Gene Summary

Gene:CIITA; class II major histocompatibility complex transactivator
Summary:This gene encodes a protein with an acidic transcriptional activation domain, 4 LRRs (leucine-rich repeats) and a GTP binding domain. The protein is located in the nucleus and acts as a positive regulator of class II major histocompatibility complex gene transcription, and is referred to as the "master control factor" for the expression of these genes. The protein also binds GTP and uses GTP binding to facilitate its own transport into the nucleus. Once in the nucleus it does not bind DNA but rather uses an intrinsic acetyltransferase (AT) activity to act in a coactivator-like fashion. Mutations in this gene have been associated with bare lymphocyte syndrome type II (also known as hereditary MHC class II deficiency or HLA class II-deficient combined immunodeficiency), increased susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and possibly myocardial infarction. Several transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Nov 2013]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:MHC class II transactivator
Source:NCBIAccessed: 31 August, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (23)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
Show (1)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 31 August 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Genes, MHC Class II
  • Transcription
  • Base Sequence
  • U937 Cells
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Uvea
  • Chromosome 16
  • Melanoma
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Homologous Transplantat
  • Epigenetics
  • STAT1 Transcription Factor
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Gene Expression
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • DNA Methylation
  • Mutation
  • Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • DNA Sequence Analysis
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Messenger RNA
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • HLA-D Antigens
  • Promoter Regions
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Transformation, Genetic
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Sarcoma, Experimental
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Signal Transduction
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transfection
  • Up-Regulation
  • Translocation
  • Transcription Factors
Tag cloud generated 31 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (2)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: CIITA (cancer-related)

Toffalori C, Zito L, Gambacorta V, et al.
Immune signature drives leukemia escape and relapse after hematopoietic cell transplantation.
Nat Med. 2019; 25(4):603-611 [PubMed] Related Publications
Transplantation of hematopoietic cells from a healthy individual (allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT)) demonstrates that adoptive immunotherapy can cure blood cancers: still, post-transplantation relapses remain frequent. To explain their drivers, we analyzed the genomic and gene expression profiles of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) blasts purified from patients at serial time-points during their disease history. We identified a transcriptional signature specific for post-transplantation relapses and highly enriched in immune-related processes, including T cell costimulation and antigen presentation. In two independent patient cohorts we confirmed the deregulation of multiple costimulatory ligands on AML blasts at post-transplantation relapse (PD-L1, B7-H3, CD80, PVRL2), mirrored by concomitant changes in circulating donor T cells. Likewise, we documented the frequent loss of surface expression of HLA-DR, -DQ and -DP on leukemia cells, due to downregulation of the HLA class II regulator CIITA. We show that loss of HLA class II expression and upregulation of inhibitory checkpoint molecules represent alternative modalities to abolish AML recognition from donor-derived T cells, and can be counteracted by interferon-γ or checkpoint blockade, respectively. Our results demonstrate that the deregulation of pathways involved in T cell-mediated allorecognition is a distinctive feature and driver of AML relapses after allo-HCT, which can be rapidly translated into personalized therapies.

Vijayan S, Sidiq T, Yousuf S, et al.
Class I transactivator, NLRC5: a central player in the MHC class I pathway and cancer immune surveillance.
Immunogenetics. 2019; 71(3):273-282 [PubMed] Related Publications
Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and class II molecules play critical roles in the activation of the adaptive immune system by presenting antigens to CD8+ and CD4+ T cells, respectively. Although it has been well known that CIITA (MHC class II transactivator), an NLR (nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich-repeat containing) protein, as a master regulator of MHC class II gene expression, the mechanism of MHC class I gene transactivation was unclear. Recently, another NLR protein, NLRC5 (NLR family, CARD domain-containing 5), was identified as an MHC class I transactivator (CITA). NLRC5 is a critical regulator for the transcriptional activation of MHC class I genes and other genes involved in the MHC class I antigen presentation pathway. CITA/NLRC5 plays a crucial role in human cancer immunity through the recruitment and activation of tumor killing CD8+ T cells. Here, we discuss the molecular function and mechanism of CITA/NLRC5 in the MHC class I pathway and its role in cancer.

Florea ID, Karaoulani C
Epigenetic Changes of the Immune System with Role in Tumor Development.
Methods Mol Biol. 2018; 1856:203-218 [PubMed] Related Publications
Tumor development is closely related to chronic inflammation and to evasion of immune defense mechanisms by neoplastic cells. The mediators of the inflammatory process as well as proteins involved in immune response or immune response evasion can be subject to various epigenetic changes such as methylation, acetylation, or phosphorylation. Some of these, such as cytokine suppressors, are undergoing repression through epigenetic changes, and others such as cytokines or chemokines are undergoing activation through epigenetic changes, both modifications having as a result tumor progression. The activating changes can affect the receptor molecules involved in immune response and these promote inflammation and subsequently tumor development while the inactivating changes seem to be related to the tumor regression process. The proteins involved in antigen presentation, and, therefore in immune response escape, such as classical HLA proteins and related APM (antigen presentation machinery) with their epigenetic changes contribute to the tumor development process, either to tumor progression or regression, depending on the immune effector cells that are in play.

Twa DDW, Mottok A, Savage KJ, Steidl C
The pathobiology of primary testicular diffuse large B-cell lymphoma: Implications for novel therapies.
Blood Rev. 2018; 32(3):249-255 [PubMed] Related Publications
Primary testicular lymphomas (PTL) are the most prevalent type of testicular cancer arising in men over the age of 60. PTL accounts for approximately 1-2% of all non-Hodgkin lymphomas and most present with localized disease but despite this, outcome is poor. The majority of cases represent an extranodal manifestation of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), known as primary testicular DLBCL (PT-DLBCL). Gene expression profiling has established that over 75% of PT-DLBCLs resemble the activated B-cell-like (ABC) or non-germinal center subtype of nodal DLBCL. In distilling the specific mutational landscape and immunophenotypic profiles, immune-escape and sustained signalling emerge as prominent features of PT-DLBCL. These include genomic alterations arising within the core components of antigen presentation (CIITA, B2M, and HLA loci) and structural rearrangements of programmed death ligands 1 (CD274) and 2 (PDCD1LG2). Enrichment for somatic mutations within NF-κB pathway genes (MYD88, CD79B, NFKBIZ, BCL10, and MALT1) also feature prominently in PT-DLBCL. Taken together, the unique molecular and clinical characteristics of PT-DLBCL have informed on aspects of the distinct disease biology of this organotypic lymphoma that may guide rational therapeutic strategies.

Yang JB, Zhao ZB, Liu QZ, et al.
FoxO1 is a regulator of MHC-II expression and anti-tumor effect of tumor-associated macrophages.
Oncogene. 2018; 37(9):1192-1204 [PubMed] Related Publications
Macrophages are a critical component in host immune responses against tumor. In this work we investigated the role of forkhead box O1 (FoxO1) in the transcriptional regulation in macrophages, which affects the anti-tumor functions of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). First, we showed that TAMs expressed reduced levels of FoxO1, which was associated with their protumoral M2 polarization state. The suppression of FoxO1 expression in TAM was induced by the hypoxic condition in the tumor microenviroment. Next, we confirmed that FoxO1 positively regulates MHC-II genes by binding to the promoter region of Ciita gene, the master activator of multiple MHC-II genes. Loss of FoxO1 in TAMs resulted in reduced MHC-II expression. Furthermore, we used FoxO1 conditional knockout mice to show that FoxO1 deficiency in myeloid cells exacerbates tumor growth. These results demonstrate that the protumoral property of TAMs is induced by the hypoxia-triggered FoxO1 deficiency, which could be a potential target of novel anti-tumor therapies.

Briere D, Sudhakar N, Woods DM, et al.
The class I/IV HDAC inhibitor mocetinostat increases tumor antigen presentation, decreases immune suppressive cell types and augments checkpoint inhibitor therapy.
Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2018; 67(3):381-392 [PubMed] Related Publications
Checkpoint inhibitor therapy has led to major treatment advances for several cancers including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Despite this, a significant percentage of patients do not respond or develop resistance. Potential mechanisms of resistance include lack of expression of programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1), decreased capacity to present tumor antigens, and the presence of an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Mocetinostat is a spectrum-selective inhibitor of class I/IV histone deacetylases (HDACs), a family of proteins implicated in epigenetic silencing of immune regulatory genes in tumor and immune cells. Mocetinostat upregulated PD-L1 and antigen presentation genes including class I and II human leukocyte antigen (HLA) family members in a panel of NSCLC cell lines in vitro. Mocetinostat target gene promoters were occupied by a class I HDAC and exhibited increased active histone marks after mocetinostat treatment. Mocetinostat synergized with interferon γ (IFN-γ) in regulating class II transactivator (CIITA), a master regulator of class II HLA gene expression. In a syngeneic tumor model, mocetinostat decreased intratumoral T-regulatory cells (Tregs) and potentially myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MDSC) populations and increased intratumoral CD8+ populations. In ex vivo assays, patient-derived, mocetinostat-treated Tregs also showed significant down regulation of FOXP3 and HELIOS. The combination of mocetinostat and a murine PD-L1 antibody antagonist demonstrated increased anti-tumor activity compared to either therapy alone in two syngeneic tumor models. Together, these data provide evidence that mocetinostat modulates immune-related genes in tumor cells as well as immune cell types in the tumor microenvironment and enhances checkpoint inhibitor therapy.

van Tuyn J, Jaber-Hijazi F, MacKenzie D, et al.
Oncogene-Expressing Senescent Melanocytes Up-Regulate MHC Class II, a Candidate Melanoma Suppressor Function.
J Invest Dermatol. 2017; 137(10):2197-2207 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
On acquisition of an oncogenic mutation, primary human and mouse cells can enter oncogene-induced senescence (OIS). OIS is characterized by a stable proliferation arrest and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, the senescence-associated secretory phenotype. Proliferation arrest and the senescence-associated secretory phenotype collaborate to enact tumor suppression, the former by blocking cell proliferation and the latter by recruiting immune cells to clear damaged cells. However, the interactions of OIS cells with the immune system are still poorly defined. Here, we show that engagement of OIS in primary human melanocytes, specifically by melanoma driver mutations NRASQ61K and BRAFV600E, causes expression of the major histocompatibility class II antigen presentation apparatus, via secreted IL-1ß signaling and expression of CIITA, a master regulator of major histocompatibility class II gene transcription. In vitro, OIS melanocytes activate T-cell proliferation. In vivo, nonproliferating oncogene-expressing melanocytes localize to skin-draining lymph nodes, where they induce T-cell proliferation and an antigen presentation gene expression signature. In patients, expression of major histocompatibility class II in melanoma is linked to favorable disease outcome. We propose that OIS in melanocytes is accompanied by an antigen presentation phenotype, likely to promote tumor suppression via activation of the adaptive immune system.

Turner TB, Meza-Perez S, Londoño A, et al.
Epigenetic modifiers upregulate MHC II and impede ovarian cancer tumor growth.
Oncotarget. 2017; 8(27):44159-44170 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Expression of MHC class II pathway proteins in ovarian cancer correlates with prolonged survival. Murine and human ovarian cancer cells were treated with epigenetic modulators - histone deacetylase inhibitors and a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor. mRNA and protein expression of the MHC II pathway were evaluated by qPCR and flow cytometry. Treatment with entinostat and azacytidine of ID8 cells in vitro increased mRNA levels of Cd74, Ciita, and H2-Aa, H2-Eb1. MHC II and CD74 protein expression were increased after treatment with either agent. A dose dependent response in mRNA and protein expression was seen with entinostat. Combination treatment showed higher MHC II protein expression than with single agent treatment. In patient derived xenografts, CIITA, CD74, and MHC II mRNA transcripts were significantly increased after combination treatment. Expression of MHC II on ovarian tumors in MISIIR-Tag mice was increased with both agents relative to control. Combination treatment significantly reduced ID8 tumor growth in immune-competent mice. Epigenetic treatment increases expression of MHC II on ovarian cancer cells and impedes tumor growth. This approach warrants further study in ovarian cancer patients.

Mareschal S, Pham-Ledard A, Viailly PJ, et al.
Identification of Somatic Mutations in Primary Cutaneous Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, Leg Type by Massive Parallel Sequencing.
J Invest Dermatol. 2017; 137(9):1984-1994 [PubMed] Related Publications
To determine whether the mutational profile of primary cutaneous diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, leg type (PCLBCL-LT) is unique by comparison with other diffuse large B-cell lymphoma subtypes, we analyzed a total cohort of 20 PCLBCL-LT patients by using next-generation sequencing with a lymphoma panel designed for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. We also analyzed 12 pairs of tumor and control DNA samples by whole-exome sequencing, which led us to perform resequencing of three selected genes not included in the lymphoma panel: TBL1XR1, KLHL6, and IKZF3. Our study clearly identifies an original mutational landscape of PCLBCL-LT with a very restricted set of highly recurrent mutations (>40%) involving MYD88 (p.L265P variant), PIM1, and CD79B. Other genes involved in B-cell signaling, NF-κB activation, or DNA modeling were found altered, notably TBL1XR1 (33%), MYC (26%) CREBBP (26%), and IRF4 (21%) or HIST1H1E (41%). MYD88

Chang YS, Huang HD, Yeh KT, Chang JG
Identification of novel mutations in endometrial cancer patients by whole-exome sequencing.
Int J Oncol. 2017; 50(5):1778-1784 [PubMed] Related Publications
The aim of the present study was to identify genomic alterations in Taiwanese endometrial cancer patients. This information is vitally important in Taiwan, where endometrial cancer is the second most common gynecological cancer. We performed whole-exome sequencing on DNA from 14 tumor tissue samples from Taiwanese endometrial cancer patients. We used the Genome Analysis Tool kit software package for data analysis, and the dbSNP, Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer (COSMIC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) databases for comparisons. Variants were validated via Sanger sequencing. We identified 143 non-synonymous mutations in 756 canonical cancer-related genes and 1,271 non-synonymous mutations in non-canonical cancer-related genes in 14 endometrial samples. PTEN, KRAS and PIK3R1 were the most frequently mutated canonical cancer-related genes. Our results revealed nine potential driver genes (MAPT, IL24, MCM6, TSC1, BIRC2, CIITA, DST, CASP8 and NOTCH2) and 21 potential passenger genes (ARMCX4, IGSF10, VPS13C, DCT, DNAH14, TLN1, ZNF605, ZSCAN29, MOCOS, CMYA5, PCDH17, UGT1A8, CYFIP2, MACF1, NUDT5, JAKMIP1, PCDHGB4, FAM178A, SNX6, IMP4 and PCMTD1). The detected molecular aberrations led to putative activation of the mTOR, Wnt, MAPK, VEGF and ErbB pathways, as well as aberrant DNA repair, cell cycle control and apoptosis pathways. We characterized the mutational landscape and genetic alterations in multiple cellular pathways of endometrial cancer in the Taiwanese population.

Chelbi ST, Dang AT, Guarda G
Emerging Major Histocompatibility Complex Class I-Related Functions of NLRC5.
Adv Immunol. 2017; 133:89-119 [PubMed] Related Publications
Recent evidence demonstrates a key role for the nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptor (NLR) family member NLRC5 (NLR family, CARD domain containing protein 5) in the transcriptional regulation of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and related genes. Detailed information on NLRC5 target genes in various cell types and conditions is emerging. Thanks to its analogy to CIITA (class II major MHC transactivator), a NLR family member known for over 20 years to be the master regulator of MHC class II gene transcription, also the molecular mechanisms underlying NLRC5 function are being rapidly unraveled. MHC class I molecules are crucial in regulating innate and adaptive cytotoxic responses. Whereas CD8

Tarafdar A, Hopcroft LE, Gallipoli P, et al.
CML cells actively evade host immune surveillance through cytokine-mediated downregulation of MHC-II expression.
Blood. 2017; 129(2):199-208 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Targeting the fusion oncoprotein BCR-ABL with tyrosine kinase inhibitors has significantly affected chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) treatment, transforming the life expectancy of patients; however the risk for relapse remains, due to persistence of leukemic stem cells (LSCs). Therefore it is imperative to explore the mechanisms that result in LSC survival and develop new therapeutic approaches. We now show that major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-II and its master regulator class II transactivator (CIITA) are downregulated in CML compared with non-CML stem/progenitor cells in a BCR-ABL kinase-independent manner. Interferon γ (IFN-γ) stimulation resulted in an upregulation of CIITA and MHC-II in CML stem/progenitor cells; however, the extent of IFN-γ-induced MHC-II upregulation was significantly lower than when compared with non-CML CD34

van Essen TH, van Pelt SI, Bronkhorst IH, et al.
Upregulation of HLA Expression in Primary Uveal Melanoma by Infiltrating Leukocytes.
PLoS One. 2016; 11(10):e0164292 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Uveal melanoma (UM) with an inflammatory phenotype, characterized by infiltrating leukocytes and increased human leukocyte antigen (HLA) expression, carry an increased risk of death due to metastases. These tumors should be ideal for T-cell based therapies, yet it is not clear why prognostically-infaust tumors have a high HLA expression. We set out to determine whether the level of HLA molecules in UM is associated with other genetic factors, HLA transcriptional regulators, or microenvironmental factors.
METHODS: 28 enucleated UM were used to study HLA class I and II expression, and several regulators of HLA by immunohistochemistry, PCR microarray, qPCR and chromosome SNP-array. Fresh tumor samples of eight primary UM and four metastases were compared to their corresponding xenograft in SCID mice, using a PCR microarray and SNP array.
RESULTS: Increased expression levels of HLA class I and II showed no dosage effect of chromosome 6p, but, as expected, were associated with monosomy of chromosome 3. Increased HLA class I and II protein levels were positively associated with their gene expression and with raised levels of the peptide-loading gene TAP1, and HLA transcriptional regulators IRF1, IRF8, CIITA, and NLRC5, revealing a higher transcriptional activity in prognostically-bad tumors. Implantation of fresh human tumor samples into SCID mice led to a loss of infiltrating leukocytes, and to a decreased expression of HLA class I and II genes, and their regulators.
CONCLUSION: Our data provides evidence for a proper functioning HLA regulatory system in UM, offering a target for T-cell based therapies.

Okada K, Hakata S, Terashima J, et al.
Combination of the histone deacetylase inhibitor depsipeptide and 5-fluorouracil upregulates major histocompatibility complex class II and p21 genes and activates caspase-3/7 in human colon cancer HCT-116 cells.
Oncol Rep. 2016; 36(4):1875-85 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Epigenetic anticancer drugs such as histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors have been combined with existing anticancer drugs for synergistic or additive effects. In the present study, we found that a very low concentration of depsipeptide, an HDAC inhibitor, potentiated the antitumor activity of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) in a human colon cancer cell model using HCT-116, HT29, and SW48 cells via the inhibition of colony formation ability or cellular viability. Exposure to a combination of 5-FU (1.75 µM) and 1 nM depsipeptide for 24 and 48 h resulted in a 3- to 4-fold increase in activated caspase-3/7, while 5-FU alone failed to activate caspase-3/7. Microarray and subsequent gene ontology analyses revealed that compared to 5-FU or depsipeptide alone, the combination treatment of 5-FU and depsipeptide upregulated genes related to cell death and the apoptotic process consistent with the inhibition of colony formation and caspase-3/7 activation. These analyses indicated marked upregulation of antigen processing and presentation of peptide or polysaccharide antigen via major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class (GO:0002504) and MHC protein complex (GO:0042611). Compared with vehicle controls, the cells treated with the combination of 5-FU and depsipeptide showed marked induction (3- to 8.5-fold) of expression of MHC class II genes, but not of MHC class I genes. Furthermore, our global analysis of gene expression, which was focused on genes involved in the molecular regulation of MHC class II genes, showed enhancement of pro-apoptotic PCAF and CIITA after the combination of 5-FU and depsipeptide. These results may indicate a closer relationship between elevation of MHC class II expression and cellular apoptosis induced by the combination of depsipeptide and 5-FU. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to report that the combination of 5-FU and depsipeptide induces human colon cancer cell apoptosis in a concerted manner with the induction of MHC class II gene expression.

Cui Q, Feng QS, Mo HY, et al.
An extended genome-wide association study identifies novel susceptibility loci for nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
Hum Mol Genet. 2016; 25(16):3626-3634 [PubMed] Related Publications
To further identify novel susceptibility loci of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), we here extended our previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) by boosting statistical power with larger sample size and validating more SNPs in the ranking list based on the GWAS P-values. The discovery stage consisting of 463,250 SNPs in 1,583 cases and 2,979 controls of southern Chinese ancestry revealed 1,257 top SNPs to be associated with NPC, which were brought forward for validation in 1,925 cases and 1,947 controls of southern Chinese. Further, 11 SNPs were selected for another independent validation in 3,538 cases and 3,644 controls of southern Chinese. The joint analysis with 7,046 cases and 8,570 controls resulted in two associations surpassing genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10

Pitt SC, Hernandez RA, Nehs MA, et al.
Identification of Novel Oncogenic Mutations in Thyroid Cancer.
J Am Coll Surg. 2016; 222(6):1036-1043.e2 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Thyroid cancer patients frequently have favorable outcomes. However, a small subset develops aggressive disease refractory to traditional treatments. Therefore, we sought to characterize oncogenic mutations in thyroid cancers to identify novel therapeutic targets that may benefit patients with advanced, refractory disease.
STUDY DESIGN: Data on 239 thyroid cancer specimens collected between January 2009 and September 2014 were obtained from the Dana Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center. The tumors were analyzed with the OncoMap-4 or OncoPanel high-throughput genotyping platforms that survey up to 275 cancer genes and 91 introns for DNA rearrangement.
RESULTS: Of the 239 thyroid cancer specimens, 128 (54%) had oncogenic mutations detected. These 128 tumors had 351 different mutations detected in 129 oncogenes or tumor suppressors. Examination of the 128 specimens demonstrated that 55% (n = 70) had 1 oncogenic mutation, and 45% (n = 48) had more than 1 mutation. The 351 oncogenic mutations were in papillary (85%), follicular (4%), medullary (7%), and anaplastic (4%) thyroid cancers. Analysis revealed that 2.3% (n = 3 genes) of the somatic gene mutations were novel. These included AR (n = 1), MPL (n = 2), and EXT2 (n = 1), which were present in 4 different papillary thyroid cancer specimens. New mutations were found in an additional 13 genes known to have altered protein expression in thyroid cancer: BLM, CBL, CIITA, EP300, GSTM5, LMO2, PRAME, SBDS, SF1, TET2, TNFAIP3, XPO1, and ZRSR2.
CONCLUSIONS: This analysis revealed that several previously unreported oncogenic gene mutations exist in thyroid cancers and may be targets for the development of future therapies. Further investigation into the role of these genes is warranted.

Van Roosbroeck K, Ferreiro JF, Tousseyn T, et al.
Genomic alterations of the JAK2 and PDL loci occur in a broad spectrum of lymphoid malignancies.
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2016; 55(5):428-41 [PubMed] Related Publications
The recurrent 9p24.1 aberrations in lymphoid malignancies potentially involving four cancer-related and druggable genes (JAK2, CD274/PDL1, PDCD1LG2/PDL2, and KDM4C/JMJD2Cl) are incompletely characterized. To gain more insight into the anatomy of these abnormalities, at first we studied 9p24.1 alterations in 18 leukemia/lymphoma cases using cytogenetic and molecular techniques. The aberrations comprised structural (nine cases) and numerical (nine cases) alterations. The former lesions were heterogeneous but shared a common breakpoint region of 200 kb downstream of JAK2. The rearrangements predominantly targeted the PDL locus. We have identified five potential partner genes of PDL1/2: PHACTR4 (1p34), N4BP2 (4p14), EEF1A1 (6q13), JAK2 (9p24.1), and IGL (22q11). Interestingly, the cryptic JAK2-PDL1 rearrangement was generated by a microdeletion spanning the 3'JAK2-5'PDL1 region. JAK2 was additionally involved in a cytogenetically cryptic IGH-mediated t(9;14)(p24.1;q32) found in two patients. This rare but likely underestimated rearrangement highlights the essential role of JAK2 in B-cell neoplasms. Cases with amplification of 9p24.1 were diagnosed as primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma (five cases) and T-cell lymphoma (four cases). The smallest amplified 9p24.1 region was restricted to the JAK2-PDL1/2-RANBP6 interval. In the next step, we screened 200 cases of classical Hodgkin lymphoma by interphase FISH and identified PDL1/2 rearrangement (CIITA- and IGH-negative) in four cases (2%), what is a novel finding. Forty (25%) cases revealed high level amplification of 9p24.1, including four cases with a selective amplification of PDL1/2. Altogether, the majority of 9p24.1 rearrangements occurring in lymphoid malignancies seem to target the programmed death-1 ligands, what potentiates the therapeutic activity of PD-1 blockade in these tumors. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Dai H, Ehrentraut S, Nagel S, et al.
Genomic Landscape of Primary Mediastinal B-Cell Lymphoma Cell Lines.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(11):e0139663 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Primary mediastinal B-Cell lymphoma (PMBL) is a recently defined entity comprising ~2-10% non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL). Unlike most NHL subtypes, PMBL lacks recurrent gene rearrangements to serve as biomarkers or betray target genes. While druggable, late chemotherapeutic complications warrant the search for new targets and models. Well characterized tumor cell lines provide unlimited material to serve as preclinical resources for verifiable analyses directed at the discovery of new biomarkers and pathological targets using high throughput microarray technologies. The same cells may then be used to seek intelligent therapies directed at clinically validated targets. Four cell lines have emerged as potential PMBL models: FARAGE, KARPAS-1106P, MEDB-1 and U-2940. Transcriptionally, PMBL cell lines cluster near c(lassical)-HL and B-NHL examples showing they are related but separate entities. Here we document genomic alterations therein, by cytogenetics and high density oligonucleotide/SNP microarrays and parse their impact by integrated global expression profiling. PMBL cell lines were distinguished by moderate chromosome rearrangement levels undercutting cHL, while lacking oncogene translocations seen in B-NHL. In total 61 deletions were shared by two or more cell lines, together with 12 amplifications (≥4x) and 72 homozygous regions. Integrated genomic and transcriptional profiling showed deletions to be the most important class of chromosome rearrangement. Lesions were mapped to several loci associated with PMBL, e.g. 2p15 (REL/COMMD1), 9p24 (JAK2, CD274), 16p13 (SOCS1, LITAF, CIITA); plus new or tenuously associated loci: 2p16 (MSH6), 6q23 (TNFAIP3), 9p22 (CDKN2A/B), 20p12 (PTPN1). Discrete homozygous regions sometimes substituted focal deletions accompanied by gene silencing implying a role for epigenetic or mutational inactivation. Genomic amplifications increasing gene expression or gene-activating rearrangements were respectively rare or absent. Our findings highlight biallelic deletions as a major class of chromosomal lesion in PMBL cell lines, while endorsing the latter as preclinical models for hunting and testing new biomarkers and actionable targets.

Mottok A, Woolcock B, Chan FC, et al.
Genomic Alterations in CIITA Are Frequent in Primary Mediastinal Large B Cell Lymphoma and Are Associated with Diminished MHC Class II Expression.
Cell Rep. 2015; 13(7):1418-1431 [PubMed] Related Publications
Primary mediastinal large B cell lymphoma (PMBCL) is an aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, predominantly affecting young patients. We analyzed 45 primary PMBCL tumor biopsies and 3 PMBCL-derived cell lines for the presence of genetic alterations involving the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II transactivator CIITA and found frequent aberrations consisting of structural genomic rearrangements, missense, nonsense, and frame-shift mutations (53% of primary tumor biopsies and all cell lines). We also detected intron 1 mutations in 47% of the cases, and detailed sequence analysis strongly suggests AID-mediated aberrant somatic hypermutation as the mutational mechanism. Furthermore, we demonstrate that genomic lesions in CIITA result in decreased protein expression and reduction of MHC class II surface expression, creating an immune privilege phenotype in PMBCL. In summary, we establish CIITA alterations as a common mechanism of immune escape through reduction of MHC class II expression in PMBCL, with potential implications for future treatments targeting microenvironment-related biology.

Chen H, Li Y, Lin X, et al.
Functional disruption of human leukocyte antigen II in human embryonic stem cell.
Biol Res. 2015; 48:59 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Theoretically human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) have the capacity to self-renew and differentiate into all human cell types. Therefore, the greatest promise of hESCs-based therapy is to replace the damaged tissues of patients suffering from traumatic or degenerative diseases by the exact same type of cells derived from hESCs. Allograft immune rejection is one of the obstacles for hESCs-based clinical applications. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) II leads to CD4(+) T cells-mediated allograft rejection. Hence, we focus on optimizing hESCs for clinic application through gene modification.
RESULTS: Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) were used to target MHC class II transactivator (CIITA) in hESCs efficiently. CIITA (-/-) hESCs did not show any difference in the differentiation potential and self-renewal capacity. Dendritic cells (DCs) derived from CIITA (-/-) hESCs expressed CD83 and CD86 but without the constitutive HLA II. Fibroblasts derived from CIITA (-/-) hESCs were powerless in IFN-γ inducible expression of HLA II.
CONCLUSION: We generated HLA II defected hESCs via deleting CIITA, a master regulator of constitutive and IFN-γ inducible expression of HLA II genes. CIITA (-/-) hESCs can differentiate into tissue cells with non-HLA II expression. It's promising that CIITA (-/-) hESCs-derived cells could be used in cell therapy (e.g., T cells and DCs) and escape the attack of receptors' CD4(+) T cells, which are the main effector cells of cellular immunity in allograft.

Brown PJ, Wong KK, Felce SL, et al.
FOXP1 suppresses immune response signatures and MHC class II expression in activated B-cell-like diffuse large B-cell lymphomas.
Leukemia. 2016; 30(3):605-16 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The FOXP1 (forkhead box P1) transcription factor is a marker of poor prognosis in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Here microarray analysis of FOXP1-silenced DLBCL cell lines identified differential regulation of immune response signatures and major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC II) genes as some of the most significant differences between germinal center B-cell (GCB)-like DLBCL with full-length FOXP1 protein expression versus activated B-cell (ABC)-like DLBCL expressing predominantly short FOXP1 isoforms. In an independent primary DLBCL microarray data set, multiple MHC II genes, including human leukocyte antigen DR alpha chain (HLA-DRA), were inversely correlated with FOXP1 transcript expression (P<0.05). FOXP1 knockdown in ABC-DLBCL cells led to increased cell-surface expression of HLA-DRA and CD74. In R-CHOP (rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone)-treated DLBCL patients (n=150), reduced HLA-DRA (<90% frequency) expression correlated with inferior overall survival (P=0.0003) and progression-free survival (P=0.0012) and with non-GCB subtype stratified by the Hans, Choi or Visco-Young algorithms (all P<0.01). In non-GCB DLBCL cases with <90% HLA-DRA, there was an inverse correlation with the frequency (P=0.0456) and intensity (P=0.0349) of FOXP1 expression. We propose that FOXP1 represents a novel regulator of genes targeted by the class II MHC transactivator CIITA (MHC II and CD74) and therapeutically targeting the FOXP1 pathway may improve antigen presentation and immune surveillance in high-risk DLBCL patients.

Belo H, Silva G, Cardoso BA, et al.
Epigenetic Alterations in Fanconi Anaemia: Role in Pathophysiology and Therapeutic Potential.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(10):e0139740 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Fanconi anaemia (FA) is an inherited disorder characterized by chromosomal instability. The phenotype is variable, which raises the possibility that it may be affected by other factors, such as epigenetic modifications. These play an important role in oncogenesis and may be pharmacologically manipulated. Our aim was to explore whether the epigenetic profiles in FA differ from non-FA individuals and whether these could be manipulated to alter the disease phenotype. We compared expression of epigenetic genes and DNA methylation profile of tumour suppressor genes between FA and normal samples. FA samples exhibited decreased expression levels of genes involved in epigenetic regulation and hypomethylation in the promoter regions of tumour suppressor genes. Treatment of FA cells with histone deacetylase inhibitor Vorinostat increased the expression of DNM3Tβ and reduced the levels of CIITA and HDAC9, PAK1, USP16, all involved in different aspects of epigenetic and immune regulation. Given the ability of Vorinostat to modulate epigenetic genes in FA patients, we investigated its functional effects on the FA phenotype. This was assessed by incubating FA cells with Vorinostat and quantifying chromosomal breaks induced by DNA cross-linking agents. Treatment of FA cells with Vorinostat resulted in a significant reduction of aberrant cells (81% on average). Our results suggest that epigenetic mechanisms may play a role in oncogenesis in FA. Epigenetic agents may be helpful in improving the phenotype of FA patients, potentially reducing tumour incidence in this population.

Novak AJ, Asmann YW, Maurer MJ, et al.
Whole-exome analysis reveals novel somatic genomic alterations associated with outcome in immunochemotherapy-treated diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
Blood Cancer J. 2015; 5:e346 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Lack of remission or early relapse remains a major clinical issue in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), with 30% of patients failing standard of care. Although clinical factors and molecular signatures can partially predict DLBCL outcome, additional information is needed to identify high-risk patients, particularly biologic factors that might ultimately be amenable to intervention. Using whole-exome sequencing data from 51 newly diagnosed and immunochemotherapy-treated DLBCL patients, we evaluated the association of somatic genomic alterations with patient outcome, defined as failure to achieve event-free survival at 24 months after diagnosis (EFS24). We identified 16 genes with mutations, 374 with copy number gains and 151 with copy number losses that were associated with failure to achieve EFS24 (P<0.05). Except for FOXO1 and CIITA, known driver mutations did not correlate with EFS24. Gene losses were localized to 6q21-6q24.2, and gains to 3q13.12-3q29, 11q23.1-11q23.3 and 19q13.12-19q13.43. Globally, the number of gains was highly associated with poor outcome (P=7.4 × 10(-12)) and when combined with FOXO1 mutations identified 77% of cases that failed to achieve EFS24. One gene (SLC22A16) at 6q21, a doxorubicin transporter, was lost in 54% of EFS24 failures and our findings suggest it functions as a doxorubicin transporter in DLBCL cells.

Butler SN, Blanck G
Immunoscoring by correlating MHC class II and TCR expression: high level immune functions represented by the KIRP dataset of TCGA.
Cell Tissue Res. 2016; 363(2):491-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) is primarily oriented towards revealing the status of cancer cells but TCGA RNASeq data have the potential of representing gene expression for a variety of cells that are included during RNA preparation, i.e., cells that cannot be removed from the microenvironment during cancer sample isolation. Thus, we seek to determine whether RNASeq data can be used to pioneer greater precision for immunoscoring. We obtained the RNASeq results for HLA class II genes, the class II transactivator (CIITA) and T-cell receptor (TCR) alpha segments. The data indicated strong degrees of correlation of HLA class II expression with TCR expression. Furthermore, biomarkers of professional antigen-presenting cells also correlated with TCR expression, with the kidney renal papillary cell carcinoma (KIRP) dataset indicative of the highest level, immune function microenvironment. These analyses indicate that an immune function signature, with probable internal HLA class II-TCR verifications, can be obtained from individual TCGA samples; this in turn indicates that such signatures might provide a basis for correlations with prognosis or for convenient indications of therapy options, such as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte availability for ex-vivo amplification. Although tumor immunoscoring has been proposed, the above analysis represents the first immunoscoring approach that correlates antigen presentation capacity with TCR mRNA expression.

Ryan RJ, Drier Y, Whitton H, et al.
Detection of Enhancer-Associated Rearrangements Reveals Mechanisms of Oncogene Dysregulation in B-cell Lymphoma.
Cancer Discov. 2015; 5(10):1058-71 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
UNLABELLED: B-cell lymphomas frequently contain genomic rearrangements that lead to oncogene activation by heterologous distal regulatory elements. We used a novel approach called "pinpointing enhancer-associated rearrangements by chromatin immunoprecipitation," or PEAR-ChIP, to simultaneously map enhancer activity and proximal rearrangements in lymphoma cell lines and patient biopsies. This method detects rearrangements involving known cancer genes, including CCND1, BCL2, MYC, PDCD1LG2, NOTCH1, CIITA, and SGK1, as well as novel enhancer duplication events of likely oncogenic significance. We identify lymphoma subtype-specific enhancers in the MYC locus that are silenced in lymphomas with MYC-activating rearrangements and are associated with germline polymorphisms that alter lymphoma risk. We show that BCL6-locus enhancers are acetylated by the BCL6-activating transcription factor MEF2B, and can undergo genomic duplication, or target the MYC promoter for activation in the context of a "pseudo-double-hit" t(3;8)(q27;q24) rearrangement linking the BCL6 and MYC loci. Our work provides novel insights regarding enhancer-driven oncogene activation in lymphoma.
SIGNIFICANCE: We demonstrate a novel approach for simultaneous detection of genomic rearrangements and enhancer activity in tumor biopsies. We identify novel mechanisms of enhancer-driven regulation of the oncogenes MYC and BCL6, and show that the BCL6 locus can serve as an enhancer donor in an "enhancer hijacking" translocation.

Yuan J, Wright G, Rosenwald A, et al.
Identification of Primary Mediastinal Large B-cell Lymphoma at Nonmediastinal Sites by Gene Expression Profiling.
Am J Surg Pathol. 2015; 39(10):1322-30 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mediastinal involvement is considered essential for the diagnosis of primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma (PMBL). However, we have observed cases of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) with features of PMBL but without detectable mediastinal involvement. The goal was to assess our previously established gene expression profiling (GEP) signature for PMBL in classifying these cases. In a large series of DLBCL cases, we identified 24 cases with a GEP signature of PMBL, including 9 cases with a submission diagnosis of DLBCL consistent with PMBL (G-PMBL-P) and 15 cases with a submission diagnosis of DLBCL. The pathology reviewers agreed with the diagnosis in the 9 G-PMBL-P cases. Among the other 15 DLBCL cases, 11 were considered to be PMBL or DLBCL consistent with PMBL, 3 were considered to be DLBCL, and 1 case was a gray-zone lymphoma with features intermediate between DLBCL and classical Hodgkin lymphoma. All 9 G-PMBL-P and 9 of the 15 DLBCL cases (G-PMBL-M) had demonstrated mediastinal involvement at presentation. Interestingly, 6 of the 15 DLBCL cases (G-PMBL-NM) had no clinical or radiologic evidence of mediastinal involvement. The 3 subgroups of PMBL had otherwise similar clinical characteristics, and there were no significant differences in overall survival. Genetic alterations of CIITA and PDL1/2 were detected in 26% and 40% of cases, respectively, including 1 G-PMBL-NM case with gain of PDL1/2. In conclusion, PMBL can present as a nonmediastinal tumor without evidence of mediastinal involvement, and GEP offers a more precise diagnosis of PMBL.

Wu T, Wang X, Li J, et al.
Identification of Personalized Chemoresistance Genes in Subtypes of Basal-Like Breast Cancer Based on Functional Differences Using Pathway Analysis.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(6):e0131183 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Breast cancer is a highly heterogeneous disease that is clinically classified into several subtypes. Among these subtypes, basal-like breast cancer largely overlaps with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), and these two groups are generally studied together as a single entity. Differences in the molecular makeup of breast cancers can result in different treatment strategies and prognoses for patients with different breast cancer subtypes. Compared with other subtypes, basal-like and other ER+ breast cancer subtypes exhibit marked differences in etiologic factors, clinical characteristics and therapeutic potential. Anthracycline drugs are typically used as the first-line clinical treatment for basal-like breast cancer subtypes. However, certain patients develop drug resistance following chemotherapy, which can lead to disease relapse and death. Even among patients with basal-like breast cancer, there can be significant molecular differences, and it is difficult to identify specific drug resistance proteins in any given patient using conventional variance testing methods. Therefore, we designed a new method for identifying drug resistance genes. Subgroups, personalized biomarkers, and therapy targets were identified using cluster analysis of differentially expressed genes. We found that basal-like breast cancer could be further divided into at least four distinct subgroups, including two groups at risk for drug resistance and two groups characterized by sensitivity to pharmacotherapy. Based on functional differences among these subgroups, we identified nine biomarkers related to drug resistance: SYK, LCK, GAB2, PAWR, PPARG, MDFI, ZAP70, CIITA and ACTA1. Finally, based on the deviation scores of the examined pathways, 16 pathways were shown to exhibit varying degrees of abnormality in the various subgroups, indicating that patients with different subtypes of basal-like breast cancer can be characterized by differences in the functional status of these pathways. Therefore, these nine differentially expressed genes and their associated functional pathways should provide the basis for novel personalized clinical treatments of basal-like breast cancer.

Pisapia L, Barba P, Cortese A, et al.
EBP1 protein modulates the expression of human MHC class II molecules in non-hematopoietic cancer cells.
Int J Oncol. 2015; 47(2):481-9 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Many solid tumours including melanoma, glioblastoma, and breast carcinomas express MHC class II molecules (MHC II). The surface expression of these molecules confers to non-hematopoietic tumour cells the role of non-professional antigen presenting cells and the ability to potentially stimulate tumour-specific CD4+ T cell response. We studied EBP1, an ErbB3 binding protein, and the effects of p48 and p42 isoforms on the MHC II expression in U87 glioblastoma, M14 melanoma and MCF7 mammary carcinoma cell lines. We found that overexpression of p48 increases MHC II transcription in U87 and M14, through upregulation of CIITA transactivator and STAT1 phosphorylation. In addition, p48 protein influences MHC II expression by increasing mRNA stability. In melanoma and glioblastoma cell lines, p48 isoform functions as oncogene promoting tumour growth, while p42 isoform, that does not affect MHC II expression, acts as a tumour suppressor by blocking cell growth and inducing apoptosis. In contrast, p48 seems to act as tumour suppressor in breast carcinoma inhibiting proliferation, favouring apoptosis, and inducing a slight increase of MHC II expression similar to p42. Our data highlight the tissue specificity function of EBP1 isoforms and demonstrate that only the oncogene p48 activates MHC II expression in human solid tumours, via STAT1 phosphorylation, in order to affect tumour progression by triggering specific immune response.

Mottok A, Steidl C
Genomic alterations underlying immune privilege in malignant lymphomas.
Curr Opin Hematol. 2015; 22(4):343-54 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Malignant lymphomas represent a remarkably heterogeneous group of cancers with respect to their oncogenome, phenotype and clinical presentation. Lymphoma cells benefit from limited immune surveillance and have developed various mechanisms to alter antitumor immune responses. This article summarizes our current knowledge about genomic alterations underlying acquired immune privilege in lymphoid cancers.
RECENT FINDINGS: The implementation and broad application of next-generation sequencing techniques have significantly expanded our knowledge about genetic alterations and perturbed cellular pathways underlying lymphomagenesis. Based on key discoveries in the past decade, the purview of subsequent studies expanded beyond the biology of the lymphoma cells to include the pathogenic contribution of immune cells, stromal components and associated crosstalk between malignant and nonmalignant cells in the tumor microenvironment. A number of genetic mechanisms have been described that elucidate how lymphoma cells are selected for evading immune recognition and reprogramming immune responses. These prominently include structural genomic changes of the CIITA and programmed death ligand (CD274/PDCD1LG2) loci, alterations affecting antigen presentation and mutations in JAK-STAT and NFκB signaling pathways.
SUMMARY: Further investigations will foster our understanding about synergy of immune escape mechanisms, and lay the foundation for the development of predictive biomarkers in the context of conceptually novel therapies targeting microenvironment-related biology, such as immunological checkpoint inhibition.

Abou El Hassan M, Yu T, Song L, Bremner R
Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 Confers BRG1 Dependency on the CIITA Locus.
J Immunol. 2015; 194(10):5007-13 [PubMed] Related Publications
CIITA (or MHC2TA) coordinates constitutive and IFN-γ-induced expression of MHC class II genes. IFN-γ responsiveness of CIITA requires BRG1 (SMARCA4), the ATPase engine of the chromatin remodeling SWI/SNF complex (also called BAF). SWI/SNF is defective in many human cancers, providing a mechanism to explain IFN-γ resistance. BRG1 dependency is mediated through remote elements. Short CIITA reporters lacking these elements respond to IFN-γ, even in BRG1-deficient cells, suggesting that BRG1 counters a remote repressive influence. The nature of this distal repressor is unknown, but it would represent a valuable therapeutic target to reactivate IFN-γ responsiveness in cancer. In this article, we show that the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) components EZH2 and SUZ12, as well as the associated histone mark H3K27me3, are codetected at interenhancer regions across the CIITA locus. IFN-γ caused a BRG1-dependent reduction in H3K27me3, associated with nucleosome displacement. SUZ12 knockdown restored IFN-γ responsiveness in BRG1-null cells, and it mimicked the ability of BRG1 to induce active histone modifications (H3K27ac, H3K4me) at the -50-kb enhancer. Thus, PRC2 confers BRG1 dependency on the CIITA locus. Our data suggest that, in addition to its known roles in promoting stemness and proliferation, PRC2 may inhibit immune surveillance, and it could be targeted to reactivate CIITA expression in SWI/SNF deficient cancers.

Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes only; it can not be used in diagnosis or treatment.

Cite this page: Cotterill SJ. CIITA, Cancer Genetics Web: Accessed:

Creative Commons License
This page in Cancer Genetics Web by Simon Cotterill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Note: content of abstracts copyright of respective publishers - seek permission where appropriate.

 [Home]    Page last revised: 31 August, 2019     Cancer Genetics Web, Established 1999