Cancer-testis antigens (CTAs) such as MAGE are selectively expressed in various types of human neoplasms but not in normal tissues other than testis. This characteristic feature of CTAs makes them promising antigens for cancer-specific immunotherapy. A critical requirement for this therapy is identification of promising antigens. In this study, we investigated the expression of 6 genes recently identified by serological analysis of antigens by recombinant expression (SEREX) libraries: NY-ESO-1, LAGE-1, SCP-1, SSX-1, SSX-2, and SSX-4, in many surgical samples of gastrointestinal and breast carcinomas using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. We found relatively high expression of SCP-1 (23.5%) and SSX-4 (20.6%) in gastric carcinoma, LAGE-1 (39.1%) and NY-ESO-1 (23.9%) in oesophageal carcinoma, and SCP-1 (34.1%) in breast carcinoma. We also found frequent synchronous expression with MAGE, including LAGE-1 (46.2%) in oesophageal carcinoma, SSX-4 (46.7%) in gastric carcinoma, and SCP-1 (38.3%) in breast carcinoma. Immunohistochemical analysis of the tumour samples expressing both MAGE-4 and NY-ESO-1 genes demonstrated differences in distribution between MAGE-4 and NY-ESO-1 in serial sections. We concluded that NY-ESO-1, LAGE-1, SCP-1 and SSX-4 genes may be promising candidates for cancer-specific immunotherapy in addition to MAGE, and that polyvalent cancer vaccines may be useful in cases of heterogeneous expressions of CTA genes in gastrointestinal and breast carcinomas.
Copyright 2001 Cancer Research Campaign.