Growing neoplasms employ various mechanisms to evade immunosurveillance. The expression of non-classical MHC class I molecules by both immune and malignant cells in the tumor microenvironment constitute of the strategies used by tumors to circumvent the cytotoxic activity of effector cells of the immune system. The overexpression of HLA-G, -E, and -F is a common finding across a variety of malignancies. However, while the presence of HLA-G and HLA-E has been recently correlated with poor clinical outcome, information on the clinicopathological significance of HLA-F is limited. In the present review, we summarize studies on non-classical MHC class I molecules with special emphasis on their role in the modulation of anticancer immune responses.
Keywords: NK cells; T cells; antigen presentation; cancer; immunomodulation; non-classical MHC class I molecules.