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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Mar 4;105(9):3509-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0712269105. Epub 2008 Feb 26.

SPAS-1 (stimulator of prostatic adenocarcinoma-specific T cells)/SH3GLB2: A prostate tumor antigen identified by CTLA-4 blockade.

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Departments of Urology and Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Discovery of immunologically relevant antigens in prostate cancer forms the basis for developing more potent active immunotherapy. We report here a strategy using the transgenic adenocarcinoma of mouse prostate (TRAMP) model, which allows for the functional identification of immunogenic prostate tumor antigens with relevance for human immunotherapy. Using a combination of active tumor vaccination in the presence of CTL-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) in vivo blockade, we elicited tumor-specific T cells used to expression clone the first T cell-defined TRAMP tumor antigen, called Spas-1 (stimulator of prostatic adenocarcinoma specific T cells-1). Spas-1 expression was increased in advanced primary TRAMP tumors. We show that the immunodominant SPAS-1 epitope SNC9-H(8) arose from a point mutation in one allele of the gene in TRAMP tumor cells, and that immunization with dendritic cells pulsed with SNC9-H(8) peptide resulted in protection against TRAMP-C2 tumor challenge. In humans, the Spas-1 ortholog SH3GLB2 has been reported to be overexpressed in prostate cancer metastases. Additionally, we identified a nonmutated HLA-A2-binding epitope in the human ortholog SH3GLB2, which primed T cells from healthy HLA-A2(+) individuals in vitro. Importantly, in vitro-primed T cells also recognized naturally processed and presented SH3GLB2. Our findings demonstrate that our in vivo CTLA-4 blockade-based T cell expression cloning can identify immunogenic cancer antigens with potential relevance for human immunotherapy.

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