Immunoselection and tumor evasion constitutes one of the major obstacles in cancer immunotherapy. A potential solution to this problem is the development of polyvalent vaccines, and the identification of more tumor-specific antigens is a prerequisite for the development of cancer vaccines. To identify novel tumor-specific antigens, suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) was performed to isolate genes differentially expressed in human hepatocellular cancer (HCC) tissues. PLAC1 (PLACenta-specific 1) was one of the genes identified highly expressed in HCC tissues but not in paired noncancerous tissues. Further analyses revealed its expression in several other types of cancer tissues as well as tumor cell lines, but not in normal tissues except for placenta. Among HCC samples tested, 32% (22/69) showed PLAC1 mRNA expression while the protein was detected in 23.3% (7/30). A serological survey revealed that 3.8% (4/101) of HCC patients had anti-PLAC1 antibody response, suggesting the immunogenicity of PLAC1 in HCC patients. PLAC1 represents a new class of tumor associated antigen with restricted expression in placenta and cancer tissues, that may serve as a target for cancer vaccination.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.