Introduction of the B7-1 gene into murine tumor cells can result in rejection of the B7-1 transductants and, in some cases, systemic immunity to subsequent challenge with the nontransduced tumor cells. These effects have been largely attributed to the function of B7-1 as a costimulator in directly activating tumor specific, major histocompatibility class I-restricted CD8+ T cells. We examined the role of B7-1 expression in the direct rejection as well as in the induction of systemic immunity to a nonimmunogenic murine tumor. B-16 melanoma cells with high levels of B7-1 expression did not grow in C57BL/6 recipient mice, while wild-type B-16 cells and cells with low B7-1 expression grew progressively within 21 d. In mixing experiments with B7-1hi and wild-type B-16 cells, tumors grew out in vivo even when a minority of cells were B7-1-. Furthermore, the occasional tumors that grew out after injection of 100% B-16 B7-1hi cells showed markedly decreased B7-1 expression. In vivo antibody depletions showed that NK1.1 and CD8+ T cells, but not CD4+ T cells, were essential for the in vivo rejection of tumors. Animals that rejected B-16 B7-1hi tumors did not develop enhanced systemic immunity against challenge with wild-type B-16 cells. These results suggest that a major role of B7-1 expression by tumors is to mediate direct recognition and killing by natural killer cells. With an intrinsically nonimmunogenic tumor, this direct killing does not lead to enhanced systemic immunity.

This content is only available as a PDF.