Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) are potent effector cells that could provide long term antitumor immunity if induced by appropriate vaccines. CTL recognize 8-14 amino acid-long peptides processed intracellularly and presented by MHC class I molecules. A well-characterized example of a potential tumor antigen in childhood pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) results from the chromosomal translocation 12;21 leading to the fusion of the ETV6 and AML1 genes. This translocation is observed in > 25% of ALL-patients. In this study, we have examined whether the chimeric ETV6-AML1 protein could serve as a tumor specific antigen for CTL in HLA-A2.1 individuals. We have identified a nonapeptide (RIAECILGM), encoded by the fusion region of the ETV6-AML1 protein, that binds to HLA-A2.1 molecules and induces specific primary CTL in peripheral blood lymphocytes from healthy donors. These CTL specifically lysed HLA-A2.1 tumor cells endogeneously expressing the ETV6-AML fusion protein. CTL with similar functional capacities were found with high frequencies and cloned from one patient's bone marrow indicating that ETV6-AML1-specific anti-ALL CTL are, at least in some patients, spontaneously stimulated and might participate to host antileukemia defense.
P Yotnda, F Garcia, M Peuchmaur, B Grandchamp, M Duval, F Lemonnier, E Vilmer, P Langlade-Demoyen