar-Costesec A, Renauld JC, Gajewski TF, Duffour MT, Warnier G, Boon T, Van Den Eynde BJ. 1997. The expression of mouse gene P1A in testis does not prevent safe induction of cytolytic T cells against a P1A-encoded tumor antigen International Journal of Cancer, 70 (3), pp. 349-356. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tumor antigen P815AB is recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) mouse mastocytoma P815. This antigen is encoded by P1A, a gene activated in several tumors but silent in normal tissues except for testis and placenta. Notwithstanding the expression of P1A in testis, we found that male mice mounted P815AB-specific CTL responses as efficiently as females. The responding males remained fertile and no autoimmune lesions were observed in their testes. By immunohistochemistry with a rabbit antiserum directed against the P1A protein, we identified spermatogonia as the testicular cells expressing P1A. The absence of MHC class-I molecules on spermatogonia could be one of the mechanisms of protection against testicular autoimmunity, as the antigenic peptide should not be displayed at the cell surface. Human genes MAGE, BAGE and GAGE, which also code for tumor antigens recognized by autologous CTL, are not expressed in normal tissues other than testis. The results obtained in mice with antigen P815AB suggest that immunization of human males with such antigens will not generate autoimmune side-effects. Although P1A is strongly expressed in placenta, we also found that gestation did not prevent generation of CTL responses against antigen P815AB, and that such CTL responses did not affect gestation outcome. We identified labyrinthine trophoblasts as the placental cells expressing P1A. Again, the absence of MHC class-I molecules on these cells provides a plausible explanation for placental protection, although other mechanisms may also play a role.

Uyttenhove C, Godfraind C, Lethé B, Amar-Costesec A, Renauld JC, Gajewski TF, Duffour MT, Warnier G, Boon T, Van den Eynde BJ. 1997. The expression of mouse gene P1A in testis does not prevent safe induction of cytolytic T cells against a P1A-encoded tumor antigen. Int J Cancer, 70 (3), pp. 349-356. | Show Abstract

Tumor antigen P815AB is recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) on mouse mastocytoma P815. This antigen is encoded by P1A, a gene activated in several tumors but silent in normal tissues except for testis and placenta. Notwithstanding the expression of P1A in testis, we found that male mice mounted P815AB-specific CTL responses as efficiently as females. The responding males remained fertile and no autoimmune lesions were observed in their testes. By immunohistochemistry with a rabbit antiserum directed against the P1A protein, we identified spermatogonia as the testicular cells expressing P1A. The absence of MHC class-I molecules on spermatogonia could be one of the mechanisms of protection against testicular autoimmunity, as the antigenic peptide should not be displayed at the cell surface. Human genes MAGE, BAGE and GAGE, which also code for tumor antigens recognized by autologous CTL, are not expressed in normal tissues other than testis. The results obtained in mice with antigen P815AB suggest that immunization of human males with such antigens will not generate autoimmune side-effects. Although P1A is strongly expressed in placenta, we also found that gestation did not prevent generation of CTL responses against antigen P815AB, and that such CTL responses did not affect gestation outcome. We identified labyrinthine trophoblasts as the placental cells expressing P1A. Again, the absence of MHC class-I molecules on these cells provides a plausible explanation for placental protection, although other mechanisms may also play a role.

Van den Eynde BJ, Boon T. 1997. Tumor antigens recognized by T lymphocytes. Int J Clin Lab Res, 27 (2), pp. 81-86. | Show Abstract | Read more

In the last five years, knowledge of human tumor antigens recognized by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) has increased considerably. So far, genetic and biochemical approaches have led to the molecular identification of three classes of antigens. Most of these antigens consist of peptides that are presented to T cells by HLA molecules. The first class comprises antigens encoded by genes such as MAGE, BAGE, and GAGE, which are expressed in various tumors of different histological origins, but not in normal tissues other than testis. The second class represents differentiation antigens encoded by genes that are only expressed in melanoma and normal melanocytes like tyrosinase, Melan-A/MART-1, gp100 and gp75. The third class includes antigens produced by unique point mutations in genes that are ubiquitously expressed. In most cases, the antigenic peptide is encoded by the mutated region of the gene. A number of these antigens provide promising targets for new protocols of specific cancer immunotherapy.

Cited:

44

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Brouwenstijn N, Gaugler B, Krüse KM, Van der Spek CW, Mulder A, Osanto S, Van den Eynde BJ, Schrier PI. 1996. Renal-cell carcinoma-specific lysis by cytotoxic T-lymphocyte clones isolated from peripheral blood lymphocytes and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes International Journal of Cancer, 68 (2), pp. 177-182. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melanoma and renal-cell carcinoma (RCC) are generally considered to be relatively immunogenic tumor types in humans. In the case of melanoma, many major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I-restricted tumor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) have been isolated from either tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) or autologous peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL). In contrast, such CTL have only incidentally been described in the case of RCC. It has often been reported that TIL lines isolated from RCC display non-MHC-restricted and non-specific activity. Here, we report the isolation and characterization of tumor-specific CTL from PBL of one RCC patient and from TIL of another RCC patient. CTL clones 263/17 and 263/45, isolated from the PBL of patient LE-9211, were restricted by HLA-B7. CTL clone 5E, isolated from the TIL of patient LE-8915, was restricted by HLA-B37. The autologous RCC cell lines were efficiently lysed by the CTL clones, whereas normal epithelial cells of the proximal tubuli matched for the restriction element and K562 were not. From a panel of allogeneic RCC cell lines, CTL 5E recognized MZ-1940-RCC. Reactivity to allogeneic RCC sharing HLA-B7 was also observed with CTL 263/17 and 263/45, both of which could lyse the HLA-B7-positive cell line MZ-1851-RCC. Our data provide evidence that common tumor antigens are recognized by CTL on RCC.

Brouwenstijn N, Gaugler B, Krüse KM, van der Spek CW, Mulder A, Osanto S, van den Eynde BJ, Schrier PI. 1996. Renal-cell carcinoma-specific lysis by cytotoxic T-lymphocyte clones isolated from peripheral blood lymphocytes and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Int J Cancer, 68 (2), pp. 177-182. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melanoma and renal-cell carcinoma (RCC) are generally considered to be relatively immunogenic tumor types in humans. In the case of melanoma, many major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I-restricted tumor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) have been isolated from either tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) or autologous peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL). In contrast, such CTL have only incidentally been described in the case of RCC. It has often been reported that TIL lines isolated from RCC display non-MHC-restricted and non-specific activity. Here, we report the isolation and characterization of tumor-specific CTL from PBL of one RCC patient and from TIL of another RCC patient. CTL clones 263/17 and 263/45, isolated from the PBL of patient LE-9211, were restricted by HLA-B7. CTL clone 5E, isolated from the TIL of patient LE-8915, was restricted by HLA-B37. The autologous RCC cell lines were efficiently lysed by the CTL clones, whereas normal epithelial cells of the proximal tubuli matched for the restriction element and K562 were not. From a panel of allogeneic RCC cell lines, CTL 5E recognized MZ-1940-RCC. Reactivity to allogeneic RCC sharing HLA-B7 was also observed with CTL 263/17 and 263/45, both of which could lyse the HLA-B7-positive cell line MZ-1851-RCC. Our data provide evidence that common tumor antigens are recognized by CTL on RCC.

Brändle D, Brasseur F, Weynants P, Boon T, Van den Eynde B. 1996. A mutated HLA-A2 molecule recognized by autologous cytotoxic T lymphocytes on a human renal cell carcinoma. J Exp Med, 183 (6), pp. 2501-2508. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many human tumor cells have been shown to express antigens that are recognized by autologous cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) and the molecular nature of a number of melanoma antigens has been defined recently. Here we describe the characterization of an antigen recognized on a renal cell carcinoma by autologous CTL clones. This antigen is encoded by the HLA-A2 gene present in the tumor cells. The sequence of this gene differs from the HLA-A2 sequence found in autologous peripheral blood lymphocytes by a point mutation that results in an arginine to isoleucine exchange at residue 170, which is located on the alpha-helix of the alpha 2 domain. Transfection experiments with the normal and mutated HLA-A2 cDNA demonstrated that this amino acid replacement was responsible for the recognition of the HLA-A2 molecule expressed on the tumor cells. The mutant HLA-A2 gene was also detected in the original tumor tissue from the patient, excluding the possibility that the mutation had appeared in vitro. Thus, HLA class I molecules carrying a tumor-specific mutation can be involved in the recognition of tumor cells by autologous CTL.

Gaugler B, Brouwenstijn N, Vantomme V, Szikora JP, Van der Spek CW, Patard JJ, Boon T, Schrier P, Van den Eynde BJ. 1996. A new gene coding for an antigen recognized by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes on a human renal carcinoma. Immunogenetics, 44 (5), pp. 323-330. | Show Abstract | Read more

Previous reports have described antigens that are recognized on human melanoma cells by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL). The genes coding for a number of these antigens have been identified. Here we report the cloning of a gene that codes for an antigen recognized by autologous CTL on a human renal carcinoma cell line. This antigen is presented by HLA-B7 and is encoded by a new gene that we have named RAGE1. No expression of RAGE1 was found in normal tissues other than retina. RAGE1 expression was found in only one of 57 renal cell carcinoma samples, and also in some sarcomas, infiltrating bladder carcinomas, and melanomas. This represents the first identification of an antigen recognized by autologous CTL on a renal tumor.

Van den Eynde B, Brichard VG. 1995. New tumor antigens recognized by T cells. Curr Opin Immunol, 7 (5), pp. 674-681. | Show Abstract | Read more

A series of tumor cell antigens that are recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes has been characterized this year. Besides the antigens derived from proteins specifically expressed in tumors, many melanoma antigens derive from melanocytic differentiation proteins. In addition, antigens unique to individual tumors result from mutations in ubiquitously expressed genes.

Van den Eynde B, Peeters O, De Backer O, Gaugler B, Lucas S, Boon T. 1995. A new family of genes coding for an antigen recognized by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes on a human melanoma. J Exp Med, 182 (3), pp. 689-698. | Show Abstract | Read more

Human melanoma MZ2-MEL expresses several distinct antigens that are recognized by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL). Some of these antigens are encoded by genes MAGE-1, MAGE-3, and BAGE, which are expressed in a large fraction of tumors of various histological types but are silent in normal adult tissues with the exception of testis. We report here the identification of the gene coding for MZ2-F, another antigen recognized by autologous CTL on MZ2-MEL cells. This gene, which was named GAGE-1, is not related to any presently known gene. It belongs to a family of genes that are expressed in a variety of tumors but not in normal tissues, except for the testis. Antigenic peptide YRPRPRRY, which is encoded by GAGE-1, is recognized by anti-MZ2-F CTL on class I molecule HLA-Cw6. The two genes of the GAGE family that code for this peptide, namely GAGE-1 and GAGE-2, are expressed in a significant proportion of melanomas (24%), sarcomas (25%), non-small cell lung cancers (19%), head and neck tumors (19%), and bladder tumors (12%). About 50% of melanoma patients carry on their tumor at least one of the presently defined antigens encoded by the MAGE, BAGE, and GAGE genes.

Van den Eynde B, Gaugler B, van der Bruggen P, Coulie P, Brichard V, Boon T. 1995. Human tumour antigens recognized by T-cells: perspectives for new cancer vaccines. Biochem Soc Trans, 23 (3), pp. 681-686. | Read more

Van Pel A, van der Bruggen P, Coulie PG, Brichard VG, Lethé B, van den Eynde B, Uyttenhove C, Renauld JC, Boon T. 1995. Genes coding for tumor antigens recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes. Immunol Rev, 145 (1), pp. 229-250. | Read more

Boon T, Brichard VG, Van den Eynde B. 1995. Tumor rejection antigens and specific immunotherapy of cancer Medecine/Sciences, 11 (9), pp. 1279-1287. | Show Abstract

Experiments with mouse systems have shown that antigens recognized on tumors by cytolytic T lymphocytes can be the targets of immune responses that destroy the tumor cells without exerting harmful effects on normal tissues. In recent years, a number of genes that code for these antigens have been identified. The first gene studied, MAGE-1, coded for an antigen recognized by an autologous cytolytic T-cell clone. It belongs to a family comprising at least twelve members, but the function of the proteins encoded remains unknown. These genes have no expression in normal tissues (but testis and placenta); the tumoral peptides are presented to the immune system by specific HLA molecules. Some other tumoral antigens are not restricted to tumors but appear on normal melanocytes (tyrosinase, gp100...). Knowing these genes opens new possibilities in specific cancer immunotherapy.

Van den Eynde B, Mazarguil H, Lethé B, Laval F, Gairin JE. 1994. Localization of two cytotoxic T lymphocyte epitopes and three anchoring residues on a single nonameric peptide that binds to H-2Ld and is recognized by cytotoxic T lymphocytes against mouse tumor P815. Eur J Immunol, 24 (11), pp. 2740-2745. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mouse mastocytoma P815 expresses tumor antigens P815A and P815B encoded by a single gene called P1A and carried by a single peptide named P1A 35-43 (NH2-Leu-Pro-Tyr-Leu-Gly-Trp-Leu-Val-Phe-COOH). P1A 35-43 is presented to anti-P815A and anti-P815B cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) H-2Ld molecules. In order to determine the individual role played by each amino acid residue of P1A 35-43 in binding to H-2Ld and in recognition by anti-A and anti-B T cell receptors (TcR), a series of P1A35-43 peptides substituted by alanine at single positions was synthesized and tested for binding to H-2Ld and for CTL recognition. Binding to H-2Ld was estimated by measuring the ability of the peptide to up-regulate cell surface expression of H-2Ld. We found that three residues were important for interaction of P1A 35-43 with H-2Ld. Two of them, Pro at position 2 and Phe at position 9 were consistent with the described H-2Ld binding motif. A third residue, Trp at position 6, was also required for effective MHC binding of the tumor antigen. CTL sensitization assays showed that alanine substitution at position 7 (Leu) or at position 8 (Val) dramatically affected peptide recognition by anti-A CTL while positions 3 (Tyr) and 4 (Leu) were critical for recognition by anti-B CTL. We conclude that Pro2, Trp6 and Phe9 constitute the anchor residues of P1A 35-43 to H-2Ld, whereas the dipeptidyl sequences Tyr3-Leu4 and Leu7-Val8 form the core epitopes recognized by the TcR of anti-P815B and anti-P815A CTL, respectively.

Gaugler B, Van den Eynde B, van der Bruggen P, Romero P, Gaforio JJ, De Plaen E, Lethé B, Brasseur F, Boon T. 1994. Human gene MAGE-3 codes for an antigen recognized on a melanoma by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes. J Exp Med, 179 (3), pp. 921-930. | Show Abstract | Read more

Human melanoma cell line MZ2-MEL expresses several antigens recognized by autologous cytolytic T lymphocyte (CTL) clones. We reported previously the identification of a gene, named MAGE-1, that codes for one of these antigens named MZ2-E. We show here that antigen MZ2-D, which is present on the same tumor, is encoded by another member of the MAGE gene family named MAGE-3. Like MAGE-1, MAGE-3 is composed of three exons and the large open reading frame is entirely located in the third exon. Its sequence shows 73% identity with MAGE-1. Like MZ2-E, antigen MZ2-D is presented by HLA-A1. The antigenic peptide of MZ2-D is a nonapeptide that is encoded by the sequence of MAGE-3 that is homologous to the MAGE-1 sequence coding for the MZ2-E peptide. Competition experiments using single Ala-substituted peptides indicated that amino acid residues Asp in position 3 and Tyr in position 9 were essential for binding of the MAGE-1 peptide to HLA-A1. Gene MAGE-3 is expressed in many tumors of several types, such as melanoma, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, lung carcinoma and breast carcinoma, but not in normal tissues except for testes. It is expressed in a larger proportion of melanoma samples than MAGE-1. MAGE-3 encoded antigens may therefore have a wide applicability for specific immunotherapy of melanoma patients.

Boon T, Van den Eynde B, Hirsch H, Moroni C, De Plaen E, van der Bruggen P, De Smet C, Lurquin C, Szikora JP, De Backer O. 1994. Genes coding for tumor-specific rejection antigens. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol, 59 pp. 617-622. | Read more

Amar-Costesec A, Godelaine D, Van den Eynde B, Beaufay H. 1994. Identification and characterization of the tumor-specific P1A gene product. Biol Cell, 81 (3), pp. 195-203. | Show Abstract | Read more

In murine mastocytoma P815, gene P1A directs the expression of antigens P815A and B which are the target of a T cell-mediated rejection response in syngeneic animals. This gene is expressed at a high level in various tumors, but is silent in normal tissues except testis and placenta; its activation is thus possibly related to malignant transformation. An anti-synthetic peptide rabbit antiserum reacted by immunoblotting with a cellular protein migrating near 40 kDa on SDS-PAGE. The immunoreactive protein was detected only in lysates from cells which express antigen P815A: P1.HTR mastocytoma cells and, after transfection with cosmids carrying the P1A gene, the antigen-loss variant P0.HTR cells and DAP-3 H-2Ld fibroblasts. The identity of this protein as the P1A gene product was confirmed by cell-free transcription-translation of the P1A cDNA, the product of which also migrated near 40 kDa in SDS-PAGE and was captured by protein A-Sepharose in the presence of the antiserum. Subcellular fractionation by differential and isopycnic centrifugation indicated that the P1A protein is associated with cytoplasmic membranes demonstrating a broad distribution with respect to size and density. Immunofluorescence microscopy also revealed a cytoplasmic signal, particularly intense in small vesicles, which coincides with that produced by an anti-mouse type I collagen guinea pig antiserum except near the cell periphery where the P1A signal is weaker. We conclude that the P1A protein is bound to membranes of the secretory pathway, at a concentration which goes increasing from the endoplasmic reticulum to secretion vesicles.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Boon T, Cerottini JC, Van den Eynde B, van der Bruggen P, Van Pel A. 1994. Tumor antigens recognized by T lymphocytes. Annu Rev Immunol, 12 (1), pp. 337-365. | Show Abstract | Read more

Transplantation experiments have demonstrated that most mouse tumors express antigens that can constitute targets for rejection responses mediated by syngeneic T lymphocytes. For human tumors, autologous cultures mixing tumor cells and blood lymphocytes or tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes have produced CD8+ and CD4+ cytolytic T cell (CTL) clones that recognize tumor cells specifically. Attempts to identify the target antigens by biochemical fractionation of tumor cells up to now have failed, with the important exception of the identification of underglycosylated mucins present on breast and pancreatic carcinomas. Gene transfection approaches have proved more successful. A gene family named MAGE codes for antigens recognized by autologous CTL on a melanoma tumor. These genes are not expressed in normal tissues except for testis. They are expressed in many tumors of several histological types. Differentiation antigens coded by genes such as tyrosinase are also recognized on human melanoma by autologous CTL. The identification of human tumor rejection antigens opens new possibilities for systematic approaches to the specific immune therapy of cancer.

van der Bruggen P, Van den Eynde B. 1992. Molecular definition of tumor antigens recognized by T lymphocytes. Curr Opin Immunol, 4 (5), pp. 608-612. | Show Abstract | Read more

Several tumor antigens recognized by T cells have now been identified at the molecular level. Various mechanisms can account for their expression: activation of normally silent genes; point mutations; chromosome translocations; and post-translational modifications of proteins. This led to the notion that potential tumor-rejection antigens can be shared by a significant proportion of human tumors. This may have important implications in cancer immunotherapy, especially since tumors expressing a defined antigen can be identified on the basis of the expression of the relevant gene.

Lethé B, van den Eynde B, van Pel A, Corradin G, Boon T. 1992. Mouse tumor rejection antigens P815A and P815B: two epitopes carried by a single peptide. Eur J Immunol, 22 (9), pp. 2283-2288. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mouse mastocytoma P815 expresses several distinct tumor rejection antigens recognized by syngeneic cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL). Two of these tumor rejection antigens, P815A and P815B, are encoded by gene P1A, the sequence of which was reported previously. Tumor cell variants having lost one or both of these antigens were isolated by in vitro selection with CTL and also by collecting tumor cells that progressed in vivo after escaping a nearly complete immune rejection process. The structure of gene P1A in these antigen-loss variants was examined. Several A-B- variants presented a complete or partial deletion of the gene. One variant that had lost only antigen A displayed a point mutation in the first exon. Peptides were synthesized that corresponded to the normal sequence located in the region of this point mutation. They sensitized target cells to both anti-A and anti-B CTL. The homologous peptide encoded by the mutated gene of the P815 A-B+ variant sensitized cells only to anti-B CTL. We conclude that anti-A and anti-B CTL recognize on the same peptide two distinct epitopes that are affected differently by the mutation.

Boon T, De Plaen E, Lurquin C, Van den Eynde B, van der Bruggen P, Traversari C, Amar-Costesec A, Van Pel A. 1992. Identification of tumour rejection antigens recognized by T lymphocytes. Cancer Surv, 13 pp. 23-37. | Show Abstract

On the basis of the results reviewed here, there are two major mechanisms whereby tumour rejection antigens may arise. The first mechanism is mutational. Point mutations occurring in a large variety of genes may produce new antigenic peptides, either by providing them with the ability to bind to MHC class I molecules or by providing them with a new epitope (Fig. 2). The second mechanism is the activation of a gene that is silent in normal tissues and for which no strong natural tolerance has been established. Plausible candidates for the mutational mechanism are the "tumour specific transplantation antigens" observed on methylcholanthrene induced tumours and tumours induced by ultraviolet light. The diversity of these antigens appears to be very large, like that of the tum- antigens. Moreover, these tumours have been obtained with high doses of carcinogens, which are proven mutagens. On the other hand, a P815 tumour rejection antigen appears to arise through the activation of a silent gene, and it may turn out that this is the rule for most tumour rejection antigens. It is our hope that other genes coding for mouse and human tumour rejection antigens will soon be identified, so that it will become clear whether the activational mechanism is the rule or the exception. In our view, this is a crucial issue. Insofar as tumour rejection antigens result from mutations, they may be highly specific for every individual tumour. The tumour specific nature of these antigens would then be easily ascertained. However, active immunization of cancer patients would require that a tumour cell line be obtained from each patient, a most unpractical prospect. If, on the other hand, production of tumour rejection antigens results from the activation of a normal gene, then there is a good probability that the same gene may be activated in many different tumours, being perhaps preferentially shared by tumours of the same histological type. This would probably not result in the expression of the same antigen in all these tumours, because the patients would differ in their presenting molecules, which are determined by their HLA haplotype. However, a subset of the tumours expressing the same "tumour rejection" gene should share the same class I restricting element, so that all of these patients could be immunized with a cell that would express the gene and carry the appropriate HLA molecule.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Traversari C, van der Bruggen P, Van den Eynde B, Hainaut P, Lemoine C, Ohta N, Old L, Boon T. 1992. Transfection and expression of a gene coding for a human melanoma antigen recognized by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes. Immunogenetics, 35 (3), pp. 145-152. | Show Abstract | Read more

Human melanoma line MZ2-MEL expresses several antigens recognized by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL). As a first step towards the cloning of the gene coding for one of these antigens, we tried to obtain transfectants expressing the antigen. The DNA recipient cell was a variant of MZ2-MEL which had been selected with a CTL clone for the loss of antigen E. It was cotransfected with genomic DNA of the original melanoma line and with selective plasmid pSVtkneo beta. Geneticin-resistant transfectants were obtained at a frequency of 2 x 10(-4). These transfectants were then screened for their ability to stimulate the production of tumor necrosis factor by the anti-E CTL clone. One transfectant expressing antigen E was identified among 70,000 drug-resistant transfectants. Its sensitivity to lysis by the anti-E CTL was equal to that of the original melanoma cell line. When this transfectant was submitted to immunoselection with the anti-E CTL clone, the resulting antigen-loss variants were found to have lost several of the transfected pSVtkneo beta sequences. This indicated that the gene coding for the antigen had been integrated in the vicinity of pSVtkneo beta sequences, as expected for cotransfected DNA.

Van Pel A, Warnier G, Van den Eynde B, Lethé B, Lurquin C, Boon T. 1991. Tum- antigens, TSTA, and T cell immune surveillance. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 636 (1 Antigen and C), pp. 43-51. | Read more

van der Bruggen P, Traversari C, Chomez P, Lurquin C, De Plaen E, Van den Eynde B, Knuth A, Boon T. 1991. A gene encoding an antigen recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes on a human melanoma. Science, 254 (5038), pp. 1643-1647. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many human melanoma tumors express antigens that are recognized in vitro by cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs) derived from the tumor-bearing patient. A gene was identified that directed the expression of antigen MZ2-E on a human melanoma cell line. This gene shows no similarity to known sequences and belongs to a family of at least three genes. It is expressed by the original melanoma cells, other melanoma cell lines, and by some tumor cells of other histological types. No expression was observed in a panel of normal tissues. Antigen MZ2-E appears to be presented by HLA-A1; anti-MZ2-E CTLs of the original patient recognized two melanoma cell lines of other HLA-A1 patients that expressed the gene. Thus, precisely targeted immunotherapy directed against antigen MZ2-E could be provided to individuals identified by HLA typing and analysis of the RNA of a small tumor sample.

Van den Eynde B, Lethé B, Van Pel A, De Plaen E, Boon T. 1991. The gene coding for a major tumor rejection antigen of tumor P815 is identical to the normal gene of syngeneic DBA/2 mice. J Exp Med, 173 (6), pp. 1373-1384. | Show Abstract | Read more

We showed previously that mouse mastocytoma P815 expresses several distinct antigens that are recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) of syngeneic DBA/2 mice. Antigens P815A and P815B are usually lost jointly and are targets for immune rejection responses in vivo. We used a cosmid library and a CTL stimulation assay to obtain transfectants expressing tumor rejection antigen P815A. From these transfectants we retrieved gene P1A which transferred the expression of both P815A and B. This gene is unrelated to three previously isolated genes coding for tum-antigens. It encodes a putative protein of 224 amino acids which contains two highly acidic domains showing homology with similar regions of nuclear proteins. The P1A gene expressed by tumor P815 is completely identical to the gene present in normal DBA/2 cells. Expression of the gene was tested by Northern blots. Cells from liver, spleen, and a number of mast cell lines were negative, but mast cell line L138.8A produced a high level of P1A message and was lysed by CTL directed against antigens P815A and B. We conclude that major tumor rejection antigens of P815 are encoded by a gene showing little or no expression in most normal cells of adult mice.

VAN PEL A, WARNIER G, VAN DEN EYNDE B, LETHÉ B, LURQUIN C, BOON T. 1991. Tum<sup>−</sup>Antigens, TSTA, and T Cell Immune Surveillance Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 636 (1), pp. 43-51. | Read more

Van den Eynde B, Hainaut P, Hérin M, Knuth A, Lemoine C, Weynants P, van der Bruggen P, Fauchet R, Boon T. 1989. Presence on a human melanoma of multiple antigens recognized by autologous CTL. Int J Cancer, 44 (4), pp. 634-640. | Show Abstract | Read more

We derived from blood lymphocytes of a melanoma patient a large number of cytolytic T-cell clones directed against a cell line of the autologous tumor. Three distinct groups of antigens were recognized by these CTL on the autologous melanoma cells: group A consisted of stable antigens present on all sublines, whereas antigens B and C appeared unstable and were expressed by distinct sublines. In vitro immunoselections with various anti-A CTL clones were applied to the melanoma cells and variants resistant to 3 different CTL clones were obtained. These variants remained sensitive to other anti-A CTL clones, indicating that group A comprises at least 4 different antigens (D, E, F and A'). From a total of 76 CTL clones obtained from lymphocytes collected from the patient at various times, we found that 45 were anti-B, 17 were anti-C, 2 were anti-D, 9 were anti-E, 2 were anti-F and I was anti-A'. It is therefore likely that the 6 antigens identified by these CTL clones represent all or nearly all the transplantation antigens recognized by autologous CTL on this human melanoma.

Boon T, Van Pel A, De Plaen E, Chomez P, Lurquin C, Szikora JP, Sibille C, Mariamé B, Van den Eynde B, Lethé B. 1989. Genes coding for T-cell-defined tum transplantation antigens: point mutations, antigenic peptides, and subgenic expression. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol, 54 Pt 1 pp. 587-596. | Read more

Weynants P, Wauters P, Coulie PG, Van den Eynde B, Symann M, Boon T. 1988. Cytolytic response of human T cells against allogeneic small cell lung carcinoma treated with interferon gamma. Cancer Immunol Immunother, 27 (3), pp. 228-232. | Show Abstract | Read more

Human lymphocytes stimulated in vitro by allogeneic small cell lung carcinoma cell lines did not show any significant cytolytic activity against the stimulator tumor cells. However, a high level of lysis was observed when both stimulator and target small cell lung carcinoma cells were pretreated with interferon gamma, which increased considerably the expression of major histocompatibility class I molecules by these cells. The demonstration that small cell lung carcinoma cells can be lysed by cytolytic T lymphocytes, suggests that it will be feasible to study the autologous T cell response of patients against this tumor.

Van Pel A, De Plaen E, Lurquin C, Van den Eynde B, Lethé B, Hainaut P, Lemoine C, Boon T. 1988. Identification of genes encoding T cell defined tum- antigens. Princess Takamatsu Symp, 19 pp. 255-263. | Show Abstract

Tum- mutants are immunogenic mutants obtained by mutagen treatment of mouse tumor cells. They express new "tum- antigens" recognized by cytolytic T cells (CTL) but not by specific antibodies. We have recently developed a method aimed at cloning the genes coding for such transplantation antigens. It is based on gene transfection and detection of transfectants by their ability to stimulate CTL. Tum- gene P91A has been isolated. It codes for a 60 kDa protein which does not carry a signal sequence at its N-terminus. The tum- allele differs from its normal counterpart by a point mutation. The sequence of this gene and that of two other tum- genes are totally unrelated with each other and with any sequence presently recorded in data banks. We will try to apply the same cloning method to isolate mouse and human tumor-specific transplantation antigens (TSTA).

Vigneron N, Stroobant V, Ferrari V, Abi Habib J, Van den Eynde BJ. 2018. Production of spliced peptides by the proteasome. Mol Immunol, | Show Abstract | Read more

CD8+ cytolytic T lymphocytes are essential players of anti-tumor immune responses. On tumors, they recognize peptides of about 8-to-10 amino acids that generally result from the degradation of cellular proteins by the proteasome. Until a decade ago, these peptides were thought to solely correspond to linear fragments of proteins that were liberated after the hydrolysis of the peptide bonds located at their extremities. However, several examples of peptides containing two fragments originally distant in the protein sequence challenged this concept and demonstrated that proteasome could also splice peptides together by creating a new peptide bond between two distant fragments. Unexpectedly, peptide splicing emerges as an essential way to increase the peptide repertoire diversity as these spliced peptides were shown to represent up to 25% of the peptides presented on a cell by MHC class I. Here, we review the different steps that led to the discovery of peptide splicing by the proteasome as well as the lightening offered by the recent progresses of mass spectrometry and bioinformatics in the analysis of the spliced peptide repertoire.

Zhu J, Powis de Tenbossche CG, Cané S, Colau D, van Baren N, Lurquin C, Schmitt-Verhulst A-M, Liljeström P, Uyttenhove C, Van den Eynde BJ. 2017. Resistance to cancer immunotherapy mediated by apoptosis of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Nat Commun, 8 (1), pp. 1404. | Show Abstract | Read more

Despite impressive clinical success, cancer immunotherapy based on immune checkpoint blockade remains ineffective in many patients due to tumoral resistance. Here we use the autochthonous TiRP melanoma model, which recapitulates the tumoral resistance signature observed in human melanomas. TiRP tumors resist immunotherapy based on checkpoint blockade, cancer vaccines or adoptive T-cell therapy. TiRP tumors recruit and activate tumor-specific CD8+ T cells, but these cells then undergo apoptosis. This does not occur with isogenic transplanted tumors, which are rejected after adoptive T-cell therapy. Apoptosis of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes can be prevented by interrupting the Fas/Fas-ligand axis, and is triggered by polymorphonuclear-myeloid-derived suppressor cells, which express high levels of Fas-ligand and are enriched in TiRP tumors. Blocking Fas-ligand increases the anti-tumor efficacy of adoptive T-cell therapy in TiRP tumors, and increases the efficacy of checkpoint blockade in transplanted tumors. Therefore, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes apoptosis is a relevant mechanism of immunotherapy resistance, which could be blocked by interfering with the Fas/Fas-ligand pathway.

Vigneron N, Ferrari V, Stroobant V, Abi Habib J, Van den Eynde BJ. 2017. Peptide splicing by the proteasome. J Biol Chem, 292 (51), pp. 21170-21179. | Show Abstract | Read more

The proteasome is the major protease responsible for the production of antigenic peptides recognized by CD8+ cytolytic T cells (CTL). These peptides, generally 8-10 amino acids long, are presented at the cell surface by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. Originally, these peptides were believed to be solely derived from linear fragments of proteins, but this concept was challenged several years ago by the isolation of anti-tumor CTL that recognized spliced peptides, i.e. peptides composed of fragments distant in the parental protein. The splicing process was shown to occur in the proteasome through a transpeptidation reaction involving an acyl-enzyme intermediate. Here, we review the steps that led to the discovery of spliced peptides as well as the recent advances that uncover the unexpected importance of spliced peptides in the composition of the MHC class I repertoire.

Vigneron N, Abi Habib J, Van den Eynde BJ. 2017. Learning from the Proteasome How To Fine-Tune Cancer Immunotherapy. Trends Cancer, 3 (10), pp. 726-741. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cancer immunotherapy has recently emerged as a forefront strategy to fight cancer. Key players in antitumor responses are CD8+ cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs) that can detect tumor cells that carry antigens, in other words, small peptides bound to surface major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. The success and safety of cancer immunotherapy strategies depends on the nature of the antigens recognized by the targeted T cells, their strict tumor specificity, and whether tumors and antigen-presenting cells can efficiently process the peptide. We review here the nature of the tumor antigens and their potential for the development of immunotherapeutic strategies. We also discuss the importance of proteasome in the production of these peptides in the context of immunotherapy and therapeutic cancer vaccines.

Hennequart M, Pilotte L, Cane S, Hoffmann D, Stroobant V, De Plaen E, Van den Eynde BJ. 2017. Constitutive IDO1 Expression in Human Tumors Is Driven by Cyclooxygenase-2 and Mediates Intrinsic Immune Resistance. Cancer Immunol Res, 5 (8), pp. 695-709. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tumors use various mechanisms to avoid immune destruction. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression may be a driver of immune suppression in melanoma, but the mechanisms involved remain elusive. Here, we show that COX-2 expression drives constitutive expression of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) in human tumor cells. IDO1 is an immunosuppressive enzyme that degrades tryptophan. In a series of seven human tumor lines, constitutive IDO1 expression depends on COX-2 and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which, upon autocrine signaling through the EP receptor, activates IDO1 via the PKC and PI3K pathways. COX-2 expression itself depends on the MAPK pathway, which therefore indirectly controls IDO1 expression. Most of these tumors carry PI3K or MAPK oncogenic mutations, which may favor constitutive IDO1 expression. Celecoxib treatment promoted immune rejection of IDO1-expressing human tumor xenografts in immunodeficient mice reconstituted with human allogeneic lymphocytes. This effect was associated with a reduced expression of IDO1 in those ovarian SKOV3 tumors and an increased infiltration of CD3+ and CD8+ cells. Our results highlight the role of COX-2 in constitutive IDO1 expression by human tumors and substantiate the use of COX-2 inhibitors to improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy, by reducing constitutive IDO1 expression, which contributes to the lack of T-cell infiltration in "cold" tumors, which fail to respond to immunotherapy. Cancer Immunol Res; 5(8); 1-15. ©2017 AACR.

Ma W, Zhang Y, Vigneron N, Stroobant V, Thielemans K, van der Bruggen P, Van den Eynde BJ. 2016. Long-Peptide Cross-Presentation by Human Dendritic Cells Occurs in Vacuoles by Peptide Exchange on Nascent MHC Class I Molecules. J Immunol, 196 (4), pp. 1711-1720. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cross-presentation enables dendritic cells to present on their MHC class I molecules antigenic peptides derived from exogenous material, through a mechanism that remains partly unclear. It is particularly efficient with long peptides, which are used in cancer vaccines. We studied the mechanism of long-peptide cross-presentation using human dendritic cells and specific CTL clones against melanoma Ags gp100 and Melan-A/MART1. We found that cross-presentation of those long peptides does not depend on the proteasome or the transporter associated with Ag processing, and therefore follows a vacuolar pathway. We also observed that it makes use of newly synthesized MHC class I molecules, through peptide exchange in vesicles distinct from the endoplasmic reticulum and classical secretory pathway, in an SEC22b- and CD74-independent manner. Our results indicate a nonclassical secretion pathway followed by nascent HLA-I molecules that are used for cross-presentation of those long melanoma peptides in the vacuolar pathway. Our results may have implications for the development of vaccines based on long peptides.

Coulie PG, Van den Eynde BJ, van der Bruggen P, Boon T. 2014. Tumour antigens recognized by T lymphocytes: at the core of cancer immunotherapy. Nat Rev Cancer, 14 (2), pp. 135-146. | Show Abstract | Read more

In this Timeline, we describe the characteristics of tumour antigens that are recognized by spontaneous T cell responses in cancer patients and the paths that led to their identification. We explain on what genetic basis most, but not all, of these antigens are tumour specific: that is, present on tumour cells but not on normal cells. We also discuss how strategies that target these tumour-specific antigens can lead either to tumour-specific or to crossreactive T cell responses, which is an issue that has important safety implications in immunotherapy. These safety issues are even more of a concern for strategies targeting antigens that are not known to induce spontaneous T cell responses in patients.

Guillaume B, Stroobant V, Bousquet-Dubouch M-P, Colau D, Chapiro J, Parmentier N, Dalet A, Van den Eynde BJ. 2012. Analysis of the processing of seven human tumor antigens by intermediate proteasomes. J Immunol, 189 (7), pp. 3538-3547. | Show Abstract | Read more

We recently described two proteasome subtypes that are intermediate between the standard proteasome and the immunoproteasome. They contain only one (β5i) or two (β1i and β5i) of the three inducible catalytic subunits of the immunoproteasome. They are present in tumor cells and abundant in normal human tissues. We described two tumor antigenic peptides that are uniquely produced by these intermediate proteasomes. In this work, we studied the production by intermediate proteasomes of tumor antigenic peptides known to be produced exclusively by the immunoproteasome (MAGE-A3(114-122), MAGE-C2(42-50), MAGE-C2(336-344)) or the standard proteasome (Melan-A(26-35), tyrosinase(369-377), gp100(209-217)). We observed that intermediate proteasomes efficiently produced the former peptides, but not the latter. Two peptides from the first group were equally produced by both intermediate proteasomes, whereas MAGE-C2(336-344) was only produced by intermediate proteasome β1i-β5i. Those results explain the recognition of tumor cells devoid of immunoproteasome by CTL recognizing peptides not produced by the standard proteasome. We also describe a third antigenic peptide that is produced exclusively by an intermediate proteasome: peptide MAGE-C2(191-200) is produced only by intermediate proteasome β1i-β5i. Analyzing in vitro digests, we observed that the lack of production by a given proteasome usually results from destruction of the antigenic peptide by internal cleavage. Interestingly, we observed that the immunoproteasome and the intermediate proteasomes fail to cleave between hydrophobic residues, despite a higher chymotrypsin-like activity measured on fluorogenic substrates. Altogether, our results indicate that the repertoire of peptides produced by intermediate proteasomes largely matches the repertoire produced by the immunoproteasome, but also contains additional peptides.

Pilotte L, Larrieu P, Stroobant V, Colau D, Dolusic E, Frédérick R, De Plaen E, Uyttenhove C, Wouters J, Masereel B, Van den Eynde BJ. 2012. Reversal of tumoral immune resistance by inhibition of tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 109 (7), pp. 2497-2502. | Show Abstract | Read more

Tryptophan catabolism mediated by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO1) is an important mechanism of peripheral immune tolerance contributing to tumoral immune resistance, and IDO1 inhibition is an active area of drug development. Tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO) is an unrelated hepatic enzyme that also degrades tryptophan along the kynurenine pathway. Here, we show that enzymatically active TDO is expressed in a significant proportion of human tumors. In a preclinical model, TDO expression by tumors prevented their rejection by immunized mice. We developed a TDO inhibitor, which, upon systemic treatment, restored the ability of mice to reject TDO-expressing tumors. Our results describe a mechanism of tumoral immune resistance based on TDO expression and establish proof-of-concept for the use of TDO inhibitors in cancer therapy.

Huijbers IJ, Soudja SM, Uyttenhove C, Buferne M, Inderberg-Suso E-M, Colau D, Pilotte L, Powis de Tenbossche CG, Chomez P, Brasseur F et al. 2012. Minimal tolerance to a tumor antigen encoded by a cancer-germline gene. J Immunol, 188 (1), pp. 111-121. | Show Abstract | Read more

Central tolerance toward tissue-restricted Ags is considered to rely on ectopic expression in the thymus, which was also observed for tumor Ags encoded by cancer-germline genes. It is unknown whether endogenous expression shapes the T cell repertoire against the latter Ags and explains their weak immunogenicity. We addressed this question using mouse cancer-germline gene P1A, which encodes antigenic peptide P1A(35-43) presented by H-2L(d). We made P1A-knockout (P1A-KO) mice and asked whether their anti-P1A(35-43) immune responses were stronger than those of wild-type mice and whether P1A-KO mice responded to other P1A epitopes, against which wild-type mice were tolerized. We observed that both types of mice mounted similar P1A(35-43)-specific CD8 T cell responses, although the frequency of P1A(35-43)-specific CD8 T cells generated in response to P1A-expressing tumors was slightly higher in P1A-KO mice. This higher reactivity allowed naive P1A-KO mice to reject spontaneously P1A-expressing tumors, which progressed in wild-type mice. TCR-Vβ usage of P1A(35-43)-specific CD8 cells was slightly modified in P1A-KO mice. Peptide P1A(35-43) remained the only P1A epitope recognized by CD8 T cells in both types of mice, which also displayed similar thymic selection of a transgenic TCR recognizing P1A(35-43). These results indicate the existence of a minimal tolerance to an Ag encoded by a cancer-germline gene and suggest that its endogenous expression only slightly affects diversification of the T cell repertoire against this Ag.

Dalet A, Robbins PF, Stroobant V, Vigneron N, Li YF, El-Gamil M, Hanada K-I, Yang JC, Rosenberg SA, Van den Eynde BJ. 2011. An antigenic peptide produced by reverse splicing and double asparagine deamidation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 108 (29), pp. E323-E331. | Show Abstract | Read more

A variety of unconventional translational and posttranslational mechanisms contribute to the production of antigenic peptides, thereby increasing the diversity of the peptide repertoire presented by MHC class I molecules. Here, we describe a class I-restricted peptide that combines several posttranslational modifications. It is derived from tyrosinase and recognized by tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes isolated from a melanoma patient. This unusual antigenic peptide is made of two noncontiguous tyrosinase fragments that are spliced together in the reverse order. In addition, it contains two aspartate residues that replace the asparagines encoded in the tyrosinase sequence. We confirmed that this peptide is naturally presented at the surface of melanoma cells, and we showed that its processing sequentially requires translation of tyrosinase into the endoplasmic reticulum and its retrotranslocation into the cytosol, where deglycosylation of the two asparagines by peptide-N-glycanase turns them into aspartates by deamidation. This process is followed by cleavage and splicing of the appropriate fragments by the standard proteasome and additional transport of the resulting peptide into the endoplasmic reticulum through the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP).

Guillaume B, Chapiro J, Stroobant V, Colau D, Van Holle B, Parvizi G, Bousquet-Dubouch M-P, Théate I, Parmentier N, Van den Eynde BJ. 2010. Two abundant proteasome subtypes that uniquely process some antigens presented by HLA class I molecules. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 107 (43), pp. 18599-18604. | Show Abstract | Read more

Most antigenic peptides presented by MHC class I molecules result from the degradation of intracellular proteins by the proteasome. In lymphoid tissues and cells exposed to IFNγ, the standard proteasome is replaced by the immunoproteasome, in which all of the standard catalytic subunits β1, β2, and β5 are replaced by their inducible counterparts β1i, β2i, and β5i, which have different cleavage specificities. The immunoproteasome thereby shapes the repertoire of antigenic peptides. The existence of additional forms of proteasomes bearing a mixed assortment of standard and inducible catalytic subunits has been suggested. Using a new set of unique subunit-specific antibodies, we have now isolated, quantified, and characterized human proteasomes that are intermediate between the standard proteasome and the immunoproteasome. They contain only one (β5i) or two (β1i and β5i) of the three inducible catalytic subunits of the immunoproteasome. These intermediate proteasomes represent between one-third and one-half of the proteasome content of human liver, colon, small intestine, and kidney. They are also present in human tumor cells and dendritic cells. We identified two tumor antigens of clinical interest that are processed exclusively either by intermediate proteasomes β5i (MAGE-A3(271-279)) or by intermediate proteasomes β1i-β5i (MAGE-A10(254-262)). The existence of these intermediate proteasomes broadens the repertoire of antigens presented to CD8 T cells and implies that the antigens presented by a given cell depend on their proteasome content.

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