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Oct 16, 2006
 |  BioCentury  |  Tools & Techniques

Understanding the translation

The idea of tumor-specific antigens is hardly new, but much of the work has focused on the expression of a mutant gene that produces a mutant protein, which then serves as an epitope. Another approach has been demonstrated by papers published separately in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Science, which describe ways to identify tumor-specific antigens that are generated by post-translational modifications of wild-type proteins.

The PNAS paper demonstrates the potential of using class I MHC-associated phosphopeptides, which are generated through the degradation of intracellular proteins, as components of cancer immunotherapeutics that could potentially raise T cell responses against cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed.

The Science paper shows that membrane proteins modified to form abnormal carbohydrate epitopes can be used as the targets of highly specific antibody therapeutics.

Both approaches exploit cancer-specific post-translational modifications to proteins that result from aberrations found in cancer cells, but not in normal cells.

Baiting T cells

Researchers from the University of Virginia published in PNAS a comparative analysis of phosphopeptides presented on the surface of melanoma, ovarian carcinoma and B lymphoblastoid cell line (BLCL).

"We looked for phosphorylated peptides derived from those proteins potentially associated with transformation that are being presented...

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