Charles J. Flickinger, MD
Expression and function of cancer testis antigens during spermatogenesis
The Flickinger research group deals primarily with the male reproductive system, including studies of sperm antigens, epididymal secretion, and the effects of obstruction. In collaboration with Dr. John Herr, this group has discovered several novel cancer-testis antigens, including Span-x, a nuclear protein expressed during human spermatogenesis. Several forms of the Span-x gene were identified, and the proteins appear to be expressed only in the testis, among normal tissues, and in certain tumors including melanomas. Ongoing studies seek to learn more about the expression and function of this and other germ cell antigens during spermatogenesis and to define their expression in various tumors. Cancer-testis antigens are of interest as targets for immune therapy because they are not expressed in normal tissues except for testis, and an aim of their current studies using a proteomics approach is to define and characterize additional human cancer-testis antigens.