Identification of an HLA-DPB1*0501 restricted Melan-A/MART-1 epitope recognized by CD4+ T lymphocytes: prevalence for immunotherapy in Asian populations

J Immunother. 2011 Sep;34(7):525-34. doi: 10.1097/CJI.0b013e318226bd45.


CD4 T lymphocytes play a central role in orchestrating an efficient antitumor immune response. Much effort has been devoted in the identification of major histocompatibility complex class II eptiopes from different tumor-associated antigens. Melan-A/MART-1 is expressed specifically in normal melanocytes and tumor cells of 75% to 100% of melanoma patients. Melan-A/MART-1 is considered as an attractive target for cancer immunotherapy. In the past, several human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II restricted epitopes have been identified and characterized, including Melan-A/MART-11-20 (HLA-DR11 restricted), Melan-A/MART-125-36 (HLA-DQ6 and HLA-DR3 restricted), Melan-A/MART-127-40 (HLA-DR1 restricted), Melan-A/MART-151-73 (HLA-DR4 restricted), Melan-A/MART-191-110 (HLA-DR52 restricted), and Melan-A/MART-1100-111 (HLA-DR1 restricted). Owing to the infrequent expression of the above HLA class II alleles in Asian populations, immunotherapy using these defined Melan-A/MART-1 peptides could potentially only benefit a very small percentage of Asian melanoma patients. In this study, we established several CD4 T-cell clones by in vitro stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from a healthy donor by a peptide pool of 28 to 30 amino acid long peptides spanning the entire Melan-A/MART-1 protein. These CD4 T-cell clones recognized a peptide that is embedded within Melan-A/MART-121-50, in a HLA-DPB1*0501 restricted manner. Finally, we demonstrated that this epitope is naturally processed and presented by dendritic cells. HLA-DPB1*0501 is frequently expressed in Asian population (44.9% to 73.1%). Therefore, this epitope could provide a new tool and could significantly increase the percentage of melanoma patients that can benefit from cancer immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology
  • Asian People
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • HLA-DP beta-Chains / immunology*
  • Histocompatibility Testing
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • MART-1 Antigen / biosynthesis*
  • MART-1 Antigen / immunology*
  • Melanocytes / metabolism
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Melanoma / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / metabolism


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • HLA-DP beta-Chains
  • HLA-DPB1*05:01 antigen
  • MART-1 Antigen