Patients with relapsed hematological malignancies after HLA-matched hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) can be effectively treated with donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI). Donor-derived T cells mediate beneficial graft-versus-leukemia (GvL) effect but may also induce detrimental graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). These T cell responses are directed against polymorphic peptides which differ between patient and donor due to single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). These so called minor histocompatibility antigens (mHag) are presented by HLA class I or II, thereby activating CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, respectively. Although a broad range of different HLA class I restricted mHags have been identified, we only recently characterized the first autosomal HLA class II restricted mHag phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase type 2 beta (LB-PI4K2B-1S; PNAS, 2008, 105 (10), p.3837). As HLA class II is predominantly expressed on hematopoietic cells, CD4+ T cells may selectively confer GvL effect without GvHD. Here, we present the molecular identification of four new autosomal HLA class II restricted mHags recognized by CD4+ T cells induced in a patient with relapsed chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) after HLAmatched HSCT who experienced long-term complete remission after DLI with only mild GvHD of the skin. By sorting activated CD4+ T cells from bone marrow mononuclear cells obtained 5 weeks after DLI, 17 highly reactive mHag specific CD4+ T cell clones were isolated. Nine of these T cell clones recognized the previously described HLADQ restricted mHag LB-PI4K2B-1S. The eight remaining T cell clones were shown to exhibit five different new specificities. To determine the recognized T cell epitopes, we used our recently described recombinant bacteria cDNA library. This method proved to be extremely efficient, since four out of five different specificities could be identified as new HLA-class II restricted autosomal mHags. The newly identified mHags were restricted by different HLA-DR molecules of the patient. Two mHags were restricted by HLA-DRB1 and were found to be encoded by the methylene-tetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase 1 (LBMTHFD1- 1Q; DRB1*0301) and lymphocyte antigen 75 (LB-LY75-1K; DRB1*1301) genes. An HLA-DRB3*0101 restricted mHag was identified as LB-PTK2B-1T, which is encoded by the protein tyrosine kinase 2 beta gene. The fourth mHag LB-MR1-1R was restricted by HLA-DRB3*0202 and encoded by the major histocompatibility complex, class I related gene. All newly identified HLA class II restricted mHags exhibit high population frequencies of 25% (LB-MR1-1R), 33% (LB-LY75-1K), 68% (LB-MTHFD1- 1Q), and 70% (LB-PTK2B-1T) and the genes encoding these mHags show selective (LY- 75) or predominant (MR1, MTHFD1, PTK2B) expression in cells of hematopoietic origin as determined by public microarray databases. All T cell clones directed against the newly identified mHags recognized high HLA class II-expressing B-cells, mature dendritic cells (DC) and in vitro cultured leukemic cells with antigen-presenting phenotype. The clone recognizing LB-MTHFD1-1Q also showed direct recognition of CD34+ CML precursor cells from the patient. In conclusion, we molecularly characterized the specificity of the CD4+ T cell response in a patient with CML after HLA-matched HSCT who went into long-term complete remission after DLI. By screening a recombinant bacteria cDNA library, four new different CD4+ T cell specificities were characterized. Our screening method and results open the possibility to identify the role of CD4+ T cells in human GvL and GvHD, and to explore the use of hematopoiesis- and HLA class II-restricted mHag specific T cells in the treatment of hematological malignancies.

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