Purpose: To evaluate the frequency of NY-ESO-1 expression in cultured lung cancer cells and to determine if this cancer-testis antigen can be presented for recognition by an HLA-restricted cytolytic T-cell clone specific for NY-ESO-1.
Methods and results: Reverse transcriptase and polymerase chain reaction amplification techniques were utilized to screen a panel of lung and esophageal cancer cell lines for expression of NY-ESO-1 encoding a recently identified cancer-testis antigen. NY-ESO-1 expression was detected in 11 of 16 small cell lung cancer lines, three of seven non-small cell lung cancer lines, and zero of 12 esophageal cancer lines. 5-Aza-2' -deoxycytidine induced expression of NY-ESO-1 in lung cancer cells. Expression of HLA-A31 by plasmid transfection or retroviral transduction enabled recognition of lung cancer cells by an HLA-A31-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocyte clone specific for NY-ESO-1.
Conclusions: NY-ESO-1 expression may be analogous to MAGE gene expression in lung cancer lines in terms of frequency and mechanism of transcriptional regulation. Furthermore, NY-ESO-1 can be presented on lung cancer cells for recognition by HLA-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Further investigation is warranted to determine if NY-ESO-1 can be exploited for the immunotherapy for lung cancer.