Diversity of the fine specificity displayed by HLA-A*0201-restricted CTL specific for the immunodominant Melan-A/MART-1 antigenic peptide

J Immunol. 1998 Dec 15;161(12):6956-62.


HLA-A*0201 melanoma patients often develop a CTL response to an immunodominant peptide derived from the melanocyte lineage-specific protein Melan-A/MART-1. We have shown previously that the antigenic peptide most often involved is the decapeptide Melan-A(26-35) (EAAGIGILTV). We also observed some clonal diversity in the fine specificity of Melan-A-specific CTL. To substantiate this observation, we have now tested a series of Melan-A(26-35) variant peptides containing single alanine substitutions for binding to HLA-A*0201 and recognition by polyclonal and monoclonal Melan-A-specific CTL. Substitution of several residues with alanine reduced peptide binding activity by > 10-fold. In contrast, substitution of E26 with alanine (AAAGIGILTV) resulted in a 5-fold higher binding activity as well as in stronger stability of the corresponding HLA-A*0201/peptide complexes. Interestingly, the peptide variant AAAGIGILTV was recognized more efficiently than the natural decapeptide by short term cultured, tumor-infiltrated lymph node cell cultures and a number of Melan-A-specific CTL clones derived from different individuals. Moreover, this analysis revealed that the fine specificity of the CTL response to the Melan-A immunodominant epitope is quite diverse at the clonal level. At least three distinct patterns of fine specificity were identified. This diversity appears to reflect the diversity of the TCR repertoire available for this Ag, since similar results were obtained with a panel of Melan-A-specific CTL clones derived from a single melanoma patient. These findings have important implications for the formulation of Melan-A peptide-based vaccines as well as for the monitoring of Melan-A-specific CTL responses in melanoma patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / chemistry
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Rearrangement, T-Lymphocyte
  • HLA-A2 Antigen / genetics
  • HLA-A2 Antigen / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunodominant Epitopes / chemistry
  • Immunodominant Epitopes / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology
  • MART-1 Antigen
  • Melanoma / immunology*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / chemistry
  • Neoplasm Proteins / immunology*
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology*
  • Protein Binding
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • HLA-A2 Antigen
  • Immunodominant Epitopes
  • MART-1 Antigen
  • MLANA protein, human
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Peptide Fragments