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Increased expression of HSP70 by colon cancer cells is not always associated with access to the dendritic cell cross-presentation pathway


Dendritic cells (DCs) are highly specialized antigen-presenting cells endowed with the unique ability to not only present exogenous antigens upon exposure to MHC II, but also to cross-present these upon exposure to MHC I. This property was exploited to generate the tumor-specific CD8 cytotoxic lymphocyte (CTL) response in DCs-based cancer vaccine protocols. In this context, the source of tumor antigens remains a critical challenge. A crude tumor in the context of danger signals is believed to represent an efficient source of tumor antigens (TAs) for DCs loading. In our previous work, increased DCs cross-presentation of antigens from necrotic gastric carcinoma cells paralleled up-regulation of the heat shock protein hsp70. We studied the expression of hsp70 on primary colon carcinoma cells and its relevance in the cross-priming of anti-tumor CTL by tumor-loaded DCs. Hsp70 was expressed on all three of the tumors studied, but was never detected in the peritumoral normal mucosa (NM). The uptake of the tumor induced a trend towards down-modulation of the monocyte-specific marker CD14, but had no effect on the chemokine receptors CCR4 and CCR7. The IFN-γ enzyme-linked immunospot assay (ELIspot) showed cross-priming of CTL by tumor-loaded but not NM-loaded DCs in four of the six cases studied. The CTL response generated in DC+tumor cultures was directed towards the tumor, but not towards NM, and it was characterized by refractoriness to polyclonal (Ca ionophores, PKC activators) stimuli. Of the three CTL-generating tumors, only one expressed hsp70. This data indicates a tumor-specific expression of hsp70, but does not support its relevance in the DC cross-presentation of TAs.





American Joint Committee on Cancer


antigen-presenting cell


chemokines receptor


cluster of differentiation 4


cluster of 8


cytotoxic T lymphocyte


dendritic cell




enzyme linked immunospot

HSP differentiation:

heat shock protein






major histocompatibility complex


normal mucosa


peripheral blood mononuclear cell

RIPA buffer:

radioimmunoprecipitation buffer


tumor associated antigen


tumor necrosis factor


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Correspondence to Lina Matera.

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Matera, L., Forno, S., Galetto, A. et al. Increased expression of HSP70 by colon cancer cells is not always associated with access to the dendritic cell cross-presentation pathway. Cell Mol Biol Lett 12, 268–279 (2007).

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Key words

  • Dendritic cells
  • Cytotoxic T lymphocyte
  • Colon cancer
  • Necrosis
  • Heat shock proteins