TAP-ing into TIEPPs for cancer immunotherapy

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Cancer immunotherapy in which cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) target tumor-specific antigens complexed to MHC-I molecules has been used successfully for several types of cancer; however, MHC-I is frequently downregulated in tumors, resulting in CTL evasion. Recently, it has been shown that MHC-Ilo tumors produce a set of T cell epitopes associated with impaired peptide processing (TEIPP) that have potential to be exploited for immunotherapy. TEIPP-specific CTLs recognize tumors defective in antigen presentation machinery (APM) but not those with intact APM. In this issue of the JCI, Doorduljn et al. evaluated thymus selection and peripheral behavior of TEIPP-specific T cells, using a unique T cell receptor (TCR) transgenic mouse model. They demonstrated that TEIPP-specific T cells in TAP-deficient mice have largely been deleted by central tolerance, while the same T cells in WT mice are naive and sustained. The results of this study suggest that TIEPPs have potential to be successful targets for elimination of MHC-Ilo tumors.

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