Qualitative differences in the MHC class II antigen processing and presentation pathway may be instrumental in shaping the CD4+ T cell response directed against tumour cells. Efficient loading of many MHC class II alleles with peptides requires the assistance of H2-M, a heterodimeric MHC class II-like molecule. In contrast to the HLA-DM region in humans, the beta-chain locus is duplicated in mouse, with the H2-Mb1 (Mb1beta-chain distal to H2-Mb2 (Mb2) and the H2-Ma (Ma) alpha-chain gene). Here, we show that murine MHC class II and H2-M genes are coordinately regulated in murine tumour cell lines by T helper cell 1 (IFN-gamma) and T helper cell 2 (IL-4 or IL-10) cytokines in the presence of the MHC class II-specific transactivator CIITA as determined by mRNA expression and Western blot analysis. Furthermore, Malphabeta1 and Malphabeta2 heterodimers are differentially expressed in murine tumour cell lines of different histology. Both H2-M isoforms promote equally processing and presentation of native protein antigens to H2-A(d)- and H2-E(d)-restricted CD4+ T cells. Murine tumour cell lines could be divided into three groups: constitutive MHC class II and CIITA expression; inducible MHC class II and CIITA expression upon IFN-gamma-treatment; and lack of constitutive and IFN-gamma-inducible MHC class II and CIITA expression. These differences may impact on CD4+ T cell recognition of cancer cells in murine tumour models.
Copyright 2000 Cancer Research Campaign.