Bispecific costimulatory molecules for activation of tumor-killing lymphocytes
Winfried S. Wels
- The receptor tyrosine kinase ErbB2 (HER2) is overexpressed in multiple human tumors of epithelial origin. High ErbB2 expression is functionally involved in tumorigenesis and correlates with poor clinical prognosis. For immunotherapy of ErbB2 expressing tumors, we developed a strategy to supply the tumor cells with costimulatory activity. A bispecific fusion protein was constructed (BIg5), containing the IgV-like domain of huCD86, the CH2/CH3 domain of huIgG1 and the ErbB2-specific single chain antibody fragment scFv(FRP5). A similar fusion protein lacking the CD86 domain (Ig5) was used as a control. Upon binding of BIg5 to ErbB2 on tumor cells, these cells display CD86 on their surface and thus can deliver costimulatory signals for T-cell activation. In addition, NK cells could be activated by CD86 binding to CD28. BIg5 is secreted by eukaryotic cells as a homodimer with increased stability compared to monomers and possibly enhanced costimulatory activity due to crosslinking of CD28 on effector cells. By FACS analysis, specific binding of the scFv(FRP5) domain to ErbB2 as well as CD86 IgV binding to CTLA-4 could be demonstrated. Together with anti-CD3 antibody, BIg5 stimulates proliferation of human CD2-purified lymphocytes in vitro. After binding to ErbB2 on murine Renca-lacZ/ErbB2 tumor cells, about 50% of initially bound BIg5 is still present on the cell surface after 4 hours. For delivery of chimeric fusion proteins in vivo, we used syngeneic, stably transfected HC11 mammary epithelial cells continuously secreting the proteins. Inoculation of these bystander cells close to subcutaneously growing Renca-lacZ/ErbB2 tumors should provide a long-lasting source to achieve high local concentrations of BIg5 at the tumor site. In vivo HC11-BIg5 cells proved to be non-tumorigenic and secreted BIg5 for several weeks, causing a strong anti-BIg5 antibody response. Treatment of established Renca-lacZ/ErbB2 or ErbB2-negative Renca-lacZ tumors by peritumoral inoculation of either HC11-BIg5 or HC11-Ig5 cells led to rejection of all Renca-lacZ/ErbB2, but none of the Renca-lacZ tumors. HC11neo control cells had no effect on tumor growth. Rejection of ErbB2+ tumors led to long-term protection also against subsequent challenge with intravenously injected ErbB2- tumor cells. Intraperitoneal injection of bystander cells secreting the fusion proteins did not lead to tumor regression suggesting that high local concentrations at the tumor site are necessary to target ErbB2 on tumor cells and to overcome elimination of BIg5 or Ig5 by neutralizing antibodies. The CD86 IgV domain of BIg5 did not play a major role in the observed antitumoral immune response suggesting NK-cell mediated ADCC as the initial effector mechanism followed by activation of tumor specific T cells. Targeting of ErbB2 on tumor cells with antibody fusion proteins that interact specifically with the host immune system could be an efficient and specific approach for therapy of solid ErbB2+ tumors.
Target-specific glioma therapy in an immunocompetent mouse model : meeting abstract
- Objective: Establishment of an immunocompetent mouse model representing the typical progressive stages observed in malignant human gliomas for the in vivo evaluation of novel target-specific regimens. Methods: Isolated clones from tumours that arose spontaneously in GFAP-v-src transgenic mice were used to develop a transplantable brain tumour model in syngeneic B6C3F1 mice. STAT3 protein was knocked down by infection of tumour cells with replication-defective lentivirus encoding STAT3-siRNA. Apoptosis is designed to be induced by soluble recombinant TRAIL + chemical Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibitors. Results: Striatal implantation of 105 mouse tumour cells resulted in the robust development of microscopically (2 – 3 mm) infiltrating malignant gliomas. Immunohistochemically, the gliomas displayed the astroglial marker GFAP and the oncogenic form of STAT3 (Tyr-705-phosphorylated) which is found in many malignancies including gliomas. Phosphorylated STAT3 was particularly prominent in the nucleus but was also found at the plasma membrane of peripherally infiltrating glioma cells. To evaluate the role of STAT3 in tumour progression, we stably expressed siRNA against STAT3 in several murine glioma cell lines. The effect of STAT3 depletion on proliferation, invasion and survival will be first assessed in vitro and subsequently after transplantation in vivo. Upstream and downstream components of the STAT3 signalling pathway as well as possible non-specific side effects of STAT3-siRNA expression after lentiviral infection will be examined, too. Conclusions: Its high rate of engraftment, its similarity to the malignant glioma of origin, and its rapid locally invasive growth should make this murine model useful in testing novel therapies for malignant gliomas.
Genetically modified natural killer cells specifically recognizing the tumor-associated antigens ErbB2/HER2 and EpCAM
Winfried S. Wels
- The continuously growing natural killer (NK) cell line NK-92 is highly cytotoxic against malignant cells of various origin without affecting normal human cells. Based on this selectivity, the potential of NK-92 cells for adoptive therapy is currently being investigated in phase I clinical studies. To further enhance the antitumoral activity of NK-92 cells and expand the range of tumor entities suitable for NK-92-based therapies, here by transduction with retroviral vectors we have generated genetically modified NK-92 cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors specific either for the tumor-associated ErbB2 (HER2/neu) antigen or the human Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule (Ep-CAM). Both antigens are overexpressed by many tumors of epithelial origin. The chimeric antigen receptors consist of either the ErbB2 specific scFv(FRP5) antibody fragment or the Ep-CAM specific scFv(MOC31), a flexible hinge region derived from CD8, and transmembrane and intracellular regions of the CD3 zeta chain. Transduced NK-92-scFv(FRP5)-zeta or NK-92-scFv(MOC31)-zeta cells express high levels of the fusion proteins on the cell surface as determined by FACS analysis. In europium release assays no difference in cytotoxic activity of NK-92 and transduced NK-92 cells towards ErbB2 or Ep-CAM negative targets was found. However, even at low effector to target ratios transduced NK-92 cells specifically and efficiently lysed established ErbB2 or Ep-CAM expressing tumor cells that were completely resistant to cytolytic activity of parental NK-92 cells. Similarly, ErbB2-positive primary breast cancer cells isolated from pleural effusions of patients with recurrent disease were selectively killed by NK-92-scFv(FRP5)-zeta. In an in vivo model in immunodeficient mice treatment with retargeted NK-92-scFv(FRP5)-zeta, but not parental NK-92 cells resulted in markedly delayed growth of ErbB2 transformed cancer cells. These results demonstrate that efficient retargeting of NK-92 cytotoxicity can be achieved, and might allow the generation of potent cell-based therapeutics for the treatment of ErbB2 and Ep-CAM expressing malignancies. This therapeutic approach might be applicable for a large variety of different cancers where suitable cell surface antigens have been identified.
Functional Characterization of Two scFv-Fc Antibodies from an HIV Controller Selected on Soluble HIV-1 Env Complexes: A Neutralizing V3- and a Trimer-Specific gp41 Antibody
Hagen von Briesen
- HIV neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) represent an important tool in view of prophylactic and therapeutic applications for HIV-1 infection. Patients chronically infected by HIV-1 represent a valuable source for nAbs. HIV controllers, including long-term non-progressors (LTNP) and elite controllers (EC), represent an interesting subgroup in this regard, as here nAbs can develop over time in a rather healthy immune system and in the absence of any therapeutic selection pressure. In this study, we characterized two particular antibodies that were selected as scFv antibody fragments from a phage immune library generated from an LTNP with HIV neutralizing antibodies in his plasma. The phage library was screened on recombinant soluble gp140 envelope (Env) proteins. Sequencing the selected peptide inserts revealed two major classes of antibody sequences. Binding analysis of the corresponding scFv-Fc derivatives to various trimeric and monomeric Env constructs as well as to peptide arrays showed that one class, represented by monoclonal antibody (mAb) A2, specifically recognizes an epitope localized in the pocket binding domain of the C heptad repeat (CHR) in the ectodomain of gp41, but only in the trimeric context. Thus, this antibody represents an interesting tool for trimer identification. MAb A7, representing the second class, binds to structural elements of the third variable loop V3 and neutralizes tier 1 and tier 2 HIV-1 isolates of different subtypes with matching critical amino acids in the linear epitope sequence. In conclusion, HIV controllers are a valuable source for the selection of functionally interesting antibodies that can be selected on soluble gp140 proteins with properties from the native envelope spike.
Protection of stem cell-derived lymphocytes in a primate AIDS gene therapy model after in vivo selection
Grant D. Trobridge
Robert A. Wu
Brian C. Beard
Sum Ying Chiu
Nina M. Muñoz
Dorothee von Laer
John J. Rossi
- Background: There is currently no effective AIDS vaccine, emphasizing the importance of developing alternative therapies. Recently, a patient was successfully transplanted with allogeneic, naturally resistant CCR5-negative (CCR5 delta 32) cells, setting the stage for transplantation of naturally resistant, or genetically modified stem cells as a viable therapy for AIDS. Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gene therapy using vectors that express various anti-HIV transgenes has also been attempted in clinical trials, but inefficient gene transfer in these studies has severely limited the potential of this approach. Here we evaluated HSC gene transfer of an anti-HIV vector in the pigtailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina) model, which closely models human transplantation. Methods and Findings: We used lentiviral vectors that inhibited both HIV-1 and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)/HIV-1 (SHIV) chimera virus infection, and also expressed a P140K mutant methylguanine methyltransferase (MGMT) transgene to select gene-modified cells by adding chemotherapy drugs. Following transplantation and MGMT-mediated selection we demonstrated transgene expression in over 7% of stem-cell derived lymphocytes. The high marking levels allowed us to demonstrate protection from SHIV in lymphocytes derived from gene-modified macaque long-term repopulating cells that expressed an HIV-1 fusion inhibitor. We observed a statistically significant 4-fold increase of gene-modified cells after challenge of lymphocytes from one macaque that received stem cells transduced with an anti-HIV vector (p<0.02, Student's t-test), but not in lymphocytes from a macaque that received a control vector. We also established a competitive repopulation assay in a second macaque for preclinical testing of promising anti-HIV vectors. The vectors we used were HIV-based and thus efficiently transduce human cells, and the transgenes we used target HIV-1 genes that are also in SHIV, so our findings can be rapidly translated to the clinic. Conclusions: Here we demonstrate the ability to select protected HSC-derived lymphocytes in vivo in a clinically relevant nonhuman primate model of HIV/SHIV infection. This approach can now be evaluated in human clinical trials in AIDS lymphoma patients. In this patient setting, chemotherapy would not only kill malignant cells, but would also increase the number of MGMTP140K-expressing HIV-resistant cells. This approach should allow for high levels of HIV-protected cells in AIDS patients to evaluate AIDS gene therapy.
The viral vector vaccine VSV-GP boosts immune response upon repeated applications
Lisa Mareike Egerer
Dorothee von Laer
- Poster presentation AIDS Vaccine 2012 Boston, MA, USA. 9-12 September 2012
Background: Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a potent candidate vaccine vector for various viral diseases (e.g. HIV, HCV, RSV). The biggest limitation of VSV, however, is its neurotoxicity, which limits application in humans. The second drawback is that VSV induces neutralizing antibodies rapidly and is thus ineffective as a vaccine vector upon repeated applications. Our group has recently shown that VSV pseudotyped with the glycoprotein (GP) of the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), VSV-GP, is not neurotoxic. The aim of this project was to evaluate the potential of VSV-GP as a vaccine vector.
Methods: For this purpose, we used Ovalbumin (OVA) as a model antigen and analyzed immunogenicity of GP-pseudotyped and wildtype VSV containing OVA (VSV-GP-OVA and VSV-OVA) in vitro and in vivo in mouse models.
Results: We showed that both vectors infected murine bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (bmDCs) in vitro. These bmDCs were able to activate OVA specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells. Immunization experiments in mice revealed that both VSV-OVA and VSV-GP-OVA induced functional OVA-specific cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) after a single immunization. In addition, with both viruses, mice generated antibodies against OVA. However, boosting with the same virus was only possible for the GP-pseudotyped virus but not for wild type VSV. The efficacy of repeated immunization with VSV-OVA was most likely limited by high levels of neutralizing antibodies, which we detected after the first immunization. In contrast, no neutralizing antibodies against VSV-GP were induced even after boosting.
Conclusion: Taken together, we showed that the non-neurotoxic VSV-GP is able to induce specific T cell and B cell responses against the model antigen OVA to the same level as the wild type VSV vector. However, in contrast to wild type VSV, VSV-GP-OVA boosted the immune response upon repeated applications. Thus, VSV-GP is a promising novel vaccine vector.
From bench to bedside: preclinical evaluation of a self-inactivating gammaretroviral vector for the gene therapy of X-linked chronic granulomatous disease
Mohammed A. Sadat
Kerstin B. Kaufmann
Nancy K. Pech
Jeffrey B. Travers
Juan D. Matute
Robert G. Presson Jr.
George E. Sandusky
Christof von Kalle
Mary C. Dinauer
- Chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) is a primary immunodeficiency characterized by impaired antimicrobial activity in phagocytic cells. As a monogenic disease affecting the hematopoietic system, CGD is amenable to gene therapy. Indeed in a phase I/II clinical trial, we demonstrated a transient resolution of bacterial and fungal infections. However, the therapeutic benefit was compromised by the occurrence of clonal dominance and malignant transformation demanding alternative vectors with equal efficacy but safety-improved features. In this work we have developed and tested a self-inactivating (SIN) gammaretroviral vector (SINfes.gp91s) containing a codon-optimized transgene (gp91(phox)) under the transcriptional control of a myeloid promoter for the gene therapy of the X-linked form of CGD (X-CGD). Gene-corrected cells protected X-CGD mice from Aspergillus fumigatus challenge at low vector copy numbers. Moreover, the SINfes.gp91s vector generates substantial amounts of superoxide in human cells transplanted into immunodeficient mice. In vitro genotoxicity assays and longitudinal high-throughput integration site analysis in transplanted mice comprising primary and secondary animals for 11 months revealed a safe integration site profile with no signs of clonal dominance.
Genomic instability and myelodysplasia with monosomy 7 consequent to EVI1 activation after gene therapy for chronic granulomatous disease
Marion Gabriele Ott
Adrian J. Thrasher
Christof von Kalle
- Gene-modified autologous hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) can provide ample clinical benefits to subjects suffering from X-linked chronic granulomatous disease (X-CGD), a rare inherited immunodeficiency characterized by recurrent, often life-threatening bacterial and fungal infections. Here we report on the molecular and cellular events observed in two young adults with X-CGD treated by gene therapy in 2004. After the initial resolution of bacterial and fungal infections, both subjects showed silencing of transgene expression due to methylation of the viral promoter, and myelodysplasia with monosomy 7 as a result of insertional activation of ecotropic viral integration site 1 (EVI1). One subject died from overwhelming sepsis 27 months after gene therapy, whereas a second subject underwent an allogeneic HSC transplantation. Our data show that forced overexpression of EVI1 in human cells disrupts normal centrosome duplication, linking EVI1 activation to the development of genomic instability, monosomy 7 and clonal progression toward myelodysplasia.
Role of p53 serine 46 in p53 target gene regulation
Simon J. van Heeringen
Hendrik G. Stunnenberg
- The tumor suppressor p53 plays a crucial role in cellular growth control inducing a plethora of different response pathways. The molecular mechanisms that discriminate between the distinct p53-responses have remained largely elusive. Here, we have analyzed the p53-regulated pathways induced by Actinomycin D and Etoposide treatment resulting in more growth arrested versus apoptotic cells respectively. We found that the genome-wide p53 DNA-binding patterns are almost identical upon both treatments notwithstanding transcriptional differences that we observed in global transcriptome analysis. To assess the role of post-translational modifications in target gene choice and activation we investigated the genome-wide level of phosphorylation of Serine 46 of p53 bound to DNA (p53-pS46) and of Serine 15 (p53-pS15). Interestingly, the extent of S46 phosphorylation of p53 bound to DNA is considerably higher in cells directed towards apoptosis while the degree of phosphorylation at S15 remains highly similar. Moreover, our data suggest that following different chemotherapeutical treatments, the amount of chromatin-associated p53 phosphorylated at S46 but not at pS15 is higher on certain apoptosis related target genes. Our data provide evidence that cell fate decisions are not made primarily on the level of general p53 DNA-binding and that post-translationally modified p53 can have distinct DNA-binding characteristics.
Recombinant DNA-carrier proteins with improved intracellular trafficking capabilities for nonviral gene delivery
- Safety concerns associated with the use of viral vectors in gene therapy applications have attracted considerable attention towards the development of nonviral vectors as alternatives for DNA delivery. While nonviral vectors are commonly not associated with safety problems, they are still very inefficient compared to viral vectors, and require significant improvements to approach the efficiency of their viral counterparts. Meanwhile ligands or single-chain antibody fragments that bind to cell surface receptors for increased and/or specific cellular uptake, endosome escape activities, and nuclear localization sequences (NLSs) to enhance transport of plasmid DNA into the nucleus, have become available that can be incorporated into nonviral vectors to improve their efficacy. However, as gene delivery is a multistep process, the challenge is to incorporate multiple of these functional elements into a single nonviral vector system, while retaining their specific activities. A promising method to attach such entities to plasmid DNA is the use of multifunctional fusion proteins that bind to DNA through a DNA-binding domain. In principle, two types of DNA-binding domains/proteins can be used to anchor additional functional domains or peptides to a plasmid, namely sequence-specific DNA-binding domains, described in the first part of this thesis, or those that bind DNA independent of its sequence, exemplified in the second part of this work by a derivative of the human HMGB2 protein. The first fusion protein constructed and analyzed contained the E. coli LexA repressor as a sequence-specific DNA-binding domain. In addition, this DNA-carrier protein, termed TEL, included a bacterial translocation domain as an integrated endosome escape activity, and human TGF-a for specific targeting to the EGF-receptor (EGFR). TEL was expressed in E. coli and purified under both native and denaturing conditions. Purified, denatured TEL was refolded and subsequently shown to bind specifically to EGFR-expressing cells. However, inclusion of TEL in complexes of plasmid DNA and poly-L-lysine (pL) did not lead to increased gene delivery into EGFR-expressing COS-1 cells. Most likely this was due to the absence of DNA-binding activity of the LexA moiety in TEL. In contrast, native TEL was able to interact specifically with DNA. Nevertheless, since this interaction was rather weak, and refolding of denatured TEL had not resulted in functional activity of all of its protein domains, it seemed unlikely that fusion proteins containing LexA would exhibit gene transfer capabilities superior to those of similar DNA-carrier proteins previously constructed in our group. Further work therefore focused on the use of the E2C-Sp1C protein as an alternative sequencespecific DNA-binding domain. This artificial zinc-finger protein was fused to the single-chain antibody fragment scFv(FRP5), directed against the human ErbB2 growth factor receptor. The resulting 5-E2C fusion protein was expressed in E. coli and purified under native and denaturing conditions. Refolded and native 5-E2C were found to bind specifically to ErbB2-expressing cells, indicating that scFv(FRP5) in 5-E2C was functional in both preparations. In contrast, whereas refolded 5-E2C bound DNA only weakly, significant DNA binding was observed for native 5-E2C. In addition, it could not only be shown that the interaction of native 5-E2C with DNA containing its recognition sequence was specific, but also that this protein was able to bind DNA and recombinant ErbB2 simultaneously, demonstrating the functionality of both domains in native 5-E2C. Despite these encouraging results, the inclusion of native 5-E2C in pL- or polyethyleneimine (PEI)-DNA complexes did not lead to an (5-E2C-specific) enhancement of gene transfer efficiency, irrespective of the presence of the endosome-disruptive reagent chloroquine during transfection. In the second part of this thesis an alternative approach for the development of DNA-carrier proteins for nonviral gene delivery is described, based on human HMGB2, a DNA-binding protein without sequence specificity. HMGB2 contains an acidic C-terminus that has been found to decrease the affinity of the protein for DNA. Therefore, this C-terminal tail was deleted, resulting in an HMGB2-variant consisting of amino acids 1-186. HMGB2186, purified under native conditions from E. coli lysates, was able to interact with DNA and bound to the surface of different cell lines. Importantly, after binding to plasmid DNA HMGB2186 mediated gene delivery into COS-7 cells with higher efficiency than pL. In addition, HMGB2186-mediated gene transfer was strongly enhanced in the presence of chloroquine, indicating that the endocytic pathway was involved in cellular uptake. To improve internalization and intracellular routing of HMGB2186 as a DNA-carrier, a derivative containing the TAT47-57 cell-penetrating peptide (CPP), reported to facilitate cell entry independent of endocytosis, was constructed. Since this peptide also contains an NLS, in addition an HGMB2186-variant containing the SV40-NLS was constructed to investigate the effect of a peptide that has only nuclear localizing properties. Interestingly, the resulting TAT-HMGB2186 and SV40-HMGB2186 fusion proteins displayed DNA-binding activities similar to HMGB2186, but mediated gene delivery into different cell lines clearly more efficiently than the parental molecule. Furthermore, the efficacy of both fusion proteins was enhanced markedly in the presence of chloroquine, an indication that endocytosis was involved in the transfection process mediated by these proteins. This suggests that the increased transfection efficiency observed for TAT-HMGB2186 was more likely due to the NLS function present in the TAT47-57 peptide, rather than to its ‘cell penetrating properties’. Finally, the incorporation of functional peptides derived from human proteins into HMGB2186 was investigated. An uncharged CPP originating from Kaposi-FGF, reported to facilitate efficient cellular uptake of fused protein domains in an endocytosis-independent manner, was fused to HMGB2186 together with the SV40-NLS. Interestingly, the resulting KSV40-HMGB2186 fusion protein bound DNA similarly as previously tested DNA-carrier proteins, but did not mediate enhanced transfection compared to HMGB2186. In addition, the importin-b-binding (IBB) domain derived from human importin-a2 was investigated as a component of a DNA-carrier protein. Since the IBB domain can function as an NLS, it was fused to HMGB2186 resulting in the DNA-carrier protein IBBHMGB2186. Although IBB-HMGB2186 bound DNA in a similar manner as the other HMGB2186-derivatives, gene delivery mediated by IBB-HMGB2186 was only as effective as HMGB2186 mediated transfection, suggesting no significant role of the IBB domain. However, addition of chloroquine resulted in a remarkable enhancement of IBB-HMGB2186-mediated gene transfer, which was now more efficient than with any other HMGB2186-variant tested, and not much lower than gene transfer mediated by PEI, one of the most efficient transfection reagents available to date. To enhance nonviral gene delivery even further, the HMGB2186-based DNA-carrier proteins described in this thesis might now serve as building blocks for novel fusion proteins that include additional complementing activities. In this respect it seems particularly promising that, under conditions of effective end some escape, IBB-HMGB2186, which consists entirely of protein domains of human origin, was the most efficient of all proteins tested in this work.