Molecular mechanisms of MHC class I abnormalities and APM components in human tumors

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2008 Nov;57(11):1719-26. doi: 10.1007/s00262-008-0515-4. Epub 2008 Apr 12.


Tumor immune escape plays a critical role in cancer, but the mechanisms involved in this process have still to be defined. In the recent years, progress has been made in understanding how peptides presented by MHC class I molecules were generated, in particular which proteases are involved in this process and how intracellular pathways influence antigen presentation in professional antigen-presenting cells and in various types of malignancies. Different MHC class I abnormalities have been found in solid tumors of distinct origin, but also in hematopoietic diseases. These include structural alterations such as total, haplotype and allelic loss of the MHC class I heavy chain, deletions and point mutations, in particular in beta2-microglobulin and TAP1 as well as dysregulation of various components of the MHC class I antigen processing machinery (APM), which could occur at the epigenetic, transcriptional and posttranscriptional level. The lack or downmodulation of the expression of single or multiple components of the MHC class I antigen processing pathway may avoid the recognition of tumor cells by tumor-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes. This review will give an overview of the underlying molecular mechanisms of MHC class I abnormalities in human tumors of distinct histology, which also might have an impact on the design of T cell-based immunotherapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / genetics
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / immunology*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / pathology


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I