Immune response to a differentiation antigen induced by altered antigen: a study of tumor rejection and autoimmunity

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Dec 10;93(25):14809-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.93.25.14809.


Recognition of self is emerging as a theme for the immune recognition of human cancer. One question is whether the immune system can actively respond to normal tissue autoantigens expressed by cancer cells. A second but related question is whether immune recognition of tissue autoantigens can actually induce tumor rejection. To address these issues, a mouse model was developed to investigate immune responses to a melanocyte differentiation antigen, tyrosinase-related protein 1 (or gp75), which is the product of the brown locus. In mice, immunization with purified syngeneic gp75 or syngeneic cells expressing gp75 failed to elicit antibody or cytotoxic T-cell responses to gp75, even when different immune adjuvants and cytokines were included. However, immunization with altered sources of gp75 antigen, in the form of either syngeneic gp75 expressed in insect cells or human gp75, elicited autoantibodies to gp75. Immunized mice rejected metastatic melanomas and developed patchy depigmentation in their coats. These studies support a model of tolerance maintained to a melanocyte differentiation antigen where tolerance can be broken by presenting sources of altered antigen (e.g., homologous xenogeneic protein or protein expressed in insect cells). Immune responses induced with these sources of altered antigen reacted with various processed forms of native, syngeneic protein and could induce both tumor rejection and autoimmunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Autoantigens / immunology*
  • Autoimmunity*
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Humans
  • Melanoma, Experimental / immunology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Oxidoreductases*
  • Proteins / immunology*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Autoantigens
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Proteins
  • Oxidoreductases
  • TYRP1 protein, human
  • Tyrp1 protein, mouse
  • tyrosinase-related protein-1