High frequency of expression of MAGE genes in human hepatocellular carcinoma

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Activation of human MAGE genes leads to the expression of a set of tumor rejection antigens, which are recognized by cytotoxic T lymphocytes. The antigens may become the targets of immunotherapy. The expression of MAGE genes was originally found in, but is not restricted, to melanomas. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of MAGE genes in human hepatocellular carcinomas.


The expression of MAGE-1, -2, -3, -4 genes in tumorous and corresponding non-tumorous liver tissue was studied using a reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction.


In the 50 hepatocellular carcinomas studied, MAGE-1, -2, -3, -4 mRNA expression was detected in 23 (46%), 17 (34%), 21 (42%) and 8 (16%), respectively. Seventy-four percent of the hepatocellular carcinomas expressed at least one of the MAGE genes. MAGE mRNAs were not detected in the corresponding non-tumor liver tissues. MAGE gene expression was not significantly correlated with clinicopathological factors.


The MAGE genes are expressed in a high percentage of hepatocellular carcinomas; the MAGE gene products are potential targets for tumor-specific immunotherapy.

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