Message in a bottle: Role of the 70-kDa heat shock protein family in anti-tumor immunity

Authors

  • Stuart K. Calderwood,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Molecular and Cellular Radiation Oncology, BIDMC, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
    2. Center for the Molecular Stress Response, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, USA
    • 21–27 Burlington Avenue, Room 553B, Boston, MA 02215, USA, Fax: +1-617-632-0635
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  • Jimmy R. Theriault,

    1. Division of Molecular and Cellular Radiation Oncology, BIDMC, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
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  • Jianlin Gong

    1. Center for the Molecular Stress Response, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, USA
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Abstract

Extracellular heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) is a potent agent for tumor immunotherapy, which can break tolerance to tumor-associated antigens and cause specific tumor cell killing by cytotoxic CD8+ T cells. The pro-immune effects of extracellular HSP70 are, to some extent, extensions of its molecular properties as an intracellular stress protein. The HSP70 are characterized by massive inducibility after stress, preventing cell death by inhibiting aggregation of cell proteins and directly antagonizing multiple cell death pathways. HSP70 family members possess a domain in the C terminus that chaperones unfolded proteins and peptides, and a N-terminal ATPase domain that controls the opening and closing of the peptide binding domain. These properties not only enable intracellular HSP70 to inhibit tumor apoptosis, but also promote formation of stable complexes with cytoplasmic tumor antigens that can then escape intact from dying cells to interact with antigen-processing cells (APC) and stimulate anti-tumor immunity. HSP70 may be released from tumors undergoing therapy at high local extracellular concentrations, and send a danger signal to the host leading to APC activation. Extracellular HSP70 bind to high-affinity receptors on APC, leading to activation of maturation and re-presentation of the peptide antigen cargo of HSP70 by the APC. The ability of HSP70-peptide complexes (HSP70-PC) to break tolerance and cause tumor regression employs these dual properties as signaling ligand and antigen transporter. HSP70-PC thus coordinately activate innate immune responses and deliver antigens for re-presentation by MHC class I and II molecules on the APC cell surface, leading to specific anti-tumor immunity.

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