Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) derived from tumor-bearing patients recognize tumor-associated antigens presented by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. The infusion of TIL586 along with interleukin (IL) 2 into an autologous patient with metastatic melanoma resulted in the objective regression of tumor. A gene encoding a tumor antigen recognized by TIL586 was recently isolated and shown to encode gp75. Here we report that an antigenic peptide, MSLQRQFLR, recognized by TIL586 was not derived from the normal gp75 protein. Instead, this nonamer peptide resulted from translation of an alternative open reading frame of the same gene. Thus, the gp75 gene encodes two completely different polypeptides, gp75 as an antigen recognized by immunoglobulin G antibodies in sera from a patient with cancer, and a 24-amino acid product as a tumor rejection antigen recognized by T cells. This represents the first demonstration that a human tumor rejection antigen can be generated from a normal cellular gene using an open reading frame other than that used to encode the normal protein. These findings revealed a novel mechanism for generating tumor antigens, which may be useful as vaccines to induce tumor-specific cell-mediated immunity against cancer.

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