Cellular immune responses to melanoma-associated Ags are the focus of ongoing studies aimed at developing immunotherapies for treatment of malignant melanoma. Melanoma predominantly affects Caucasians, a population in whom expression of HLA-A2 is prevalent. Among HLA-A2 subtypes, HLA-A*0201 is widely expressed, and HLA-A*0201-restricted, tumor-reactive CTL responses are well studied. We have observed in a group of melanoma patients an unexpectedly high frequency (approximately 20%) of non-HLA-A*0201 subtypes (*0202, *0204, and *0205), and little is known regarding antimelanoma response profiles in patients expressing such subtypes. We analyzed non-HLA-A*0201 peptide response profiles using HLA-A*0201-restricted epitopes from melanoma Ags MART-1/Melan A and glycoprotein 100. Most of these peptides bound to the majority of subtypes tested with 50% inhibitory concentrations less than 500 nM. Recognition of cells pulsed with different peptides (MART-1(27-35), G9(154), and G9(280) Flu M1(58-66)) and expressing different subtype molecules by HLA-A*0201-restricted CTL was limited to only a subset of non-HLA-A*0201 molecules, and the peptide/subtype complexes recognized varied among the effector populations tested. CTL responses elicited from PBL of patients and healthy donors expressing subtypes HLA-A*0202 and HLA-A*0205 suggested significant differences among HLA-A2 subtype function in the context of melanoma Ag presentation. These observations imply the necessity of subtyping patients considered for peptide-based protocols and highlight the need for further study of melanoma-directed cellular responses among patients expressing non-HLA-A*0201 subtypes.

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