The MAGE-A, MAGE-B, and MAGE-C protein families comprise the class-I MAGE/cancer testes antigens, a group of highly homologous proteins whose expression is suppressed in all normal tissues except developing sperm. Aberrant expression of class I MAGE proteins occurs in melanomas and many other malignancies, and MAGE proteins have long been recognized as tumor-specific targets; however, their functions have largely been unknown. Here, we show that suppression of class I MAGE proteins induces apoptosis in the Hs-294T, A375, and S91 MAGE-positive melanoma cell lines and that members of all three families of MAGE class I proteins form complexes with KAP1, a scaffolding protein that is known as a corepressor of p53 expression and function. In addition to inducing apoptosis, MAGE suppression decreases KAP1 complexing with p53, increases immunoreactive and acetylated p53, and activates a p53 responsive reporter gene. Suppression of class I MAGE proteins also induces apoptosis in MAGE-A-positive, p53wt/wt parental HCT 116 colon cancer cells but not in a MAGE-A-positive HCT 116 p53-/- variant, indicating that MAGE suppression of apoptosis requires p53. Finally, treatment with MAGE-specific small interfering RNA suppresses S91 melanoma growth in vivo, in syngenic DBA2 mice. Thus, class I MAGE protein expression may suppress apoptosis by suppressing p53 and may actively contribute to the development of malignancies and by promoting tumor survival. Because the expression of class I MAGE proteins is limited in normal tissues, inhibition of MAGE antigen expression or function represents a novel and specific treatment for melanoma and diverse malignancies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research