Tumor subtype-specific cancer-testis antigens as potential biomarkers and immunotherapeutic targets for cancers

Jun Yao, Otavia L. Caballero, W. K.Alfred Yung, John N. Weinstein, Gregory J. Riggins, Robert L. Strausberg, Qi Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cancer-testis (CT) antigens are potential targets for cancer immunotherapy because of their restricted expression in immune-privileged germ cells and various malignancies. Current application of CT-based immunotherapy has been focused on CT expression-rich tumors such as melanoma and lung cancers. In this study, we surveyed CT expression using The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) datasets for ten common cancer types. We show that CT expression is specific and enriched within certain cancer molecular subtypes. For example, HORMAD1, CXorf61, ACTL8, and PRAME are highly enriched in the basal subtype of breast cancer; MAGE and CSAG are most frequently activated in the magnoid subtype of lung adenocarcinoma; and PRAME is highly upregulated in the ccB subtype of clear cell renal cell carcinoma. Analysis of CT gene expression and DNA methylation indicates that some CTs are regulated epigenetically, whereas others are controlled primarily by tissue- and subtype-specific transcription factors. Our results suggest that although for some CT expression is associated with patient outcome, not many are independent prognostic markers. Thus, CTs with shared expression pattern are heterogeneous molecules with distinct activation modes and functional properties in different cancers and cancer subtypes. These data suggest a cancer subtype-orientated application of CT antigen as biomarkers and immunotherapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-379
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Immunology Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cancer Research


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