Of several thousand peptides presented by the major histocompatibility molecule HLA-A2.1, at least nine are recognized by melanoma-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). Tandem mass spectrometry was used to identify and to sequence one of these peptide epitopes. Melanoma-specific CTLs had an exceptionally high affinity for this nine-residue peptide, which reconstituted an epitope for CTL lines from each of five different melanoma patients tested. Recognition by multiple CTL lines suggests that this may be a promising candidate for use in peptide-based melanoma vaccines.

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