Fine structural variations of αβTCRs selected by vaccination with natural versus altered self-antigen in melanoma patients

Sébastien Wieckowski, Petra Baumgaertner, Patricia Corthesy, Verena Voelter, Pedro Romero, Daniel E. Speiser, Nathalie Rufer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Immunotherapy of cancer is often performed with altered "analog" peptide Ags optimized for HLA class I binding, resulting in enhanced immunogenicity, but the induced T cell responses require further evaluation. Recently, we demonstrated fine specificity differences and enhanced recognition of naturally presented Ag by T cells after vaccination with natural Melan-A/MART-1 peptide, as compared with analog peptide. In this study, we compared the TCR primary structures of 1489 HLA-A*0201/Melan-A 26-35-specific CD8 T cells derived from both cohorts of patients. Although a strong preference for TRAV12-2 segment usage was present in nearly all patients, usage of particular TRAJ gene segments and CDR3αcomposition differed slightly after vaccination with natural vs analog peptide. Moreover, TCR β-chain repertoires were broader after natural than analog peptide vaccination. In all patients, we observed a marked conservation of the CDR3β amino acid composition with recurrent sequences centered on a glycyl-leucyl/valyl/alanyl-glycyl motif. In contrast to viral-specific TCR repertoires, such "public" motifs were primarily expressed by nondominant T cell clonotypes, which contrasted with "private" CDR3β signatures frequently found in T cell clonotypes that dominated repertoires of individual patients. Interestingly, no differences in functional avidity were observed between public and private T cell clonotypes. Collectively, our data indicate that T cell repertoires generated against natural or analog Melan-A peptide exhibited slightly distinct but otherwise overlapping and structurally conserved TCR features, suggesting that the differences in binding affinity/avidity of TCRs toward pMHC observed in the two cohorts of patients are caused by subtle structural TCR variations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5397-5406
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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