Molecular pathways: Human leukocyte antigen G(HLA-G)

Giuseppe Curigliano, Carmen Criscitiello, Lucia Gelao, Aron Goldhirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human leukocyte antigen G (HLA-G) is a nonclassical MHC class I molecule that exerts important tolerogenic functions. Its main physiologic expression occurs in the placenta, where it participates in the maternal tolerance toward the fetus. HLA-G expression was found in embryonic tissues, in adult immune privileged organs, and in cells of the hematopoietic lineage. It is expressed in various types of primary solid (melanoma, head and neck, lung, urogenital, gastrointestinal, and breast cancers) and hematologic malignancies (acute leukemia, lymphomas) and metastases. HLA-G ectopic expression is observed in cancer, suggesting that its expression is one strategy used by tumor cells to escape immune surveillance. In this review, we will focus on HLA-G expression in cancers and its association with the prognosis. We will highlight the underlying molecular mechanisms of impaired HLA-G expression, the immune tolerant function of HLA-G in tumors, and the potential diagnostic use of membrane-bound and soluble HLA-G as a biomarker to identify tumors and to monitor disease stage. As HLA-G is a potent immunoinhibitory molecule, its blockade remains an attractive therapeutic strategy against cancer. Elimination of HLA-G-expressing cancer cells would be important in the efficacy of anticancer therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5564-5571
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 15 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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