Due to the fact that many cellular proteins are extensively glycosylated, processing and presentation mechanisms are expected to produce a pool of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I-bound protein-derived peptides, part of which retain sugar moieties. The immunogenic properties of the presented glycosylated peptides in comparison to their non-glycosylated counterparts have not been determined clearly. We assessed the cellular immunogenicity of MUC1 (mucin)-derived peptides O-glycosylated with a Tn epitope (GalNAc) using HLA-A*0201 single chain (HHD)-transfected cell lines and transgenic mice. For part of the compounds Tn moiety did not interfere with the HLA-A*0201 binding. Moreover, part of the glycopeptides elicited effective cytotoxic responses, indicating recognition of the glycopeptide-HLA-A*0201 complex by the T cell receptor (TCR) and subsequent cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) activation. The CTLs exhibited a substantial degree of cross-reactivity against target cells loaded with glycosylated and non-glycosylated forms of the same peptide. The studied (glyco)peptides showed cellular immunogenicity in both MUC1-HHD and HHD mice and induced effective lysis of (glyco)peptide-loaded target cells in CTL assays. However, the elicited CTLs did not induce selective lysis of human MUC1-expressing murine cell lines. Moreover, immunization with (glyco)peptide-loaded dendritic cells (DCs) did not induce significant immunotherapeutic effects. We conclude that Tn glycosylated MUC1-derived peptides can be presented by MHC class I molecules, and may be recognized by specific TCR molecules resulting in cytotoxic immune responses. However, the studied glycopeptides did not offer significant benefit as targets for cytotoxic immune response due apparently to (a) cross-reactivity of the elicited CTLs against the glycosylated and non-glycosylated forms of the same peptide and (b) low abundance of glycopeptides on tumour target cells.
- Cytotoxic T lymphocytes
- Tumour immunity