Biochemical and biophysical research communications

Cytokeratin 8-MHC class I interactions: a potential novel immune escape phenotype by a lymph node metastatic carcinoma cell line.

PMID 24183726


Defective human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I expression in malignant cells facilitates their escape from destruction by CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes. In this study, a post-translational mechanism of HLA class I abnormality that does not involve defects in the HLA subunits and antigen processing machinery components was identified and characterized. The marked HLA class I downregulation phenotype of a metastatic carcinoma cell line can be readily reversed by trypsin, suggesting a masking effect by serine protease-sensitive HLA class I-interacting factors. Co-immunoprecipitation, combined with LC-tandem mass spectrometry and immunoblotting identified these factors as cytokeratin (CK) 8 and its heterodimeric partners CK18 and CK19. Ectopic CK8/18 or CK8/19 expression in HEK293 cells resulted in surface CK8 expression with an HLA class I downregulation phenotype, while redirecting CK8/18 and CK8/19 to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) had no such effect. This observation and the failure to constrain CK8/18 and CK8/19 membrane trafficking by an ER-Golgi transport inhibitor suggested an ER-independent route for CK8 access to HLA class I molecules. Monoclonal antibody mapping revealed a potential CK8 blockade of HLA class I-CD8 and -TCR contacts. These findings, along with the emerging role of cell surface CK8 in cancer metastasis, may imply a dual strategy for tumor cell survival in the host.