A potential target for development of tumor-specific immunotherapeutic strategies is the MAGE-1 gene. We have utilized a recently developed recombinant canarypox (ALVAC) virus vector containing the MAGE-1 gene (vCP235) to activate CTLs from a breast cancer patient bearing a MAGE-1+ tumor. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) obtained from the tumor of a patient were stimulated in vitro with irradiated autologous peripheral blood mononuclear cells acutely infected with the vCP235 construct. These TILs preferentially expanded approximately 6-fold over a 16-day culture period and specifically recognized an allogeneic transformed B-cell line acutely infected with a vaccinia-MAGE-1 recombinant targeting vector (vP1188) in the context of HLA-A2 and/or B7. TCR Vβ analysis of in vitro expanded T cells by a quantitative multiprobe RNase protection assay revealed preferential expansion of TCR Vβ6.3 and Vβ6.4. In addition, homologous T-cell receptor β CDR3 joining sequences were found in the in vitro stimulated cultures. These results suggest that tumor antigen-specific, MHC-restricted CTLs may be derived from precursor CTLs present in TILs obtained from patients with MAGE-1+ tumors by in vitro stimulation with recombinant avipox MAGE-1 virus-infected autologous cells. Collectively, these findings provide a rationale for tumor-associated antigen-based immunization as a means of activating precursor CTLs residing in patients with tumors expressing defined tumor-associated antigens such as MAGE-1.

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This work was supported by NIH Awards 1-RO1-CA58005 and 1-P50-CA68438 (Duke University SPORE in Breast Cancer) and NIH Training Grant 5-T32-AI07392 (J. F. T.).

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