SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • HLA-E;
  • melanoma;
  • NK cells;
  • cDNA arrays;
  • melanocytes

Summary

Paired cultures of early-passage melanoma cells and melanocytes were established from metastatic lesions and the uninvolved skin of five patients. In this stringent autologous setting, cDNA profiling was used to analyze a subset of 1477 genes selected by the Gene Ontology term ‘immune response’. Human Leukocyte Antigen E (HLA-E) was ranked 19th among melanoma-overexpressed genes and was embedded in a transformation signature including its preferred peptide ligand donors HLA-A, HLA-B, HLA-C, and HLA-G. Mostly undetectable in normal skin and 39 nevi (including rare and atypical lesions), HLA-E was detected by immunohistochemistry in 17/30 (57%) and 32/48 (67%) primary and metastatic lesions, respectively. Accordingly, surface HLA-E was higher on melanoma cells than on melanocytes and protected the former (6/6 cell lines) from lysis by natural killer (NK) cells, functionally counteracting co-expressed triggering ligands. Although lacking HLA-E, melanocytes (4/4 cultures) were nevertheless (and surprisingly) fully protected from NK cell lysis.