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The production of cytotoxic T cells with specificity for cancer cells is a rapidly evolving branch of cancer therapeutics. A variety of approaches aim to amplify anti-tumour cytotoxic T cell responses using purified peptides, tumour cell lysates or recombinant HLA/peptide complexes in differing antigen presenting systems. Using a two-step biotin-streptavidin antibody targeting system, recombinant HLA-class I/peptide complexes were attached to the surface of B cells via the anti-CD20 B9E9-scFvSA antibody-streptavidin fusion protein. Flow cytometry with a conformation dependant monoclonal antibody to HLA class I indicated that targeted HLA-class I/peptide complexes remain on the surface of B cells in culture for periods in excess of 72 h. PBMCs were stimulated in vitro for 8-14 days using the autologous B cells as antigen presenting cells. Following a single cycle of stimulation specific cytotoxic T cell responses to targeted HLA-A2 complexes containing the M1, BMLF1 and Melan A peptides could be demonstrated by tetramer staining and Cr release assays. With the HLA-A2/BMLF1 complex up to 2.99% of CD8+ve cells were tetramer positive producing 20% lysis (E : T 10 : 1) of CIR-A2 target cells in an in vitro cytotoxicity assay compared to baseline levels of 0.09% tetramer +ve and 2% lysis in the unstimulated population. PBMCs from a healthy donor treated with two cycles of stimulations with targeted HLA-A2/Melan A complexes, demonstrated expansion of the melanA tetramer +ve population from 0.03% to 1.4% producing 15% lysis of Melan A pulsed target cells. With further consideration to the key variables of HLA/peptide complex density, the ratio of stimulator to effector cells and optimum cytokine support, this system should offer an easy and effective method for the in vitro amplification of specific cytotoxic T cell responses and warrants development for the in vivo induction of cytotoxic T cell responses in cancer therapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





1336 - 1342


Antibodies, Antibody Specificity, Antigens, Neoplasm, B-Lymphocytes, Flow Cytometry, HLA-A2 Antigen, Humans, MART-1 Antigen, Melanoma, Neoplasm Proteins, Neoplasms, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic, Time Factors, Tumor Cells, Cultured, Viruses