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Expression of NY-ESO-1 in a high proportion of different human tumors makes this protein a very attractive vaccine target. NY-ESO-1 peptides, recognized by HLA-A2-restricted CTL, have recently been described. However, it remains unclear how efficiently tumors generate these epitopes, and whether peptide analogues can be used for optimal expansion and activation of NY-ESO-1-specific HLA-A2-restricted CTL. By generating unique CTL clones, we demonstrate that NY-ESO-1-positive tumor cells are efficiently killed by HLA-A2-restricted CTL specific for the peptide epitope NY-ESO-1 157-165. Presentation of this epitope is not affected by the presence or absence of the proteasome subunits low molecular proteins 2 and 7 and is not blocked by proteasome inhibitors, while it is impaired in the TAP-deficient cell line LBL 721.174. NY-ESO-1 157-165 peptide analogues were compared for their antigenicity and immunogenicity using PBL from melanoma patients. Three peptides, containing the carboxyl-terminal cysteine substituted for either valine, isoleucine, or leucine, were recognized at least 100 times more efficiently than the wild-type peptide by specific CTL. Peptide analogues were capable of stimulating the expansion of NY-ESO-1-specific CTL from PBL of melanoma patients much more efficiently than wild-type peptide. These findings define the processing requirements for the generation of the NY-ESO-1 157-165 epitope. Identification of highly antigenic NY-ESO-1 peptide analogues may be important for the development of vaccines capable of expanding NY-ESO-1-specific CTL in cancer patients.


Journal article


J Immunol

Publication Date





948 - 955


Amino Acid Substitution, Antigen Presentation, Antigens, Neoplasm, Cysteine, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte, HLA-A2 Antigen, Humans, Intracellular Fluid, Lymphocyte Activation, Melanoma, Membrane Proteins, Peptide Fragments, Protein Binding, Proteins, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic, Tumor Cells, Cultured