Purpose: C-Met proto-oncogene is a receptor tyrosine kinase that mediates the oncogenic activities of the hepatocyte growth factor. Using a DNA chip analysis of tumor samples from patients with renal cell carcinoma and sequencing of peptides bound to the HLA-A*0201 molecules on tumor cells a peptide derived from the c-Met protein was identified recently.
Experimental design: We used this novel HLA-A*0201 peptide for the induction of specific CTLs to analyze the presentation of this epitope by malignant cells.
Results: The induced CTL efficiently lysed target cells pulsed with the cognate peptide, as well as HLA-A*0201-matched tumor cell lines in an antigen-specific and HLA-restricted manner. Furthermore, the induced c-Met-specific CTLs recognized autologous dendritic cells (DCs) pulsed with the peptide or transfected with whole-tumor mRNA purified from c-Met-expressing cell lines. We next induced c-Met-specific CTLs using peripheral blood mononuclear cells and DC from an HLA-A*0201-positive patient with plasma cell leukemia to determine the recognition of primary autologous malignant cells. These CTLs lysed malignant plasma cells while sparing nonmalignant B- and T-lymphocytes, monocytes, and DCs.
Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that c-Met oncogene is a novel tumor rejection antigen recognized by CTL and expressed on a broad variety of epithelial and hematopoietic malignant cells.