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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jun 10;94(12):6375-9.

Mutated mitogen-activated protein kinase: a tumor rejection antigen of mouse sarcoma.

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2nd Department of Internal Medicine, Mie University School of Medicine, Tsu, Mie 514, Japan.


The molecular basis of the polymorphic tumor rejection antigens of chemically induced sarcomas of inbred mice remains a mystery, despite the discovery of these antigens over 40 years ago and their critical importance to the foundation of tumor immunology. In an analysis of a panel of BALB/c 3-methylcholanthrene-induced tumors, we identified one tumor, CMS5, that elicited a strong cytotoxic T cell response with exquisite specificity for CMS5. A stable cloned line of T cells with this specificity (C18) was used to screen a CMS5 cDNA expression library. The gene encoding the C18-defined antigen was identified as a mutated form of a mouse mitogen-activated protein kinase, ERK2, and a peptide incorporating the resulting amino acid substitution (lysine to glutamine) was efficiently recognized by C18. Vaccination with this peptide elicited specific resistance to CMS5 challenge. Extensive efforts to isolate antigen-loss variants of CMS5 were unsuccessful, suggesting that the mutated mitogen-activated protein kinase is essential for maintenance of the malignant phenotype.

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