NK cells detect tumors through activating surface receptors, which bind selfantigens that are frequently expressed upon malignant transformation. To increase the recognition of tumor cells, the extracellular domains of ligands of the activating NK cell receptors NKp30, NKp80 and DNAM-1 (i.e. B7-H6, AICL and PVR, respectively) were fused to a single-chain fragment variable (scFv) targeting the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which is displayed by various solid tumors. The resulting immunoligands, designated B7-H6:HER2-scFv, AICL:HER2-scFv, and PVR:HER2-scFv, respectively, bound HER2 and the addressed NK cell receptor. However, whereas B7-H6:HER2-scFv and AICL:HER2-scFv triggered NK cells to kill HER2-positive breast cancer cells at nanomolar concentrations, PVR:HER2-scFv was not efficacious. Moreover, NK cell cytotoxicity was enhanced synergistically when B7-H6:HER2-scFv or AICL:HER2-scFv were applied in combination with another HER2- specific immunoligand engaging the stimulatory receptor NKG2D. In contrast, no improvements were achieved by combining B7-H6:HER2-scFv with AICL:HER2-scFv. Additionally, B7-H6:HER2-scFv and AICL:HER2-scFv enhanced antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) by the therapeutic antibodies trastuzumab and cetuximab synergistically, with B7-H6:HER2-scFv exhibiting a higher efficacy. In summary, antibody-derived proteins engaging NKp30 or NKp80 may represent attractive biologics to further enhance anti-tumor NK cell responses and may provide an innovative approach to sensitize tumor cells for antibody-based immunotherapy.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)