The absence of invariant chain in MHC II cancer vaccines enhances the activation of tumor-reactive type 1 CD4+ T lymphocytes

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2008 Mar;57(3):389-98. doi: 10.1007/s00262-007-0381-5. Epub 2007 Aug 28.


Activation of tumor-reactive T lymphocytes is a promising approach for the prevention and treatment of patients with metastatic cancers. Strategies that activate CD8(+) T cells are particularly promising because of the cytotoxicity and specificity of CD8(+) T cells for tumor cells. Optimal CD8(+) T cell activity requires the co-activation of CD4(+) T cells, which are critical for immune memory and protection against latent metastatic disease. Therefore, we are developing "MHC II" vaccines that activate tumor-reactive CD4(+) T cells. MHC II vaccines are MHC class I(+) tumor cells that are transduced with costimulatory molecules and MHC II alleles syngeneic to the prospective recipient. Because the vaccine cells do not express the MHC II-associated invariant chain (Ii), we hypothesized that they will present endogenously synthesized tumor peptides that are not presented by professional Ii(+) antigen presenting cells (APC) and will therefore overcome tolerance to activate CD4(+) T cells. We now report that MHC II vaccines prepared from human MCF10 mammary carcinoma cells are more efficient than Ii(+) APC for priming and boosting Type 1 CD4(+) T cells. MHC II vaccines consistently induce greater expansion of CD4(+) T cells which secrete more IFNgamma and they activate an overlapping, but distinct repertoire of CD4(+) T cells as measured by T cell receptor Vbeta usage, compared to Ii(+) APC. Therefore, the absence of Ii facilitates a robust CD4(+) T cell response that includes the presentation of peptides that are presented by traditional APC, as well as peptides that are uniquely presented by the Ii(-) vaccine cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cancer Vaccines / genetics
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Flow Cytometry / methods
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / genetics
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / immunology


  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • invariant chain