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Cancer Res. 2001 Nov 1;61(21):7900-7.

Tumor antigens isolated from a patient with vitiligo and T-cell-infiltrated melanoma.

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Division of Cellular Signaling, Institute for Advanced Medical Research, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo 160-8582, Japan.


Serological identification of tumor antigens by cDNA expression cloning is a technique used to isolate cDNAs encoding tumor antigens that are recognized by IgG antibodies in sera from cancer patients. It is also useful for the isolation of tumor antigens recognized by T cells. We applied this method to identify melanoma antigens recognized by the serum from a patient with a good prognosis who had T-cell-infiltrated melanoma and vitiligo. By screening a lambda phage cDNA library constructed from a highly pigmented melanoma cell line, SKmel23, with the patient's serum, 50 positive cDNA clones consisting of 26 distinct antigens were isolated. Of these, 20 encoded known proteins, and 6 encoded previously uncharacterized ones. The most frequently isolated clone, which we named KU-MEL-1, was unknown previously but was homologous to partial cDNA sequences registered in the expressed sequence tag database. Reverse transcription-PCR and Northern blot analysis demonstrated that KU-MEL-1 was strongly expressed in most melanoma cell lines, melanoma tissue samples, and cultured melanocytes and weakly expressed in cell lines derived from other types of tumors, as well as in some normal tissues, including testis. Western blot analysis with polyclonal murine antibody generated by immunization with the recombinant KU-MEL-1 protein demonstrated that the KU-MEL-1 protein was preferentially expressed in melanoma cells and melanocytes. IgG antibodies against KU-MEL-1 were detected in the sera from 9 of 26 melanoma patients and from some patients with other cancers, including brain tumor, esophageal cancer, colon cancer, and chronic myelogenous leukemia, but were not detected in sera from 30 healthy individuals. Although the IgG specific for KU-MEL-1 was not detected in sera from 12 vitiligo patients, it was detected in sera from 7 of 11 patients with Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada disease that is thought to be an autoimmune disease against melanocytes. These results suggest that KU-MEL-1 may be a useful target for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic methods for patients with various cancers, particularly with melanoma, as well as patients with autoimmune diseases against melanocytes.

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