Insulin-like growth factor-II mRNA binding protein 3 (IMP-3) is an oncofetal protein expressed in various malignancies including lung cancer. This study aimed to identify immunogenic peptides derived from IMP-3 that can induce tumor-reactive and human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A2 (A*02:01)-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) for lung cancer immunotherapy. Forty human IMP-3-derived peptides predicted to bind to HLA-A2 were analyzed to determine their capacity to induce HLA-A2-restricted T cells in HLA-A2.1 (HHD) transgenic mice (Tgm). We found that three IMP-3 peptides primed HLA-A2-restricted CTL in the HLA-A2.1 Tgm. Among them, human CTL lines reactive to IMP-3 (515) NLSSAEVVV(523) were reproducibly established from HLA-A2-positive healthy donors and lung cancer patients. On the other hand, IMP-3 (199) RLLVPTQFV(207) reproducibly induced IMP-3-specific and HLA-A2-restricted CTL from healthy donors, but did not sensitize CTL in the HLA-A2.1 Tgm. Importantly, these two IMP-3 peptide-specific CTL generated from healthy donors and cancer patients effectively killed the cancer cells naturally expressing both IMP-3 and HLA-A2. Cytotoxicity was significantly inhibited by anti-HLA class I and anti-HLA-A2 monoclonal antibodies, but not by the anti-HLA-class II monoclonal antibody. In addition, natural processing of these two epitopes derived from the IMP-3 protein was confirmed by specific killing of HLA-A2-positive IMP-3-transfectants but not the parental IMP-negative cell line by peptide-induced CTL. This suggests that these two IMP-3-derived peptides represent highly immunogenic CTL epitopes that may be attractive targets for lung cancer immunotherapy.
© 2010 Japanese Cancer Association.