Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules can function as specific target antigens in T-cell-mediated cytotoxity. In addition, T cells can kill target cells through non-MHC antigens, for example, virally infected cells, if the target and effector cells express the same MHC class I antigens. Consequently, quantitative and/or qualitative variations in the expression of the H-2/HLA antigens on the target cells could interfere with MHC-restricted immune reactions. We have reported that the AKR leukaemia cell line K36.16, a subline of K36 (ref. 3), on which the H-2Kk antigen cannot be detected, is resistant to T-cell lysis and grows very easily in AKR mice. Other AKR tumour cell lines, like 369, which have a relatively large amount of H-2Kk on their surface, are easily killed by T cells in vitro and require a much larger inoculum to grow in vivo. Monoclonal antibodies against H-2Kk, but not against H-2Dk, prevented the killing by T cells. This suggests that some tumour cells grow in vivo because tumour-associated antigen(s) cannot be recognized efficiently by the host's immune system, due to the absence of MHC molecules which would function as restriction elements for T-cell cytotoxicity. We have tested this hypothesis by introducing the H-2Kk gene into the H-2Kk-deficient AKR tumour cell line K36.16 and have now demonstrated directly the biological relevance of H-2Kk antigen expression in the regulation of the in vivo growth of this tumour cell line.

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Nature: international weekly journal of science
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Hui, K. M., Grosveld, F., & Festenstein, H. (1984). Rejection of transplantable AKR leukaemia following MHC DNA-mediated cell transformation. Nature: international weekly journal of science, 311, 750–752. Retrieved from