MHC class I deficiency in solid tumors and therapeutic strategies to overcome it

Elena Shklovskaya*, Helen Rizos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


It is now well accepted that the immune system can control cancer growth. However, tumors escape immune‐mediated control through multiple mechanisms and the downregulation or loss of major histocompatibility class (MHC)‐I molecules is a common immune escape mechanism in many cancers. MHC‐I molecules present antigenic peptides to cytotoxic T cells, and MHC‐I loss can render tumor cells invisible to the immune system. In this review, we examine the dysregulation of MHC‐I expression in cancer, explore the nature of MHC‐I‐bound antigenic peptides recognized by immune cells, and discuss therapeutic strategies that can be used to overcome MHC‐I deficiency in solid tumors, with a focus on the role of natural killer (NK) cells and CD4 T cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6741
Pages (from-to)1-38
Number of pages38
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Immune checkpoint blockade
  • Immunotherapy
  • Major histocompatibility complex (MHC), MHC‐I
  • NK cells
  • Tumor antigen presentation
  • Tumor antigens
  • T‐cell subsets


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