EGFR-Targeted Granzyme B Expressed in NK Cells Enhances Natural Cytotoxicity and Mediates Specific Killing of Tumor Cells
Robert A. Jabulowsky
Winfried S. Wels
- Natural killer (NK) cells are highly specialized effectors of the innate immune system that hold promise for adoptive cancer immunotherapy. Their cell killing activity is primarily mediated by the pro-apoptotic serine protease granzyme B (GrB), which enters targets cells with the help of the pore-forming protein perforin. We investigated expression of a chimeric GrB fusion protein in NK cells as a means to augment their antitumoral activity. For selective targeting to tumor cells, we fused the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) peptide ligand transforming growth factor α (TGFα) to human pre-pro-GrB. Established human NKL natural killer cells transduced with a lentiviral vector expressed this GrB-TGFα (GrB-T) molecule in amounts comparable to endogenous wildtype GrB. Activation of the genetically modified NK cells by cognate target cells resulted in the release of GrB-T together with endogenous granzymes and perforin, which augmented the effector cells' natural cytotoxicity against NK-sensitive tumor cells. Likewise, GrB-T was released into the extracellular space upon induction of degranulation with PMA and ionomycin. Secreted GrB-T fusion protein displayed specific binding to EGFR-overexpressing tumor cells, enzymatic activity, and selective target cell killing in the presence of an endosomolytic activity. Our data demonstrate that ectopic expression of a targeted GrB fusion protein in NK cells is feasible and can enhance antitumoral activity of the effector cells.
Novel Phylogenetic Algorithm to Monitor Human Tropism in Egyptian H5N1-HPAIV Reveals Evolution toward Efficient Human-to-Human Transmission
Vladimir R. Perovic
Claude P. Muller
Henry L. Niman
Dusan D. Tosic
- Years of endemic infections with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A subtype H5N1 virus in poultry and high numbers of infections in humans provide ample opportunity in Egypt for H5N1-HPAIV to develop pandemic potential. In an effort to better understand the viral determinants that facilitate human infections of the Egyptian H5N1-HPAIVvirus, we developed a new phylogenetic algorithm based on a new distance measure derived from the informational spectrum method (ISM). This new approach, which describes functional aspects of the evolution of the hemagglutinin subunit 1 (HA1), revealed a growing group G2 of H5N1-HPAIV in Egypt after 2009 that acquired new informational spectrum (IS) properties suggestive of an increased human tropism and pandemic potential. While in 2006 all viruses in Egypt belonged to the G1 group, by 2011 these viruses were virtually replaced by G2 viruses. All of the G2 viruses displayed four characteristic mutations (D43N, S120(D,N), (S,L)129Δ and I151T), three of which were previously reported to increase binding to the human receptor. Already in 2006–2008 G2 viruses were significantly (p<0.02) more often found in humans than expected from their overall prevalence and this further increased in 2009–2011 (p<0.007). Our approach also identified viruses that acquired additional mutations that we predict to further enhance their human tropism. The extensive evolution of Egyptian H5N1-HPAIV towards a preferential human tropism underlines an urgent need to closely monitor these viruses with respect to molecular determinants of virulence.
Cytotoxic capacity of IL-15-stimulated cytokine-induced killer cells against human acute myeloid leukemia and rhabdomyosarcoma in humanized preclinical mouse models
Winfried S. Wels
- Allogeneic stem cell transplantation (allo-SCT) has become an important treatment modality for patients with high-risk acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and is also under investigation for soft tissue sarcomas. The therapeutic success is still limited by minimal residual disease (MRD) status ultimately leading to patients’ relapse. Adoptive donor lymphocyte infusions based on MRD status using IL-15-expanded cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells may prevent relapse without causing graft-versus-host-disease (GvHD). To generate preclinical data we developed mouse models to study anti-leukemic- and anti-tumor-potential of CIK cells in vivo. Immunodeficient mice (NOD/SCID/IL-2Rγc−, NSG) were injected intravenously with human leukemic cell lines THP-1, SH-2 and with human rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) cell lines RH41 and RH30 at minimal doses required for leukemia or tumor engraftment. Mice transplanted with THP-1 or RH41 cells were randomly assigned for analysis of CIK cell treatment. Organs of mice were analyzed by flow cytometry as well as quantitative polymerase chain reaction for engraftment of malignant cells and CIK cells. Potential of CIK cells to induce GvHD was determined by histological analysis. Tissues of the highest degree of THP-1 cell expansion included bone marrow followed by liver, lung, spleen, peripheral blood (PB), and brain. RH30 and RH41 engraftment mainly took place in liver and lung, but was also detectable in spleen and PB. In spite of delayed CIK cell expansion compared with malignant cells, CIK cells injected at equal amounts were sufficient for significant reduction of RH41 cells, whereas against fast-expanding THP-1 cells 250 times more CIK than THP-1 cells were needed to achieve comparable results. Our preclinical in vivo mouse models showed a reliable 100% engraftment of malignant cells which is essential for analysis of anti-cancer therapy. Furthermore our data demonstrated that IL-15-activated CIK cells have potent cytotoxic capacity against AML and RMS cells without causing GvHD.