CD4+ regulatory T (Treg) cells play an important role in the maintenance of immunological self-tolerance by suppressing immune responses against autoimmune diseases and cancer. Yet very little is known about the natural antigenic ligands that preferentially activate CD4+ Treg cells. Here we report the establishment of tumor-specific CD4+ Treg cell clones from tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) of cancer patients, and the identification of an Ag recognized by Treg cells (ARTC1) gene encoding a peptide ligand recognized by tumor-specific TIL164 CD4+ Treg cells. The mutations in a gene encoding an ARTC1 in 164mel tumor cells resulted in the translation of a gene product containing the peptide ligand recognized by CD4+ Treg cells. ARTC1 peptide-activated CD4+ Treg cells suppress the physiological function (proliferation and IL-2 secretion) of melanoma-reactive T cells. Furthermore, 164mel tumor cells, but not tumor lysates pulsed on B cells, were capable of activating TIL164 CD4+ Treg cells. These results suggest that tumor cells may uniquely present an array of peptide ligands that preferentially recruit and activate CD4+ Treg cells in sites where tumor-specific self-peptide is expressed, leading to the induction of local and tumor-specific immune suppression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy