ABSTRACT: Dendritic cells (DC) can achieve cross-presentation of naturally-occurring tumor-associated antigens after phagocytosis and processing of dying tumor cells. They have been used in different clinical settings to vaccinate cancer patients. We have previously used gamma-irradiated MART-1 expressing melanoma cells as a source of antigens to vaccinate melanoma patients by injecting irradiated cells with BCG and GM-CSF or to load immature DC and use them as a vaccine. Other clinical trials have used IFN-gamma activated macrophage killer cells (MAK) to treat cancer patients. However, the clinical use of MAK has been based on their direct tumoricidal activity rather than on their ability to act as antigen-presenting cells to stimulate an adaptive antitumor response. Thus, in the present work, we compared the fate of MART-1 after phagocytosis of gamma-irradiated cells by clinical grade DC or MAK as well as the ability of these cells to cross present MART-1 to CD8(+) T cells. Using a high affinity antibody against MART-1, 2A9, which specifically stains melanoma tumors, melanoma cell lines and normal melanocytes, the expression level of MART-1 in melanoma cell lines could be related to their ability to stimulate IFN-gamma production by a MART-1 specific HLA-A*0201-restricted CD8(+) T cell clone. Confocal microscopy with Alexa Fluor®(647)-labelled 2A9 also showed that MART-1 could be detected in tumor cells attached and/or fused to phagocytes and even inside these cells as early as 1 h and up to 24 h or 48 h after initiation of co-cultures between gamma-irradiated melanoma cells and MAK or DC, respectively. Interestingly, MART-1 was cross-presented to MART-1 specific T cells by both MAK and DC co-cultured with melanoma gamma-irradiated cells for different time-points. Thus, naturally occurring MART-1 melanoma antigen can be taken-up from dying melanoma cells into DC or MAK and both cell types can induce specific CD8(+) T cell cross-presentation thereafter.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(7):e40311. · 4.09 Impact Factor