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The loss of class II MHC antigen expression byras-transformed murine fibroblasts passaged as tumours correlates with increased tumorigenicity but is not mediated by T cells

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Summary

In several murine tumour systems, expression of class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens by tumour cells, either constitutive or inducible, correlates with reduced tumorigenicity as compared with equivalent class-II-negative cells, and CD4 phenotype T cells together with interferon γ (which induces the expression of class II) may be involved in the control of the proliferation of class-II-expressing tumours. This implies a potential T-cell-mediated selection pressure against class II expression. To test this possibility, we have repeatedly passaged as tumours in euthymic, syngeneic miceras-transformed murine fibroblast lines, which are class-II-inducible, to determine whether class-II-non-inducible variants are selected. We examined the expression of both class I and class II antigen in tumour cells re-established in vitro. It was found that the inducibility of class II, but not class I, expression rapidly diminished, correlating with augmented tumorigenicity. However, this loss of class II inducibility occurred in athymic as well as euthymic mice. Therefore, despite the fact that the tumorigenicity of these lines is augmented in euthymic mice depleted of CD4 T cells or interferon γ, we found no evidence of T-cell-mediated selection against class II expression. The loss of class II expression observed must be due to mechanisms other than immune selection. The possibility that this might result from other soluble factors modulating the response to interferon γ in vivo is discussed.

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Correspondence to Wendy J. Bateman.

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Morris, A.G., Darley, R.L. & Bateman, W.J. The loss of class II MHC antigen expression byras-transformed murine fibroblasts passaged as tumours correlates with increased tumorigenicity but is not mediated by T cells. Cancer Immunol Immunother 35, 46–52 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01741054

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Key words

  • ras
  • MHC
  • interferon γ
  • Tumorigenicity
  • T cells