The TAG Family of Cancer/Testis Antigens is Widely Expressed in a Variety of Malignancies and Gives Rise to HLA-A2–Restricted Epitopes

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Abstract

The TAG-1, TAG-2a, TAG-2b, and TAG-2c cancer/testis genes, known to be expressed in an unusually high percentage of melanoma cell lines, are shown here to be expressed in a variety of tumor lines of diverse histologic type, including cancers of the brain, breast, colon, lung, ovary, pharynx, and tongue. The genes are also expressed in fresh, uncultured melanoma, and ovarian cancer cells. Epitope prediction algorithms were used to identify potential HLA-A1, HLA-A2, HLA-A3, HLA-B7, and HLA-B8 epitopes, and these potential epitopes were tested for their ability to stimulate a peptide-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte response using lymphocytes from healthy donors. Two HLA-A2–restricted epitopes (SLGWLFLLL and LLLRLECNV) were identified using this approach. Cytotoxic T lymphocytes specific for each of these peptides were capable of recognizing tumor cells expressing both the corresponding class I major histocompatibility complex encoded molecule and the TAG genes. These results indicate that TAG-derived peptides may be good components of a therapeutic vaccine designed to target melanoma and a variety of epithelial cell-derived malignancies.

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