Tumor antigens recognized by T lymphocytes.
Van den Eynde BJ., Boon T.
In the last five years, knowledge of human tumor antigens recognized by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) has increased considerably. So far, genetic and biochemical approaches have led to the molecular identification of three classes of antigens. Most of these antigens consist of peptides that are presented to T cells by HLA molecules. The first class comprises antigens encoded by genes such as MAGE, BAGE, and GAGE, which are expressed in various tumors of different histological origins, but not in normal tissues other than testis. The second class represents differentiation antigens encoded by genes that are only expressed in melanoma and normal melanocytes like tyrosinase, Melan-A/MART-1, gp100 and gp75. The third class includes antigens produced by unique point mutations in genes that are ubiquitously expressed. In most cases, the antigenic peptide is encoded by the mutated region of the gene. A number of these antigens provide promising targets for new protocols of specific cancer immunotherapy.