Evaluation of immunotherapy strategies in mouse models of carcinoma is hampered by the limited number of known murine tumor antigens (Ags). Although tumor Ags can be identified based on cytotoxic T-cell activation, this approach is not readily accomplished for many tumor types. We applied an alternative strategy based on a humoral immune response, SEREX, to the identification of tumor Ags in the murine colon adenocarcinoma cell line MC38. Immunization of syngeneic C57BL/6 mice with MC38 cells by three different methods induced a protective immune response with concomitant production of anti-MC38 antibodies. Immunoscreening of an MC38-derived expression library resulted in the identification of the endogenous ecotropic leukemia virus envelope (env) protein and the murine ATRX protein as candidate tumor Ags. Northern blot analysis demonstrated high levels of expression of the env transcript in MC38 cells and in several other murine tumor cell lines, whereas expression in normal colonic epithelium was absent. ATRX was found to be variably expressed in tumor cell lines and in normal tissue. Further analysis of the expressed env sequence indicated that it represents a nonmutated tumor Ag. Polynucleotide immunization with DNA encoding the env polypeptide resulted in strong and specific antibody responses to this self Ag in all immunized mice. Thus, SEREX offers a rapid means of identifying tumor Ags in murine cancer models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-455
Number of pages10
JournalCancer gene therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


  • ATRX
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Antibody
  • Endogenous retrovirus
  • Tumor antigen


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