Analysis of the cytolytic T lymphocyte response of melanoma patients to the naturally HLA-A*0201-associated tyrosinase peptide 368-376.
Valmori D., Pittet MJ., Vonarbourg C., Rimoldi D., Liénard D., Speiser D., Dunbar R., Cerundolo V., Cerottini JC., Romero P.
The human tyrosinase gene codes for two distinct antigens that are recognized by HLA-A*0201-restricted CTLs. For one of them, tyrosinase peptide 368-376, the sequence identified by mass spectrometry in melanoma cell eluates differs from the gene-encoded sequence as a result of posttranslational modification of amino acid residue 370 (asparagine to aspartic acid). Here, we used fluorescent tetrameric complexes ("tetramers") of HLA-A*0201 and tyrosinase peptide 368-376 (YMDGTMSQV) to characterize the CD8+ T-cell response to this antigen in lymphoid cell populations from HLA-A2 melanoma patients. Taking advantage of the presence of significant numbers of tetramer-positive CD8+ T cells in tumor-infiltrated lymph node cells from a melanoma patient, we derived polyclonal and monoclonal tyrosinase peptide 368-376-specific CTLs by tetramer-guided flow cytometric sorting. These CTLs efficiently and specifically lysed HLA-A*0201- and tyrosinase-positive melanoma cells. As assessed with tyrosinase peptide variants, the fine antigen specificity of the CTLs was quite diverse at the clonal level. Flow cytometric analysis of PBMCs stained with tetramers showed that tyrosinase peptide 368-376-specific CD8+ T cells were hardly detectable in peripheral blood of melanoma patients. However, significant numbers of such cells were detected after short-term stimulation of CD8+ lymphocytes with tyrosinase peptide 368-376 in 6 of 10 HLA-A2 melanoma patients. Taken together, these findings emphasize the significant contribution of the natural tyrosinase peptide 368-376 to the antigenic specificities recognized by the tumor-reactive CTLs that may develop in HLA-A2 melanoma patients.