MAGE, BAGE and GAGE gene expression in human rhabdomyosarcomas

Int J Cancer. 2001 Jul 1;93(1):85-90. doi: 10.1002/ijc.1307.


MAGE, BAGE and GAGE genes encode tumor-associated antigens that are presented by HLA class I molecules and recognized by CD8(+) cytolytic T lymphocytes. These antigens are currently regarded as promising targets for active, specific tumor immunotherapy because MAGE, BAGE and GAGE genes are expressed in many human cancers of different histotype and are silent in normal tissues, with the exception of spermatogonia and placental cells. MAGE, BAGE and GAGE gene expression has been extensively studied in different tumors of adults but is largely unknown in many forms of pediatric solid cancer. Using RT-PCR, we analyzed MAGE-1, MAGE-2, MAGE-3, MAGE-4, MAGE-6, BAGE, GAGE-1,-2 or -8 and GAGE-3,-4,-5,-6 or -7b gene expression in 31 samples of pediatric rhabdomyosarcoma, the most frequent form of malignant soft tissue tumor in children. MAGE genes were expressed in a substantial proportion of patients (MAGE-1, 38%; MAGE-2, 51%; MAGE-3, 35%; MAGE-4, 22%; MAGE-6, 35%), while expression of BAGE (6%); GAGE-1, GAGE-2 and GAGE-8 (9%); and GAGE-3, GAGE-4, GAGE-5, GAGE-6 and GAGE-7B (16%) was less frequent. Overall, 58% of tumors expressed at least 1 gene, and 35% expressed 3 or more genes simultaneously. Our data suggest that a subset of rhabdomyosarcoma patients could be eligible for active, specific immunotherapy directed against MAGE, BAGE and GAGE antigens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Melanoma-Specific Antigens
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma / genetics*
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma / immunology
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma / pathology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • BAGE protein, human
  • GAGE1 protein, human
  • GAGE2A protein, human
  • GAGE7 protein, human
  • MAGEA1 protein, human
  • MAGEA3 protein, human
  • MAGEA4 protein, human
  • MAGEA6 protein, human
  • MAGEB2 protein, human
  • Melanoma-Specific Antigens
  • Neoplasm Proteins