Lack of ADAM2, CALR3 and SAGE1 Cancer/Testis Antigen Expression in Lung and Breast Cancer

PLoS One. 2015 Aug 7;10(8):e0134967. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134967. eCollection 2015.


Immunotherapy is emerging as a supplement to conventional cancer treatment, and identifying antigen targets for specific types of cancer is critical to optimizing therapeutic efficacy. Cancer/testis antigens are highly promising targets for immunotherapy due to their cancer-specific expression and antigenic properties, but the expression patterns of most of the more than 200 identified cancer/testis antigens in various cancers remain largely uncharacterized. In this study, we investigated the expression of the cancer/testis antigens ADAM2, CALR3 and SAGE1 in lung and breast cancer, the two most frequent human cancers, with the purpose of providing novel therapeutic targets for these diseases. We used a set of previously uncharacterized antibodies against the cancer/testis antigens ADAM2, CALR3 and SAGE1 to investigate their expression in a large panel of normal tissues as well as breast and lung cancers. Staining for the well-characterized MAGE-A proteins was included for comparison. Immunohistochemical staining confirmed previous mRNA analysis demonstrating that ADAM2, CALR3 and SAGE1 proteins are confined to testis in normal individuals. Negative tissues included plancenta, which express many other CT antigens, such as MAGE-A proteins. Surprisingly, we detected no ADAM2, CALR3 and SAGE1 in the 67 lung cancers (mainly non-small lung cancer) and 189 breast cancers, while MAGE-A proteins were present in 15% and 7-16% of these tumor types, respectively. Treatment with DNA methyltransferase inhibitors has been proposed as an attractive strategy to increase the expression of cancer/testis antigens in tumors before immunotargeting; however, neither ADAM2, CALR3 nor SAGE1 could be significantly induced in lung and breast cancer cell lines using this strategy. Our results suggest that ADAM2, CALR3 and SAGE1 cancer/testis antigens are not promising targets for immunotherapy of breast and lung cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ADAM Proteins / metabolism*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism*
  • Azacitidine / pharmacology
  • Azacitidine / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Calreticulin / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fertilins
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Melanoma-Specific Antigens / metabolism
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Calreticulin
  • MAGEA1 protein, human
  • Melanoma-Specific Antigens
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • SAGE protein, human
  • ADAM Proteins
  • ADAM2 protein, human
  • Fertilins
  • Azacitidine

Grant support

This study was supported by the Danish Research Council, the Danish Cancer Society and the Danish Cancer Research Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.