The immune system can recognize differentiation antigens that are selectively expressed on malignant cells and their normal cell counterparts. However, it is uncertain whether immunity to differentiation antigens can effectively lead to tumor rejection. The mouse brown locus protein, gp75 or tyrosinase-related protein 1, is a melanocyte differentiation antigen expressed by melanomas and normal melanocytes. The gp75 antigen is recognized by autoantibodies and autoreactive T cells in persons with melanoma. To model autoimmunity against a melanocyte differentiation antigen, mouse antibodies against gp75 were passively transferred into tumor-bearing mice. Passive immunization with a mouse monoclonal antibody against gp75 induced protection and rejection of both subcutaneous tumors and lung metastases in syngeneic C57BL/6 mice, including established tumors. Passive immunity produced coat color alterations but only in regenerating hairs. This system provides a model for autoimmune vitiligo and shows that immune responses to melanocyte differentiation antigens can influence mouse coat color. Immune recognition of a melanocyte differentiation antigen can reject tumors, providing a basis for targeting tissue autoantigens expressed on cancer.

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