Rhabdomyosarcomas are potential target of MAGE-specific immunotherapies

Silvia Tanzarella, Ilaria Lionello, Barbara Valentinis, Vincenzo Russo, Pier Luigi Lollini, Catia Traversari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The search for alternative strategies of therapy remains a major issue for most neoplastic diseases. The expression of several tumor antigens makes human rhabdomyosarcomas, which are the most frequent form of soft tissue tumor in children, a good candidate for tumor-specific immunotherapy. To assess the feasibility of this approach, we evaluated the ability of rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines to process and present the MAGE-A tumor antigens to effectors of the immune system. To this end, we investigated recognition of MAGE-A-positive rhabdomyosarcoma cells by HLA-B*3701-restricted T cells specific for a MAGE-A-derived peptide. Low level of HLA expression impaired recognition of the tumor cells. Therefore, to obtain HLA expression avoiding the use of IFN-γ and TNF-α, which could affect the proteasome activity, a rhabdomyosarcoma line was transduced by a retroviral vector encoding the HLA-B*3701 allele. Recognition of the infected cells was then observed also in the absence of IFN-γ and TNF-α treatment, thus demonstrating that rhabdomyosarcoma cells were indeed able to naturally process and present the MAGE-A antigens. These results demonstrate that rhabdomyosarcoma cells expressing MAGE-A can be targets of tumor-specific effectors, suggesting the feasibility of clinical protocols of specific immunotherapy also for the treatment of rhabdomyosarcoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-524
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004


  • Immunotherapy
  • MAGE
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Tumor antigens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Immunology
  • Oncology


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