Frequent and specific immunity to the embryonal stem cell-associated antigen SOX2 in patients with monoclonal gammopathy.
Specific targets of cellular immunity in human premalignancy are largely unknown. Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) represents a precursor lesion to myeloma (MM). We show that antigenic targets of spontaneous immunity in MGUS differ from MM. MGUS patients frequently mount a humoral and cellular immune response against SOX2, a gene critical for self-renewal in embryonal stem cells. Intranuclear expression of SOX2 marks the clonogenic CD138− compartment in MGUS. SOX2 expression is also detected in a proportion of CD138+ cells in MM patients. However, these patients lack anti-SOX2 immunity. Cellular immunity to SOX2 inhibits the clonogenic growth of MGUS cells in vitro. Detection of anti-SOX2 T cells predicts favorable clinical outcome in patients with asymptomatic plasmaproliferative disorders. Harnessing immunity to antigens expressed by tumor progenitor cells may be critical for prevention and therapy of human cancer.