Minimal tolerance to a tumor antigen encoded by a cancer-germline gene.
Huijbers IJ., Soudja SM., Uyttenhove C., Buferne M., Inderberg-Suso E-M., Colau D., Pilotte L., Powis de Tenbossche CG., Chomez P., Brasseur F., Schmitt-Verhulst A-M., Van den Eynde BJ.
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.