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Cancer Res. 2008 Oct 1;68(19):8066-75. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-0287.

Cancer immunotherapy targeting the high molecular weight melanoma-associated antigen protein results in a broad antitumor response and reduction of pericytes in the tumor vasculature.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6076, USA.


The high molecular weight melanoma-associated antigen (HMW-MAA), also known as melanoma chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan, has been used as a target for the immunotherapy of melanoma. This antigen is expressed on the cell surface and has a restricted distribution in normal tissues. Besides its expression in a broad range of transformed cells, this antigen is also found in pericytes, which are important for tumor angiogenesis. We generated a recombinant Listeria monocytogenes (Lm-LLO-HMW-MAA-C) that expresses and secretes a fragment of HMW-MAA (residues 2,160-2,258) fused to the first 441 residues of the listeriolysin O (LLO) protein. Immunization with Lm-LLO-HMW-MAA-C was able to impede the tumor growth of early established B16F10-HMW-MAA tumors in mice and both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells were required for therapeutic efficacy. Immune responses to a known HLA-A2 epitope present in the HMW-MAA(2160-2258) fragment was detected in the HLA-A2/K(b) transgenic mice immunized with Lm-LLO-HMW-MAA-C. Surprisingly, this vaccine also significantly impaired the in vivo growth of other tumorigenic cell lines, such as melanoma, renal carcinoma, and breast tumors, which were not engineered to express HMW-MAA. One hypothesis is that the vaccine could be targeting pericytes, which are important for tumor angiogenesis. In a breast tumor model, immunization with Lm-LLO-HMW-MAA-C caused CD8(+) T-cell infiltration in the tumor stroma and a significant decrease in the number of pericytes in the tumor blood vessels. In conclusion, a Lm-based vaccine against HMW-MAA can trigger cell-mediated immune responses to this antigen that can target not only tumor cells but also pericytes in the tumor vasculature.

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