The newly-arisen devil facial tumour disease 2 (DFT2) reveals a mechanism for the emergence of a contagious cancer

Alison Caldwell, Rachel Coleby, Cesar Tovar, Maximilian R. Stammnitz, Young Mi Kwon, Rachel S. Owen, Marios Tringides, Elizabeth P. Murchison, Karsten Skjødt, Gareth J. Thomas, Jim Kaufman, Tim Elliott, Gregory M. Woods, Hannah V.T. Siddle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Devil Facial Tumour 2 (DFT2) is a recently discovered contagious cancer circulating in the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), a species which already harbours a more widespread contagious cancer, Devil Facial Tumour 1 (DFT1). Here we show that in contrast to DFT1, DFT2 cells express major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules, demonstrating that loss of MHC is not necessary for the emergence of a contagious cancer. However, the most highly expressed MHC class I alleles in DFT2 cells are common among host devils or non-polymorphic, reducing immunogenicity in a population sharing these alleles. In parallel, MHC class I loss is emerging in vivo, thus DFT2 may be mimicking the evolutionary trajectory of DFT1. Based on these results we propose that contagious cancers may exploit partial histocompatibility between the tumour and host, but that loss of allogeneic antigens could facilitate widespread transmission of DFT2.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere35314
JournaleLIFE
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2018

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