Female-to-male hemopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) elicits T cell responses against male-specific minor histocompatibility (H-Y) Ags encoded by the Y chromosome. All previously identified H-Y Ags are encoded by conventional open reading frames, but we report in this study the identification of a novel H-Y Ag encoded in the 5′-untranslated region of the TMSB4Y gene. An HLA-A*3303-restricted CD8+ CTL clone was isolated from a male patient after an HSCT from his HLA-identical sister. Using a panel of cell lines carrying Y chromosome terminal deletions, a narrow region controlling the susceptibility of these target cells to CTL recognition was localized. Minigene transfection and epitope reconstitution assays identified an 11-mer peptide, EVLLRPGLHFR, designated TMSB4Y/A33, whose first amino acid was located 405 bp upstream of the TMSB4Y initiation codon. Analysis of the precursor frequency of CTL specific for recipient minor histocompatibility Ags in post-HSCT peripheral blood T cells revealed that a significant fraction of the total donor CTL response in this patient was directed against the TMSB4Y epitope. Tetramer analysis continued to detect TMSB4Y/A33-specific CD8+ T cells at least up to 700 days post-HSCT. This finding underscores the in vivo immunological relevance of minor histocompatibility Ags derived from unconventional open reading frame products.
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