The human MAGE genes are expressed in a wide variety of tumors but not in normal cells, with the exception of the male germ cells, placenta, and, possibly, cells of the developing embryo. These genes encode tumor-specific antigens recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes. The MAGE genes are located on the X chromosome, in three clusters denoted MAGE-A, B, and C, mapping at q28, p21.3, and q26, respectively. The function of these genes remains unknown. Because mice offer many advantages for the study of genes that may be involved in embryonic development, we looked for the murine equivalents of the 12 human MAGE-A genes. Using a MAGE-A probe, we isolated 8 new murine genes that are homologous to the MAGE genes. On average, the open reading frames (ORFs) of these 8 closely related genes display a slightly higher degree of nucleotide identity with the MAGE-A ORFs than with the MAGE-B or MAGE-C ORFs. Furthermore, like MAGE-A genes, they encode acidic proteins, whereas the MAGE-B genes encode basic proteins. Accordingly, these 8 murine genes were named Mage-a1 to 8 (approved symbols Magea1 to 8). Mage-a genes were mapped in two different loci on the mouse X chromosome. Mage-a4 and Mage-a7 are located in a region that is syntenic to either Xp21 or Xq28. The 6 other genes are arranged in a cluster located in a region syntenic to Xp22. Like their human counterparts, Mage-a genes were found to be transcribed in adult testis, but not in other tissues. Expression of some Mage-a genes was also detected in tumor cell lines. Two Mage-a genes were found to be expressed in blastocysts.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.