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European journal of immunology

Hypoxia augments MHC class I antigen presentation via facilitation of ERO1-α-mediated oxidative folding in murine tumor cells.


PMID 27667124

Abstract

To establish an effective cancer immunotherapy, it is crucial that cancer cells present a cancer-specific antigen in a hypoxic area, a hallmark of the tumor microenvironment. Here, we show the impact of hypoxia on MHC class I antigen presentation in vitro and in vivo in murine tumors. Activation of antigen-specific CTLs by tumor cells that had been pre-incubated under a condition of hypoxia was enhanced compared with that by tumor cells pre-incubated under a condition of normoxia. Cell surface expression of MHC class I-peptide complex on the tumor cells was increased under a condition of hypoxia, thereby leading to higher susceptibility to specific CTLs. We show that the hypoxia-inducible ER-resident oxidase ERO1-α plays an important role in the hypoxia-induced augmentation of MHC class I-peptide complex expression. ERO1-α facilitated oxidative folding of MHC class I heavy chains, thereby resulting in the augmentation of cell surface expression of MHC class I-peptide complex under hypoxic conditions. These results suggest that since the expression of MHC class I-peptide complex is augmented in a hypoxic tumor microenvironment, strategies for inhibiting the function of regulatory T cells and myeloid-derived suppressor cells and/or immunotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors are promising for improving cancer immunotherapy.