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Oncogene. 2003 Sep 29;22(42):6564-9.

Targeted therapy of solid malignancies via HLA class II antigens: a new biotherapeutic approach?

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Cancer Bioimmunotherapy Unit, Department of Medical Oncology, Centro di Riferimento Oncologico, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, via Pedemontana Occ. le, 12, Aviano 33081, Italy.


Intracellular signals, delivered in professional antigen-presenting cells following the engagement of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules, activate a variety of cellular functions that also contribute to efficient antigen presentation. As far as human malignancies, the signaling ability of human leukocyte antigens (HLA) class II molecules is a rather well-characterized event in hematologic tumors; in contrast, very limited evidences are available in solid neoplasias of different histotypes that may constitutively express HLA class II antigens. Among solid malignancies, a significant proportion of human cutaneous melanomas have been shown to express HLA class II molecules, and cutaneous melanoma undoubtedly represents a 'model disease' to investigate tumor immunobiology, to unveil the molecular basis underlying the interactions between neoplastic cells and host's immune system, and ultimately to set up new bio-immunotherapeutic approaches. Upcoming preclinical evidences unveil a signaling potential of HLA-DR antigens expressed on melanoma cells, and suggest for the clinical implication of HLA class II molecules as novel therapeutic targets. Therefore, in this review, we will focus on the emerging role of HLA class II antigens as intracellular signal transducing elements in neoplastic cells of the melanocytic lineage, emphasizing their foreseeable role in targeted therapy of human melanoma and potentially of HLA class II antigens-positive tumors of different histology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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