The identification of cancer-specific biomolecules is of fundamental importance to the development of diagnostic and/or prognostic markers, which may also serve as therapeutic targets. Some antigenic proteins are only normally present in male gametogenic tissues in the testis and not in normal somatic cells. When these proteins are aberrantly produced in cancer they are referred to as cancer/testis (CT) antigens (CTAs). Some CTA genes have been proven to encode immunogenic proteins that have been used as successful immunotherapy targets for various forms of cancer and have been implicated as drug targets. Here, a targeted in silico analysis of cancer expressed sequence tag (EST) data sets resulted in the identification of a significant number of novel CT genes. The expression profiles of these genes were validated in a range of normal and cancerous cell types. Subsequent meta-analysis of gene expression microarray data sets demonstrates that these genes are clinically relevant as cancer-specific biomarkers, which could pave the way for the discovery of new therapies and/or diagnostic/prognostic monitoring technologies.
Keywords: Cancer/testis antigens; cancer biomarkers; gene expression; meiCT; meiosis; oncogenes.