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J Immunol. 1999 Sep 1;163(5):2928-36.

Identification of five MAGE-A1 epitopes recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes obtained by in vitro stimulation with dendritic cells transduced with MAGE-A1.

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  • 1Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Brussels, Belgium.


MAGE genes are expressed by many human tumors of different histological types but not by normal cells, except for male germline cells. The Ags encoded by MAGE genes and recognized by T cells are therefore strictly tumor-specific. Clinical trials involving therapeutic vaccination of cancer patients with MAGE antigenic peptides or proteins are in progress. To increase the range of patients eligible for therapy with peptides, it is important to identify additional MAGE epitopes recognized by CTL. Candidate peptides known to bind to a given HLA have been used to stimulate T lymphocytes in vitro. In some instances, CTL clones directed against these synthetic peptides have been obtained, but these clones often failed to recognize tumor cells expressing the relevant gene. Therefore, we designed a method to identify CTL epitopes that selects naturally processed peptides. Monocyte-derived dendritic cells infected with a recombinant canarypoxvirus (ALVAC) containing the entire MAGE-A1 gene were used to stimulate CD8+ T lymphocytes from the blood of individuals without cancer. Responder cell microcultures that specifically lysed autologous cells expressing MAGE-A1 were cloned using autologous stimulator cells either transduced with a retrovirus coding for MAGE-A1 or infected with recombinant Yersinia-MAGE-A1 bacteria. The CTL clones were tested for their ability to lyse autologous cells loaded with each of a set of overlapping MAGE-A1 peptides. This strategy led to the identification of five new MAGE-A1 epitopes recognized by CTL clones on HLA-A3, -A28, -B53, -Cw2, and -Cw3 molecules. All of these CTL clones recognized target cells expressing gene MAGE-A1.

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