Human SSX genes comprise a gene family with 6 known members. SSX1, 2 and 4 have been found to be involved in the t(X;18) translocation characteristically found in all synovial sarcomas. Four (SSX1, 2, 4 and 5) are known to be expressed in a subset of tumors and testis, and anti-SSX antibodies have been found in sera from cancer patients. SSX antigens are thus typical cancer-testis (CT) antigens. To identify additional SSX family members, we isolated and characterized human genomic clones homologous to a prototype SSX cDNA. We also searched public databases for sequences similar to SSX. This identified 3 additional SSX genes, SSX7, 8, 9, and also completed the sequence of the formerly partially defined SSX6 gene. In addition to these novel SSX genes, several SSX pseudogenes were identified. With the exception of 1 pseudogene, all SSX genomic SSX sequences map to chromosome X. Among normal tissues, SSX7 mRNA was present only in testis, whereas SSX6, 8 and 9 were not detected in any normal tissue. SSX6 and 7 were expressed in I of 9 melanoma cell lines tested, whereas SSX8 and 9 expression was not detected in any tumor tissue or cell lines tested. SSX1, 2, 4 and 5 mRNA expression can be induced in cell lines by 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine or Trichostatin A. These agents also induce SSX6, but not SSX3, 7, 8 or 9 in the tumor cell lines tested, indicating that mechanisms other than methylation or histone acetylation may be responsible for the repressed state of some SSX genes. (C) 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.