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The first tumor-specific shared antigens and the cancer-germline genes that code for these antigens were identified with antitumor cytolytic T lymphocytes obtained from cancer patients. A few HLA class I-restricted antigenic peptides were identified by this 'direct approach'. A large set of additional cancer-germline genes have now been identified by purely genetic approaches or by screening tumor cDNA expression libraries with the serum of cancer patients. As a result, a vast number of sequences are known that can code for tumor-specific shared antigens, but most of the encoded antigenic peptides have not yet been identified. We review here recent 'reverse immunology' approaches for the identification of new antigenic peptides. They are based on in vitro stimulation of naive T cells with dendritic cells that have either been loaded with a cancer-germline protein or that have been transduced with viruses carrying cancer-germline coding sequences. These approaches have led to the identification of many new antigenic peptides presented by class I or class II molecules. We also describe some aspects of the processing and presentation of these antigenic peptides.


Journal article


Immunol Rev

Publication Date





51 - 64


Amino Acid Sequence, Antigen Presentation, Antigens, Neoplasm, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cancer Vaccines, Chromosomes, Human, X, Cloning, Molecular, Consensus Sequence, Dendritic Cells, Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte, HLA Antigens, Humans, Male, Molecular Sequence Data, Multigene Family, Neoplasms, Organ Specificity, Peptide Fragments, T-Lymphocytes, Testis, Transduction, Genetic, Vaccines, Subunit