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Presence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) predicts survival in many cancer types. In HPV-driven cancers, cervical and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (CSCC and OPSCC, respectively), numbers of infiltrating T cells, particularly CD8+ T cells, and presentation of HPV E6/E7 epitopes are associated with improved prognosis. Endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidase 1 (ERAP1) regulates the presented peptide repertoire, trimming peptide precursors prior to MHC I loading. ERAP1 is polymorphic, and allotypic variation of ERAP1 enzyme activity has an impact on the presented peptide repertoire. Individual SNPs are associated with incidence and outcome in a number of diseases, including CSCC. Here, we highlight the requirement for ERAP1 in the generation of HPV E6/E7 epitopes and show that the functional activity of ERAP1 allotype combinations identified in OPSCC correlate with tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T-cell (CD8)/TIL (CD8/TIL) status of the tumor. Functional analyses revealed that ERAP1 allotype combinations associated with CD8/TILlow tumors have a reduced capacity to generate both a model antigen SIINFEHL and the HPV-16 E782-90 epitope LLMGTLGIV from N-terminally extended precursor peptides. In contrast, ERAP1 allotypes from CD8/TILhigh tumors generated the epitopes efficiently. These data reveal that ERAP1 function correlates with CD8/TIL numbers and, by implication, prognosis, suggesting that the presentation of HPV-16 epitopes at the cell surface, resulting in an anti-HPV T-cell response, may depend on the ERAP1 allotype combinations expressed within an individual.

Original publication




Journal article


Cancer immunology research

Publication Date





1202 - 1213


Centre for Cancer Immunology, University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom.


CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating, Humans, Papillomaviridae, Papillomavirus Infections, Carcinoma, Squamous Cell, Oropharyngeal Neoplasms, Aminopeptidases, Peptide Fragments, Oncogene Proteins, Viral, Minor Histocompatibility Antigens, Epitopes, Cohort Studies, Antigen Presentation, Polymorphism, Genetic