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Immunity. 1997 Feb;6(2):199-208.

Characterization of an antigen that is recognized on a melanoma showing partial HLA loss by CTL expressing an NK inhibitory receptor.

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Cellular Genetics Unit, Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.


Melanoma lines MEL.A and MEL.B were derived from metastases removed from patient LB33 in 1988 and 1993, respectively. The MEL.A cells express several antigens recognized by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) on HLA class I molecules. The MEL.B cells have lost expression of all class I molecules except for HLA-A24. By stimulating autologous lymphocytes with MEL.B, we obtained an HLA-A24-restricted CTL clone that lysed these cells. A novel gene, PRAME, encodes the antigen. It is expressed in a large proportion of tumors and also in some normal tissues, albeit at a lower level. Surprisingly, the CTL failed to lyse MEL.A, even though these cells expressed the gene PRAME. The CTL expresses an NK inhibitory receptor that inhibits its lytic activity upon interaction with HLA-Cw7 molecules, which are present on MEL.A cells and not on MEL.B. Such CTL, active against tumor cells showing partial HLA loss, may constitute an intermediate line of anti-tumor defense between the CTL, which recognize highly specific tumor antigens, and the NK cells, which recognize HLA loss variants.

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