Association of HER2/neu expression with sensitivity to tumor-specific CTL in human ovarian cancer

Ichiro Yoshino, George E. Peoples, Peter S. Goedegebuure, Richard Maziarz, Timothy J. Eberlein

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82 Scopus citations


To study potential sources of tumor-associated Ags in human ovarian cancer, we have established two ovarian tumor cell lines (OvS1 and OvA2) from two ovarian cancer patients, which express the cellular oncogene HER2/neu. Corresponding tumor infiltrating lymphocyte cultures have also been established and display an autologous tumor-specific pattern of cytotoxicity that is HLA-A2 restricted. To determine the potential relationship between HER2/neu expression and CTL-mediated cytolysis, we first established tumor cell clones from OvS1. These were categorized as high or low expressors of HER2/neu (cOvS1+ or cOVS1-, respectively), and cOvS1+ clones displayed a significantly higher sensitivity to CTL killing as compared with cOvS1- clones. To modulate the expression of HER2/neu, ovarian cancer cells were treated with IFN-γ. After this exposure, HER2/neu expression was significantly decreased, whereas the expression of HLA Class I was significantly increased. Despite the increase in HLA Class I molecules on the cell surface, CTL-mediated cytolysis of both OvS1 and OvA2 was significantly decreased. IFN-γ treated cOvS1+ clones displayed a similar decrease in sensitivity to CTL killing, whereas IFN-γ treated cOvS1- clones displayed an increase or no change in sensitivity to CTL. To confirm this apparent association between HER2/neu expression and CTL recognition, melanoma tumor cell lines that were insensitive to ovarian tumor-specific CTL were transfected with the HER2/neu gene. An HLA-A2+ HER2/neu-transfected melanoma cell line was made sensitive to HLA-A2 restricted ovarian tumor-specific CTL but not to HLA-A2 unrestricted CTL, whereas an HLA-A2- HER2/neu-transfected melanoma remained insensitive to HLA-A2 restricted CTL. These results demonstrate that the sensitivity of ovarian epithelial tumor cells to CTL- mediated lysis is associated with the level of expression of HER2/neu, suggesting that this oncogene product may serve as a source of tumor- associated Ags or as an inducer of such peptides. This is the first time in a human tumor system that oncogene expression has been related to the induction of antigenicity. These results prompt us to approach new strategies for immunotherapy of cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2393-2400
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 1994


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