Elevation of c-MYC disrupts HLA class II-mediated immune recognition of human B cell tumors

Jason M. God, Christine Cameron, Janette Figueroa, Shereen Amria, Azim Hossain, Bettina Kempkes, Georg W. Bornkamm, Robert K. Stuart, Janice S. Blum, Azizul Haque

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20 Scopus citations


Elevated levels of the transcription factor c-myc are strongly associated with various cancers, and in particular B cell lymphomas. Although many of c-MYC's functions have been elucidated, its effect on the presentation of Ag through the HLA class II pathway has not been reported previously. This is an issue of considerable importance, given the low immunogenicity of many c-MYC - positive tumors. We report in this paper that increased c-MYC expression has a negative effect on the ability of B cell lymphomas to functionally present Ags/peptides to CD4+ T cells. This defect was associated with alterations in the expression of distinct cofactors as well as interactions of antigenic peptides with class II molecules required for the presentation of class II-peptide complexes and T cell engagement. Using early passage Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) tumors and transformed cells, we show that compared with B lymphoblasts, BL cells express decreased levels of the class II editor HLA-DM, lysosomal thiol-reductase GILT, and a 47-kDa enolase-like protein. Functional Ag presentation was partially restored in BL cells treated with a c-MYC inhibitor, demonstrating the impact of this oncogene on Ag recognition. This restoration of HLA class II-mediated Ag presentation in early passage BL tumors/cells was linked to enhanced HLA-DM expression and a concurrent decrease in HLA-DO in BL cells. Taken together, these results reveal c-MYC exerts suppressive effects at several critical checkpoints in Ag presentation, which contribute to the immunoevasive properties of BL tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1434-1445
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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    God, J. M., Cameron, C., Figueroa, J., Amria, S., Hossain, A., Kempkes, B., Bornkamm, G. W., Stuart, R. K., Blum, J. S., & Haque, A. (2015). Elevation of c-MYC disrupts HLA class II-mediated immune recognition of human B cell tumors. Journal of Immunology, 194(4), 1434-1445. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1402382