Citrullinated Vimentin presented on MHC-II in Tumor Cells is a target for CD4þ T-cell-mediated antitumor immunity (2016)
Victoria A. Brentville, Rachael L. Metheringham, Barbara Gunn, Peter Symonds, Ian Daniels, Mohamed Gijon, Katherine Cook, Wei Xue and Lindy G. Durrant
ABSTRACT: Stressful conditions in the harsh tumor microenvironment induce autophagy in cancer cells as a mechanism to promote their survival.However, autophagy also causes post-translational modification of proteins that are recognized by the immune system. In particular, modified self-antigens can trigger CD4+ T-cell responses that might be exploited to boost antitumor immune defenses. In this study, we investigated the ability of CD4 cells to target tumor-specific self-antigens modified by citrullination, which converts arginine residues in proteins to citrulline. Focusing on the intermediate filament protein vimentin, which is frequently citrullinated in cells during epithelial-tomesenchymal transition of metastasizing epithelial tumors, we generated citrullinated vimentin peptides for immunization experiments in mice. Immunization with these peptides induced IFNγ- and granzyme B-secreting CD4 T cells in response to autophagic tumor targets. Remarkably, a single immunization with modified peptide, up to 14 days after tumor implant, resulted in long-term survival in 60% to 90% of animals with no associated toxicity. This antitumor response was dependent on CD4 cells and not CD8+ T cells. These results show how CD4 cells can mediate potent antitumor responses against modified self-epitopes presented on tumor cells, and they illustrate fort he first time how the citrullinated peptides may offer especially attractive vaccine targets for cancer therapy. Cancer Res; 76(3); 548–60. 2015 AACR.