Heteroclitic peptide modifications increase immunogenicity, allowing generation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) against weakly immunogenic tumor-associated antigens (TAAs). A critical issue is whether T cells generated against heteroclitic peptides retain the ability to recognize and kill tumor cells expressing the original weak TAAs, and whether there is a lower threshold of binding affinity of the native peptides, below which such CTLs can still kill primary tumor cells. To examine this we used a model examining the ability of native and heteroclitic immunoglobulin (Ig)-derived peptides to generate CTLs that can kill chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells. We demonstrate that CTLs generated against heteroclitic peptides have enhanced killing of CD40-activated B cells pulsed with either heteroclitic (P < .001) or native peptide (P = .04) and primary CLL cells (P = .01). The novel finding reported here is that the rate-limiting factor appears to be the ability to generate CTLs and that once generated, CTL lysis of primary tumor cells is independent of the binding affinity of the native peptide. These findings have implications for vaccination strategies in malignancies and are currently being further examined in vivo in murine models.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology