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Distinct molecular mechanisms of altered HLA class II expression in malignant melanoma

: Meyer, Stefanie; Handke, Diana; Müller, Anja; Biehl, Katharina; Kreuz, Markus; Bukur, Jürgen; Koehl, Ulrike; Lazaridou, Maria-Filothei; Berneburg, Mark; Steven, André; Massa, Chiara; Seliger, Barbara

Volltext ()

Cancers 13 (2021), Nr.15, Art. 3907, 18 S.
ISSN: 2072-6694
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IZI ()
HLA class II; CIITA; methylation; signal transduction

Background: The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II molecules are constitutively expressed in some melanoma, but the underlying molecular mechanisms have not yet been characterized. Methods: The expression of HLA class II antigen processing machinery (APM) components was determined in melanoma samples by qPCR, Western blot, flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. Immunohistochemical and TCGA datasets were used for correlation of HLA class II expression to tumor grading, T-cell infiltration and patients’ survival. Results: The heterogeneous HLA class II expression in melanoma samples allowed us to characterize four distinct phenotypes. Phenotype I totally lacks constitutive HLA class II surface expression, which is inducible by interferon-gamma (IFN-γ); phenotype II expresses low basal surface HLA class II that is further upregulated by IFN-γ; phenotype III lacks constitutive and IFN-γ controlled HLA class II expression, but could be induced by epigenetic drugs; and in phenotype IV, lack of HLA class II expression is not recovered by any drug tested. High levels of HLA class II APM component expression were associated with an increased intra-tumoral CD4+ T-cell density and increased patients’ survival. Conclusions: The heterogeneous basal expression of HLA class II antigens and/or APM components in melanoma cells is caused by distinct molecular mechanisms and has clinical relevance.