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Adv Cancer Res. 2010;109:73-121. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-380890-5.00003-X.

Functional and clinical relevance of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Colorado Denver-Aurora, Colorado, USA.


The lack of effective conventional therapies for the treatment of advanced stage melanoma has stimulated interest in the development of novel strategies for the management of patients with malignant melanoma. Among them, immunotherapy has attracted much attention because of the potential role played by immunological events in the clinical course of melanoma. For many years, T cell-based immunotherapy has been emphasized in part because of the disappointing results of the monoclonal antibody (mAb)-based clinical trials conducted in the early 1980s and in part because of the postulated major role played by T cells in tumor growth control. More recently, mAb-based therapies have gained in popularity given their clinical and commercial success for a variety of malignant diseases. As a result, there has been increased interest in identifying and characterizing antibody-defined melanoma antigens. Among them, the chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4 (CSPG4), also known as high molecular weight-melanoma associated antigen (HMW-MAA) or melanoma chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (MCSP), has attracted much attention in recent years because of the growing experimental evidence that it fulfills two requirements for immunotherapy to be therapeutically effective: (1) targeting of cancer stem cells (CSC) and (2) development of combinatorial therapies to counteract the escape mechanisms driven by the genetic instability of tumor cells. With this in mind, in this chapter, we have reviewed recent information related to the distribution of CSPG4 on various types of tumors, including CSC, its expression on pericytes in the tumor microenvironment, its recognition by T cells, its role in cell biology as well as the potential mechanisms underlying the ability of CSPG4-specific immunity to control malignant cell growth.

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