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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2009 Oct;58(10):1635-46. doi: 10.1007/s00262-009-0672-0. Epub 2009 Feb 17.

Cancer/testis antigens can be immunological targets in clonogenic CD133+ melanoma cells.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Austin Hospital, Studley Road, Heidelberg, VIC, 3084, Australia.


"Cancer stem cells" that resist conventional treatments may be a cause of therapeutic failure in melanoma. We report a subpopulation of clonogenic melanoma cells that are characterized by high prominin-1/CD133 expression in melanoma and melanoma cell lines. These cells have enhanced clonogenicity and self-renewal in vitro, and serve as a limited in vitro model for melanoma stem cells. In some cases clonogenic CD133(+) melanoma cells show increased expression of some cancer/testis (CT) antigens. The expression of NY-ESO-1 in an HLA-A2 expressing cell line allowed CD133(+) clonogenic melanoma cells to be targeted for killing in vitro by NY-ESO-1-specific CD8(+) T-lymphocytes. Our in vitro findings raise the hypothesis that if melanoma stem cells express CT antigens in vivo that immune targeting of these antigens may be a viable clinical strategy for the adjuvant treatment of melanoma.

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