Minor histocompatibility antigens (mHAgs) constitute the targets of the graft-versus-leukemia response after HLA-identical allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Here, we have used genetic linkage analysis to identify a novel mHAg, designated lymphoid-restricted histocompatibility antigen–1 (LRH-1), which is encoded by the P2X5 gene and elicited an allogeneic CTL response in a patient with chronic myeloid leukemia after donor lymphocyte infusion. We demonstrate that immunogenicity for LRH-1 is due to differential protein expression in recipient and donor cells as a consequence of a homozygous frameshift polymorphism in the donor. Tetramer analysis showed that emergence of LRH-1–specific CD8+ cytotoxic T cells in peripheral blood and bone marrow correlated with complete remission of chronic myeloid leukemia. Furthermore, the restricted expression of LRH-1 in hematopoietic cells including leukemic CD34+ progenitor cells provides evidence of a role for LRH-1–specific CD8+ cytotoxic T cells in selective graft-versus-leukemia reactivity in the absence of severe graft-versus-host disease. These findings illustrate that the P2X5-encoded mHAg LRH-1 could be an attractive target for specific immunotherapy to treat hematological malignancies recurring after allogeneic stem cell transplantation.
Björn de Rijke, Agnes van Horssen-Zoetbrood, Jeffrey M. Beekman, Britt Otterud, Frans Maas, Rob Woestenenk, Michel Kester, Mark Leppert, Anton V. Schattenberg, Theo de Witte, Elly van de Wiel-van Kemenade, Harry Dolstra