The cancer-testis antigens CT7 (MAGE-C1) and MAGE-A3/6 are commonly expressed in multiple myeloma and correlate with plasma-cell proliferation.
Multiple myeloma is a malignancy of plasma cells. Vaccine immunotherapy is among the novel therapeutic strategies under investigation for this disease. To identify myeloma-associated antigens as potential targets for vaccine immunotherapy, we surveyed a comprehensive panel of bone marrow specimens from patients with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and multiple myeloma for expression of cancer-testis (CT) antigens. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) demonstrated that 82% of stage-III myeloma specimens expressed the CT antigen CT7 (also known as melanoma antigen C1 [MAGE-C1]) and 70% expressed MAGE-A3/6. Messenger RNA for CT7 and MAGE-A family members was detected in 87% and 100% of stage-III samples, respectively. CT7 protein expression increased with advanced stage of disease. Higher levels of CT7 and MAGE-A3/6 proteins also correlated with elevated plasma-cell proliferation. These results show that CT7 and MAGE-A3/6 are promising myeloma-associated antigens for application in vaccine immunotherapy. Furthermore, the common expression and correlation with proliferation suggest a possible pathogenic role for these proteins in myeloma.