It has recently been shown that tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) can evoke tumor-specific T-cell-defined immune responses in cancer patients, thereby offering the possibility of treating patients with such antigens. To develop T-cell-based immunotherapeutic approaches for renal cell carcinoma (RCC), we studied the mRNA expression profile of the TAAs RAGE-1, tyrosinase, MAGE-1, MAGE-2, NY-ESO-1, Melan-A/MART-1, glycoprotein (gp) 75, gp100, β-catenin, PRAME, and MUM-1 in 14 human RCC cell lines and in tissue specimens of 37 primary RCCs, 2 related metastases, and 33 specimens of normal renal epithelium. Reverse transcription-PCR was performed with TAA-reactive primers, and the specificity of the PCR products was confirmed by Southern blot and/or direct sequencing. PRAME (10 of 14 cell lines), RAGE-1 (7 of 14 cell lines), and gp75 (4 of 14 cell lines) antigens were expressed in a high percentage of RCC cell lines, although the level of TAA expression varied among the different RCC cell lines. However, low levels of TAA expression in RCC cells are sufficient for recognition by TAA-specific CTLs. Transcription of tyrosinase, Melan-A/MART-1, MAGE-1, MAGE-2, NY-ESO-1, gp100, β-catenin, and MUM-1 was not detected in any RCC cell line. Approximately 50% of surgically removed neoplasias expressed at least one TAA. RAGE-1 mRNA expression was found in 8 of 39 (21%) RCC samples, PRAME mRNA expression was found in 15 of 39 (40%) RCC samples, and gp75 mRNA expression was found in 4 of 39 (11%) RCC samples, but the expression levels of these TAAs were heterogeneous in the different RCC lesions. One RCC specimen expressed MAGE-2, whereas transcription was not detected in any RCC specimen for MAGE-1, NY-ESO-1, tyrosinase, Melan-A/MART-1, gp100, β-catenin, and MUM-1. The normal kidney epithelium samples were negative for any TAA tested. Thus, RAGE-1, PRAME, and gp75 expression is found with a different frequency in surgically removed lesions and in RCC cell lines, suggesting that a subgroup of RCC patients could be selected for immunotherapeutic strategies that may benefit from immunization against the RAGE-1, gp75, and/or PRAME antigens. However, additional targets for T-cell-based immunotherapy of RCC have yet to be identified.

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Supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Grant SFB432 A5 (to B. S.), the Boehringer Ingelheim Fond (C. H. and B. S.), and Grant 93.038.2 from the Sander Foundation (to J. D.).

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