is a protein antigen
found on melanocytes
. Antibodies against the antigen are used in the medical specialty of anatomic pathology
in order to recognize cells of melanocytic differentiation, useful for the diagnosis of a melanoma
. The same name is also used to refer to the gene which codes for the antigen.
The names MART-1 and Melan-A were coined by two groups of researchers who independently sequenced the gene for this antigen in 1994. Both names are currently in common use. Kawakami et al. at the National Cancer Institute coined the term MART-1, which stands for "Melanoma Antigen Recognized by T-cells." Coulie et al. of Belgium called the gene Melan-A, presumably an abbreviation for "melanocyte antigen."
The MART-1 / Melan-A antigen is specific for the melanocyte lineage, found in normal skin, the retina, and melanocytes, but not in other normal tissues. It is thus useful as a marker for melanocytic tumors (melanomas) with the caveat that it is normally found in benign nevi as well.
MART-1 / Melan-A is a putative 18 kDa transmembrane protein consisting of 118 amino acids. It has a single transmembrane domain.
- Kawakami Y, Eliyahu S, Delgado CH, Robbins PF, Rivoltini L, Topalian SL, Miki T, Rosenberg SA. Cloning of the gene coding for a shared human melanoma antigen recognized by autologous T cells infiltrating into tumor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Apr 26;91(9):3515-9. PMID 8170938
- Coulie PG, Brichard V, Van Pel A, Wolfel T, Schneider J, Traversari C, Mattei S, De Plaen E, Lurquin C, Szikora JP, Renauld JC, Boon T. A new gene coding for a differentiation antigen recognized by autologous cytolytic T lymphocytes on HLA-A2 melanomas. J Exp Med. 1994 Jul 1;180(1):35-42. PMID 8006593