Verena Rubio-Godoy

University Hospital of Lausanne, Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland

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Publications (26)

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Activated CD8 T cells develop cytotoxicity against autologous cells bearing foreign Ags and self/tumor Ags. However, self-specific cytolysis needs to be kept under control to avoid overwhelming immunopathology. After peptide vaccination of melanoma patients, we studied molecular and functional properties of T cell subsets specific for the self/tumor Ag Melan-A/MART-1. Ex vivo analysis revealed three Ag-specific effector memory (EM) populations, as follows: CD28-negative EM (EM28(-)) T cells strongly expressing granzyme/perforin, and two EM28(+) subsets, one with high and the other with low level expression of these cytotoxic proteins. For further functional characterization, we generated 117 stable CD8 T cell clones by ex vivo flow cytometry-based sorting of these subsets. All EM28(-)-derived clones lysed target cells with high efficacy. In contrast, EM28(+)-derived clones were heterogenous, and could be classified in two groups, one with high and the other with low killing capacity, correlating with granzyme/perforin expression. High and low killer phenotypes remained surprisingly stable for several months. However, strongly increased granzyme expression and cytotoxicity were observed after exposure to IL-12. Thus, the data reveal a newly identified subset of CD28(+) conditional killer T cells. Because CD28 can mediate strong costimulatory signals, tight cytotoxicity control, as shown in this study through IL-12, may be particularly important for subsets of T cells expressing CD28.
    Article · Apr 2007 · The Journal of Immunology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tumor antigen-specific cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) play a major role in the adaptive immune response to cancers. This CTL response is often insufficient because of functional impairment, tumor escape mechanisms, or inhibitory tumor microenvironment. However, little is known about the fate of given tumor-specific CTL clones in cancer patients. Studies in patients with favorable outcomes may be very informative. In this longitudinal study, we tracked, quantified, and characterized functionally defined antigen-specific T-cell clones ex vivo, in peripheral blood and at tumor sites, in two long-term melanoma survivors. MAGE-A10-specific CD8+ T-cell clones with high avidity to antigenic peptide and tumor lytic capabilities persisted in peripheral blood over more than 10 years, with quantitative variations correlating with the clinical course. These clones were also found in emerging metastases, and, in one patient, circulating clonal T cells displayed a fully differentiated effector phenotype at the time of relapse. Longevity, tumor homing, differentiation phenotype, and quantitative adaptation to the disease phases suggest the contribution of the tracked tumor-reactive clones in the tumor control of these long-term metastatic survivor patients. Focusing research on patients with favorable outcomes may help to identify parameters that are crucial for an efficient antitumor response and to optimize cancer immunotherapy.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2007 · Journal of Investigative Dermatology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite major progress in T lymphocyte analysis in melanoma patients, TCR repertoire selection and kinetics in response to tumor Ags remain largely unexplored. In this study, using a novel ex vivo molecular-based approach at the single-cell level, we identified a single, naturally primed T cell clone that dominated the human CD8(+) T cell response to the Melan-A/MART-1 Ag. The dominant clone expressed a high-avidity TCR to cognate tumor Ag, efficiently killed tumor cells, and prevailed in the differentiated effector-memory T lymphocyte compartment. TCR sequencing also revealed that this particular clone arose at least 1 year before vaccination, displayed long-term persistence, and efficient homing to metastases. Remarkably, during concomitant vaccination over 3.5 years, the frequency of the pre-existing clone progressively increased, reaching up to 2.5% of the circulating CD8 pool while its effector functions were enhanced. In parallel, the disease stabilized, but subsequently progressed with loss of Melan-A expression by melanoma cells. Collectively, combined ex vivo analysis of T cell differentiation and clonality revealed for the first time a strong expansion of a tumor Ag-specific human T cell clone, comparable to protective virus-specific T cells. The observed successful boosting by peptide vaccination support further development of immunotherapy by including strategies to overcome immune escape.
    Full-text Article · Aug 2006 · The Journal of Immunology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The induction of potent CD8+ T cell responses by vaccines to fight microbes or tumors remains a major challenge, as many candidates for human vaccines have proved to be poorly immunogenic. Deoxycytidyl-deoxyguanosin oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG ODNs) trigger Toll-like receptor 9, resulting in dendritic cell maturation that can enhance immunogenicity of peptide-based vaccines in mice. We tested whether a synthetic ODN, CpG 7909, could improve human tumor antigen-specific CD8+ T cell responses. Eight HLA-A2+ melanoma patients received 4 monthly vaccinations of low-dose CpG 7909 mixed with melanoma antigen A (Melan-A; identical to MART-1) analog peptide and incomplete Freund's adjuvant. All patients exhibited rapid and strong antigen-specific T cell responses: the frequency of Melan-A-specific T cells reached over 3% of circulating CD8+ T cells. This was one order of magnitude higher than the frequency seen in 8 control patients treated similarly but without CpG and 1-3 orders of magnitude higher than that seen in previous studies with synthetic vaccines. The enhanced T cell populations consisted primarily of effector memory cells, which in part secreted IFN- and expressed granzyme B and perforin ex vivo. In vitro, T cell clones recognized and killed melanoma cells in an antigen-specific manner. Thus, CpG 7909 is an efficient vaccine adjuvant that promotes strong antigen-specific CD8+ T cell responses in humans.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2005 · Journal of Clinical Investigation
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    Full-text Article · Feb 2005 · Cancer treatment and research
  • Chapter · Jan 2005
  • D. Speiser · D. Lienard · V. Rubio-Godoy · [...] · P. Romero
    Article · Sep 2004 · EJC Supplements
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    Alfred Zippelius · Pascal Batard · Verena Rubio-Godoy · [...] · Mikaël J Pittet
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although tumor-specific CD8 T-cell responses often develop in cancer patients, they rarely result in tumor eradication. We aimed at studying directly the functional efficacy of tumor-specific CD8 T cells at the site of immune attack. Tumor lesions in lymphoid and nonlymphoid tissues (metastatic lymph nodes and soft tissue/visceral metastases, respectively) were collected from stage III/IV melanoma patients and investigated for the presence and function of CD8 T cells specific for the tumor differentiation antigen Melan-A/MART-1. Comparative analysis was conducted with peripheral blood T cells. We provide evidence that in vivo-priming selects, within the available naive Melan-A/MART-1-specific CD8 T-cell repertoire, cells with high T-cell receptor avidity that can efficiently kill melanoma cells in vitro. In vivo, primed Melan-A/MART-1-specific CD8 T cells accumulate at high frequency in both lymphoid and nonlymphoid tumor lesions. Unexpectedly, however, whereas primed Melan-A/MART-1-specific CD8 T cells that circulate in the blood display robust inflammatory and cytotoxic functions, those that reside in tumor lesions (particularly in metastatic lymph nodes) are functionally tolerant. We show that both the lymph node and the tumor environments blunt T-cell effector functions and offer a rationale for the failure of tumor-specific responses to effectively counter tumor progression.
    Full-text Article · May 2004 · Cancer Research
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    Mikaël J Pittet · Verena Rubio-Godoy · Gilles Bioley · [...] · Alfred Zippelius
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The goal of adoptive T cell therapy in cancer is to provide effective antitumor immunity by transfer of selected populations of tumor Ag-specific T cells. Transfer of T cells with high TCR avidity is critical for in vivo efficacy. In this study, we demonstrate that fluorescent peptide/MHC class I multimeric complexes incorporating mutations in the alpha3 domain (D227K/T228A) that abrogate binding to the CD8 coreceptor can be used to selectively isolate tumor Ag-specific T cells of high functional avidity from both in vitro expanded and ex vivo T cell populations. Sorting, cloning, and expansion of alpha3 domain mutant multimer-positive CD8 T cells enabled rapid selection of high avidity tumor-reactive T cell clones. Our results are relevant for ex vivo identification and isolation of T cells with potent antitumor activity for adoptive T cell therapy.
    Full-text Article · Sep 2003 · The Journal of Immunology
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    Verena Rubio-Godoy · Valérie Dutoit · Yingdong Zhao · [...] · Danila Valmori
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Synthetic combinatorial peptide libraries in positional scanning format (PS-SCL) have recently emerged as a useful tool for the analysis of T cell recognition. This includes identification of potentially cross-reactive sequences of self or pathogen origin that could be relevant for the understanding of TCR repertoire selection and maintenance, as well as of the cross-reactive potential of Ag-specific immune responses. In this study, we have analyzed the recognition of sequences retrieved by using a biometric analysis of the data generated by screening a PS-SCL with a tumor-reactive CTL clone specific for an immunodominant peptide from the melanocyte differentiation and tumor-associated Ag Melan-A. We found that 39% of the retrieved peptides were recognized by the CTL clone used for PS-SCL screening. The proportion of peptides recognized was higher among those with both high predicted affinity for the HLA-A2 molecule and high predicted stimulatory score. Interestingly, up to 94% of the retrieved peptides were cross-recognized by other Melan-A-specific CTL. Cross-recognition was at least partially focused, as some peptides were cross-recognized by the majority of CTL. Importantly, stimulation of PBMC from melanoma patients with the most frequently recognized peptides elicited the expansion of heterogeneous CD8(+) T cell populations, one fraction of which cross-recognized Melan-A. Together, these results underline the high predictive value of PS-SCL for the identification of sequences cross-recognized by Ag-specific T cells.
    Full-text Article · Dec 2002 · The Journal of Immunology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Some cancer patients mount spontaneous T- and B-cell responses against their tumor cells. Autologous tumor reactive CD8 cytolytic T lymphocyte (CTL) and CD4 T-cell clones as well as antibodies from these patients have been used for the identification of genes encoding the target antigens. This knowledge opened the way for new approaches to the immunotherapy of cancer. In this review, we describe the characterization of the structure-function properties of the melanocyte/melanoma tumor antigen Melan-A/MART-1, the assessment of the T-cell repertoire available against this antigen in healthy individuals, and the analysis of naturally acquired and/or vaccine-induced CTL responses to this antigen in patients with metastatic melanoma.
    Article · Nov 2002 · Immunological Reviews
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Combinatorial libraries and in particular positional scanning synthetic combinatorial libraries (PS-SCL) allow the study of T cell specificity. This is a systematic and unbiased approach that does not require any previous knowledge about the clones to be studied, neither their specificity nor they major histocompatibility complex (MHC) restriction. Two different types of T cell clone ligands can be identified: (1) peptides that do not necessarily correspond to proteins described in the databases, and (2) peptides that are fragments of natural proteins. In this paper, relevant examples of the application of PS-SCL and the deconvolution strategies followed to identify T cell epitopes for clones of known and unknown specificity will be reviewed. Also, important issues like the immunogenicity of such T cell ligands will be discussed.
    Full-text Article · Oct 2002 · Journal of Immunological Methods
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    Verena Rubio-Godoy · Maha Ayyoub · Valerie Dutoit · [...] · Danila Valmori
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A novel approach for the identification of tumor antigen-derived sequences recognized by CD8(+) cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) consists in using synthetic combinatorial peptide libraries. Here we have screened a library composed of 3.1 x 10(11) nonapeptides arranged in a positional scanning format, in a cytotoxicity assay, to search the antigen recognized by melanoma-reactive CTL of unknown specificity. The results of this analysis enabled the identification of several optimal peptide ligands, as most of the individual nonapeptides deduced from the primary screening were efficiently recognized by the CTL. The results of the library screening were also analyzed with a mathematical approach based on a model of independent and additive contribution of individual amino acids to antigen recognition. This biometrical data analysis enabled the retrieval, in public databases, of the native antigenic peptide SSX-2(41-49), whose sequence is highly homologous to the ones deduced from the library screening, among the ones with the highest stimulatory score. These results underline the high predictive value of positional scanning synthetic combinatorial peptide library analysis and encourage its use for the identification of CTL ligands.
    Full-text Article · Sep 2002 · European Journal of Immunology
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    Valérie Dutoit · Verena Rubio-Godoy · Mikäel J Pittet · [...] · Danila Valmori
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In contrast with the low frequency of most single epitope reactive T cells in the preimmune repertoire, up to 1 of 1,000 naive CD8(+) T cells from A2(+) individuals specifically bind fluorescent A2/peptide multimers incorporating the A27L analogue of the immunodominant 26-35 peptide from the melanocyte differentiation and melanoma associated antigen Melan-A. This represents the only naive antigen-specific T cell repertoire accessible to direct analysis in humans up to date. To get insight into the molecular basis for the selection and maintenance of such an abundant repertoire, we analyzed the functional diversity of T cells composing this repertoire ex vivo at the clonal level. Surprisingly, we found a significant proportion of multimer(+) clonotypes that failed to recognize both Melan-A analogue and parental peptides in a functional assay but efficiently recognized peptides from proteins of self- or pathogen origin selected for their potential functional cross-reactivity with Melan-A. Consistent with these data, multimers incorporating some of the most frequently recognized peptides specifically stained a proportion of naive CD8(+) T cells similar to that observed with Melan-A multimers. Altogether these results indicate that the high frequency of Melan-A multimer(+) T cells can be explained by the existence of largely cross-reactive subsets of naive CD8(+) T cells displaying multiple specificities.
    Full-text Article · Aug 2002 · Journal of Experimental Medicine
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    Verena Rubio-Godoy · Clemencia Pinilla · Valerie Dutoit · [...] · Danila Valmori
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The use of synthetic combinatorial peptide libraries in positional scanning format (PS-SCL) has emerged recently as an alternative approach for the identification of peptides recognized by T lymphocytes. The choice of both the PS-SCL used for screening experiments and the method used for data analysis are crucial for implementing this approach. With this aim, we tested the recognition of different PS-SCL by a tyrosinase 368-376-specific CTL clone and analyzed the data obtained with a recently developed biometric data analysis based on a model of independent and additive contribution of individual amino acids to peptide antigen recognition. Mixtures defined with amino acids present at the corresponding positions in the native sequence were among the most active for all of the libraries. Somewhat surprisingly, a higher number of native amino acids were identifiable by using amidated COOH-terminal rather than free COOH-terminal PS-SCL. Also, our data clearly indicate that when using PS-SCL longer than optimal, frame shifts occur frequently and should be taken into account. Biometric analysis of the data obtained with the amidated COOH-terminal nonapeptide library allowed the identification of the native ligand as the sequence with the highest score in a public human protein database. However, the adequacy of the PS-SCL data for the identification for the peptide ligand varied depending on the PS-SCL used. Altogether these results provide insight into the potential of PS-SCL for the identification of CTL-defined tumor-derived antigenic sequences and may significantly implement our ability to interpret the results of these analyses.
    Full-text Article · May 2002 · Cancer Research
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Both the underlying molecular mechanisms and the kinetics of TCR repertoire selection following vaccination against tumor Ags in humans have remained largely unexplored. To gain insight into these questions, we performed a functional and structural longitudinal analysis of the TCR of circulating CD8(+) T cells specific for the HLA-A2-restricted immunodominant epitope from the melanocyte differentiation Ag Melan-A in a melanoma patient who developed a vigorous and sustained Ag-specific T cell response following vaccination with the corresponding synthetic peptide. We observed an increase in functional avidity of Ag recognition and in tumor reactivity in the postimmune Melan-A-specific populations as compared with the preimmune blood sample. Improved Ag recognition correlated with an increase in the t(1/2) of peptide/MHC interaction with the TCR as assessed by kinetic analysis of A2/Melan-A peptide multimer staining decay. Ex vivo analysis of the clonal composition of Melan-A-specific CD8(+) T cells at different time points during vaccination revealed that the response was the result of asynchronous expansion of several distinct T cell clones. Some of these T cell clones were also identified at a metastatic tumor site. Collectively, these data show that tumor peptide-driven immune stimulation leads to the selection of high-avidity T cell clones of increased tumor reactivity that independently evolve within oligoclonal populations.
    Full-text Article · May 2002 · The Journal of Immunology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To defend the host from malignancies, the immune system can spontaneously raise CD8(+) T-cell responses against tumor antigens. Investigating the functional state of tumor-reactive cytolytic T cells in cancer patients is a key step for understanding the role of these cells in tumor immunosurveillance and for evaluating the potential of immunotherapeutic approaches of vaccination against cancer. In this study we identified a subset of circulating tumor-reactive CD8(+) T lymphocytes, which specifically secreted IFN-gamma after exposition to autologous tumor cell lines in stage IV metastatic melanoma patients. Additional phenotypic characterization using multicolor flow cytometry revealed that a significant fraction of these cells were CD45RA(+)CCR7(-), a phenotype that has been proposed recently to characterize cytolytic effectors potentially able to home into inflamed tissues. In the case of an HLA-A2-expressing patient, the antigen specificity of this population was identified by using HLA-A2/peptide multimers incorporating a tyrosinase-derived peptide. Consistently with their phenotypic characteristics, A2/tyrosinase peptide multimer(+) CD8(+) T cells, isolated by cell sorting, were directly lytic ex vivo and able to specifically recognize tyrosinase-expressing tumor cells. Overall, these results provide the first evidence that a proportion of melanoma patients have circulating tumor-reactive T cells, which are lytic effectors cells.
    Full-text Article · Apr 2002 · Cancer Research
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    Valérie Dutoit · Verena Rubio-Godoy · Marie-Agnès Doucey · [...] · Danila Valmori
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Avidity of Ag recognition by tumor-specific T cells is one of the main parameters that determines the potency of a tumor rejection Ag. In this study we show that the relative efficiency of staining of tumor Ag-specific T lymphocytes with the corresponding fluorescent MHC class I/peptide multimeric complexes can considerably vary with staining conditions and does not necessarily correlate with avidity of Ag recognition. Instead, we found a clear correlation between avidity of Ag recognition and the stability of MHC class I/peptide multimeric complexes interaction with TCR as measured in dissociation kinetic experiments. These findings are relevant for both identification and isolation of tumor-reactive CTL.
    Full-text Article · Mar 2002 · The Journal of Immunology
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    Valérie Dutoit · Verena Rubio-Godoy · PY Dietrich · [...] · Danila Valmori
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MAGE-encoded antigens, which are expressed by tumors of many histological types but not in normal tissues, are suitable candidates for vaccine-based immunotherapy of cancers. Thus far, however, T-cell responses to MAGE antigens have been detected only occasionally in cancer patients. In contrast, by using HLA/peptide fluorescent tetramers, we have observed recently that CD8(+) T cells specific for peptide MAGE-A10(254-262) can be detected frequently in peptide-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HLA-A2-expressing melanoma patients and healthy donors. On the basis of these results, antitumoral vaccination trials using peptide MAGE-A10(254-262) have been implemented recently. In the present study, we have characterized MAGE-A10(254-262)-specific CD8(+) T cells in polyclonal cultures and at the clonal level. The results indicate that the repertoire of MAGE-A10(254-262)-specific CD8(+) T cells is diverse both in terms of clonal composition, efficiency of peptide recognition, and tumor-specific lytic activity. Importantly, only CD8(+) T cells able to recognize the antigenic peptide with high efficiency are able to lyse MAGE-A10-expressing tumor cells. Under defined experimental conditions, the tetramer staining intensity exhibited by MAGE-A10(254-262)-specific CD8(+) T cells correlates with efficiency of peptide recognition so that "high" and "low" avidity cells can be separated by FACS. Altogether, the data reported here provide evidence for functional diversity of MAGE-A10(254-262)-specific T cells and will be instrumental for the monitoring of peptide MAGE-A10(254-262)-based clinical trials.
    Full-text Article · Sep 2001 · Cancer Research
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    Verena Rubio-Godoy · Valerie Dutoit · Donata Rimoldi · [...] · Danila Valmori
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Activation of CD8(+) cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs) by antigen is triggered by the interaction of clonotypic alphabeta T cell receptors (TCRs) with antigenic peptides bound to MHC class I molecules (pMHC complexes). Fluorescent multimeric pMHC complexes have been shown to specifically stain antigen-specific CTLs by directly binding the TCR. In tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes from a melanoma patient we found a high frequency of tyrosinase(368-376) peptide-specific cells as detected by IFN-gamma ELISPOT, without detectable staining with the corresponding A2/peptide multimers. Surprisingly, these T cells were able to lyse tyrosinase(368-376) peptide-pulsed target cells as efficiently as other specific T cells that were stained by multimers. Analysis of the staining patterns under different conditions of incubation time and temperature revealed that these results were explained by major differences in TCR-multimeric ligand interaction kinetics among the clones. Whereas no direct quantitative correlation between antigenic peptide concentration required for CTL effector functions and equilibrium multimer binding was observed interclonally, the latter was profoundly affected by the kinetics of TCR-ligand interaction. More importantly, our data indicate that similar levels of T cell activation can be achieved by independent CD8(+) T cell clonotypes displaying different TCR/pMHC complex dissociation rates.
    Full-text Article · Sep 2001 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences