Four melanoma proteins, MART-1, gp100, tyrosinase, and tyrosinase-related protein-1 (gp75) were evaluated for recognition by HLA-A2-restricted melanoma-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) derived from the tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) of 10 different patients. 9 of 10 TIL recognized MART-1, 4 recognized gp100 (including 3 that also recognized MART-1), but none of the TIL recognized tyrosinase or gp75. Based on the known HLA-A2.1 peptide binding motifs, 23 peptides from MART-1 were synthesized in an attempt to identify the epitopes recognized by TIL. Three peptides were recognized by TIL when pulsed on T2 target cells. One of the 9-mer peptides, AAGIGILTV, was most effective in sensitizing the T2 cells for TIL lysis. This peptide was recognized by 9 of 10 HLA-A2-restricted melanoma-specific CTLs. Therefore, this peptide appears to be a very common immunogenic epitope for HLA-A2-restricted melanoma-specific TIL and may be useful for the development of immunotherapeutic strategies.

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