In addition to direct and cross-presentation, dendritic cells (DCs) can present tumor antigens (TAs) to T cells via a hitherto poorly understood mechanism called "cross-dressing." DC cross-dressing involves the acquisition of preformed peptide-major histocompatibility class I/II (p-MHC) complexes from cancer cells. This process has been documented both in cell culture and in tumor models; may occur via the uptake of tumor-derived extracellular vesicles or the horizontal transfer of plasma membrane fragments from cancer cells to DCs; and can be enhanced through DC engineering for therapeutic applications. In some experimental contexts, DC cross-dressing may be essential for productive anti-tumor immunity, possibly owing to the fact that tumor-derived p-MHC complexes encompass the full repertoire of immunologically relevant TAs against which primed cytotoxic T cells can exert their tumoricidal activity.
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