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The antigenicity as well as the immunogenicity of tumor associated antigens (TAAs) may need to be potentiated in order to break the immunological tolerance. To this aim, heteroclitic peptides were designed introducing specific substitutions in the residue at position 4 (p4) binding to TCR. The effect of such modifications also on the affinity to the major histocompatibility class I (MHC-I) molecule was assessed. The Trp2 antigen, specific for the mouse melanoma B16F10 cells, as well as the HPV-E7 antigen, specific for the TC1 tumor cell lines, were used as models. Affinity of such heteroclitic peptides to HLA was predicted by bioinformatics tools and the most promising ones were validated by structural conformational and HLA binding analyses. Overall, we demonstrated that TAAs modified at the TCR-binding p4 residue are predicted to have higher affinity to MHC-I molecules. Experimental evaluation confirms the stronger binding, suggesting that this strategy may be very effective for designing new vaccines with improved antigenic efficacy.


Beatrice Cavalluzzo, Concetta Ragone, Angela Mauriello, Annacarmen Petrizzo, Carmen Manolio, Andrea Caporale, Luigi Vitagliano, Menotti Ruvo, Luigi Buonaguro, Maria Tagliamonte. Identification and characterization of heteroclitic peptides in TCR-binding positions with improved HLA-binding efficacy. Journal of translational medicine. 2021 Feb 26;19(1):89

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PMID: 33637105

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