Immune recognition of cyclin B1 as a tumor antigen is a result of its overexpression in human tumors that is caused by non-functional p53

Mol Immunol. 2002 May;38(12-13):981-7. doi: 10.1016/s0161-5890(02)00026-3.


Cyclin B1, which plays a key role in the control of cell cycle progression from G(2) through M phase, was recently identified by us as a tumor antigen recognized by human T-cells. To understand what makes this normal molecule antigenic, we compared its expression in malignant versus normal cells. Immunohistology showed overexpression of cyclin B1 protein in tumors compared to surrounding normal tissue and localization in the cytoplasm rather than the nucleus. Cyclin B1 is overexpressed at protein and mRNA level in many tumor cell lines including breast, lung, colorectal carcinoma, lymphoma and leukemia. While overexpressed in tumor cells at all stages of the cell cycle, its expression still peaks at G(2)/M phase, as it does in normal cells. We compared cyclin B1 expression in two cell clones derived from the same colorectal tumor cell line, one wild type for p53 (HCT116p53(+/+)) and one with deleted p53 (HCT116p53(-/-)). HCT116p53(+/+) cells had undetectable (normal) level of cyclin B1 protein, while HCT116p53(-/-) cells showed overexpression. When reconstituted with p53, HCT116p53(-/-) cells reverted to normal cyclin B1 expression. We conclude that p53 plays an important role in cyclin B1 regulation and that tumors with mutated p53 will be good candidates for cyclin B1 based immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / biosynthesis*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclin B / biosynthesis*
  • Cyclin B / genetics
  • Cyclin B / immunology*
  • Cyclin B1
  • Gene Deletion
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • CCNB1 protein, human
  • Cyclin B
  • Cyclin B1
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53