Publications by authors named "Amy K Erbe"

23 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Radiation Augments the Local Anti-Tumor Effect of Vaccine With CpG-Oligodeoxynucleotides and Anti-OX40 in Immunologically Cold Tumor Models.

Front Immunol 2021 15;12:763888. Epub 2021 Nov 15.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, United States.

Introduction: Combining CpG oligodeoxynucleotides with anti-OX40 agonist antibody (CpG+OX40) is able to generate an effective vaccine in some tumor models, including the A20 lymphoma model. Immunologically "cold" tumors, which are typically less responsive to immunotherapy, are characterized by few tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), low mutation burden, and limited neoantigen expression. Radiation therapy (RT) can change the tumor microenvironment (TME) of an immunologically "cold" tumor. This study investigated the effect of combining RT with the vaccine CpG+OX40 in immunologically "cold" tumor models.

Methods: Mice bearing flank tumors (A20 lymphoma, B78 melanoma or 4T1 breast cancer) were treated with combinations of local RT, CpG, and/or OX40, and response to treatment was monitored. Flow cytometry and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) experiments were conducted to study differences in the TME, secondary lymphoid organs, and immune activation after treatment.

Results: An vaccine regimen of CpG+OX40, which was effective in the A20 model, did not significantly improve tumor response or survival in the "cold" B78 and 4T1 models, as tested here. In both models, treatment with RT prior to CpG+OX40 enabled a local response to this vaccine, significantly improving the anti-tumor response and survival compared to RT alone or CpG+OX40 alone. RT increased OX40 expression on tumor infiltrating CD4+ non-regulatory T cells. RT+CpG+OX40 increased the ratio of tumor-infiltrating effector T cells to T regulatory cells and significantly increased CD4+ and CD8+ T cell activation in the tumor draining lymph node (TDLN) and spleen.

Conclusion: RT significantly improves the local anti-tumor effect of the vaccine CpG+OX40 in immunologically "cold", solid, murine tumor models where RT or CpG+OX40 alone fail to stimulate tumor regression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2021.763888DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8634717PMC
November 2021

Combination of radiation therapy, bempegaldesleukin, and checkpoint blockade eradicates advanced solid tumors and metastases in mice.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 06;9(6)

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Background: Current clinical trials are using radiation therapy (RT) to enhance an antitumor response elicited by high-dose interleukin (IL)-2 therapy or immune checkpoint blockade (ICB). Bempegaldesleukin (BEMPEG) is an investigational CD122-preferential IL-2 pathway agonist with prolonged in vivo half-life and preferential intratumoral expansion of T effector cells over T regulatory cells. BEMPEG has shown encouraging safety and efficacy in clinical trials when used in combination with PD-1 checkpoint blockade. In this study, we investigated the antitumor effect of local RT combined with BEMPEG in multiple immunologically 'cold' tumor models. Additionally, we asked if ICB could further enhance the local and distant antitumor effect of RT+BEMPEG in the setting of advanced solid tumors or metastatic disease.

Methods: Mice bearing flank tumors (B78 melanoma, 4T1 breast cancer, or MOC2 head and neck squamous cell carcinoma) were treated with combinations of RT and immunotherapy (including BEMPEG, high-dose IL-2, anti(α)-CTLA-4, and α-PD-L1). Mice bearing B78 flank tumors were injected intravenously with B16 melanoma cells to mimic metastatic disease and were subsequently treated with RT and/or immunotherapy. Tumor growth and survival were monitored. Peripheral T cells and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes were assessed via flow cytometry.

Results: A cooperative antitumor effect was observed in all models when RT was combined with BEMPEG, and RT increased IL-2 receptor expression on peripheral T cells. This cooperative interaction was associated with increased IL-2 receptor expression on peripheral T cells following RT. In the B78 melanoma model, RT+BEMPEG resulted in complete tumor regression in the majority of mice with a single ~400 mm tumor. This antitumor response was T-cell dependent and supported by long-lasting immune memory. Adding ICB to RT+BEMPEG strengthened the antitumor response and cured the majority of mice with a single ~1000 mm B78 tumor. In models with disseminated metastasis (B78 primary with B16 metastasis, 4T1, and MOC2), the triple combination of RT, BEMPEG, and ICB significantly improved primary tumor response and survival.

Conclusion: The combination of local RT, BEMPEG, and ICB cured mice with advanced, immunologically cold tumors and distant metastasis in a T cell-dependent manner, suggesting this triple combination warrants clinical testing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2021-002715DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8237721PMC
June 2021

Depth of tumor implantation affects response to in situ vaccination in a syngeneic murine melanoma model.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 04;9(4)

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

An important component of research using animal models is ensuring rigor and reproducibility. This study was prompted after two experimenters performing virtually identical studies obtained different results when syngeneic B78 murine melanoma cells were implanted into the skin overlying the flank and treated with an in situ vaccine (ISV) immunotherapy. Although both experimenters thought they were using identical technique, we determined that one was implanting the tumors intradermally (ID) and the other was implanting them subcutaneously (SC). Though the baseline in vivo immunogenicity of tumors can depend on depth of their implantation, the response to immunotherapy as a function of tumor depth, particularly in immunologically 'cold' tumors, has not been well studied. The goal of this study was to evaluate the difference in growth kinetics and response to immunotherapy between identically sized melanoma tumors following ID versus SC implantation. We injected C57BL/6 mice with syngeneic B78 melanoma cells either ID or SC in the flank. When tumors reached 190-230 mm, they were grouped into a 'wave' and treated with our previously published ISV regimen (12 Gy local external beam radiation and intratumoral hu14.18-IL2 immunocytokine). Physical examination demonstrated that ID-implanted tumors were mobile on palpation, while SC-implanted tumors became fixed to the underlying fascia. Histologic examination identified a critical fascial layer, the panniculus carnosus, which separated ID and SC tumors. SC tumors reached the target tumor volume significantly faster compared with ID tumors. Most ID tumors exhibited either partial or complete response to this immunotherapy, whereas most SC tumors did not. Further, the 'mobile' or 'fixed' phenotype of tumors predicted response to therapy, regardless of intended implantation depth. These findings were then extended to additional immunotherapy regimens in four separate tumor models. These data indicate that the physical 'fixed' versus 'mobile' characterization of the tumors may be one simple method of ensuring homogeneity among implanted tumors prior to initiation of treatment. Overall, this short report demonstrates that small differences in depth of tumor implantation can translate to differences in response to immunotherapy, and proposes a simple physical examination technique to ensure consistent tumor depth when conducting implantable tumor immunotherapy experiments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-002107DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8055108PMC
April 2021

Tumor-Specific Antibody, Cetuximab, Enhances the Vaccine Effect of Radiation in Immunologically Cold Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Front Immunol 2020 12;11:591139. Epub 2020 Nov 12.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, United States.

In head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) tumors that over-expresses huEGFR, the anti-EGFR antibody, cetuximab, antagonizes tumor cell viability and sensitizes to radiation therapy. However, the immunologic interactions between cetuximab and radiation therapy are not well understood. We transduced two syngeneic murine HNSCC tumor cell lines to express human EGFR (MOC1- and MOC2-huEGFR) in order to facilitate evaluation of the immunologic interactions between radiation and cetuximab. Cetuximab was capable of inducing antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) in MOC1- and MOC2-huEGFR cells but showed no effect on the viability or radiosensitivity of these tumor cells, which also express muEGFR that is not targeted by cetuximab. Radiation enhanced the susceptibility of MOC1- and MOC2-huEGFR to ADCC, eliciting a type I interferon response and increasing expression of NKG2D ligands on these tumor cells. Co-culture of splenocytes with cetuximab and MOC2-huEGFR cells resulted in increased expression of IFNγ in not only NK cells but also in CD8+ T cells, and this was dependent upon splenocyte expression of FcγR. In MOC2-huEGFR tumors, combining radiation and cetuximab induced tumor growth delay that required NK cells, EGFR expression, and FcγR on host immune cells. Combination of radiation and cetuximab increased tumor infiltration with NK and CD8+ T cells but not regulatory T cells. Expression of PD-L1 was increased in MOC2-huEGFR tumors following treatment with radiation and cetuximab. Delivering anti-PD-L1 antibody with radiation and cetuximab improved survival and resulted in durable tumor regression in some mice. Notably, these cured mice showed evidence of an adaptive memory response that was not specifically directed against huEGFR. These findings suggest an opportunity to improve the treatment of HNSCC by combining radiation and cetuximab to engage an innate anti-tumor immune response that may prime an effective adaptive immune response when combined with immune checkpoint blockade. It is possible that this approach could be extended to any immunologically cold tumor that does not respond to immune checkpoint blockade alone and for which a tumor-specific antibody exists or could be developed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.591139DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7689006PMC
June 2021

Intratumoral injection reduces toxicity and antibody-mediated neutralization of immunocytokine in a mouse melanoma model.

J Immunother Cancer 2020 10;8(2)

Department of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Background: Some patients with cancer treated with anticancer monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) develop antidrug antibodies (ADAs) that recognize and bind the therapeutic antibody. This response may neutralize the therapeutic mAb, interfere with mAb effector function or cause toxicities. We investigated the potential influence of ADA to modify the tumor-binding capability of a tumor-reactive 'immunocytokine' (IC), namely, a fusion protein (hu14.18-IL2) consisting of a humanized, tumor-reactive, anti-GD2 mAb genetically linked to interleukin 2. We characterize the role of treatment delivery of IC (intravenous vs intratumoral) on the impact of ADA on therapeutic outcome following IC treatments in an established antimelanoma (MEL) regimen involving radiotherapy (RT) +IC.

Methods: C57BL/6 mice were injected with human IgG or the hu14.18-IL2 IC to develop a mouse anti-human antibody (MAHA) response (MAHA). In vitro assays were performed to assess ADA binding to IC using sera from MAHA and MAHA mice. In vivo experiments assessed the levels of IC bound to tumor in MAHA and MAHA mice, and the influence of IC route of delivery on its ability to bind to B78 (GD2+) MEL tumors.

Results: MAHA is inducible in C57BL/6 mice. In vitro assays show that MAHA is capable of inhibiting the binding of IC to GD2 antigen on B78 cells, resulting in impaired ADCC mediated by IC. When B78-bearing mice are injected intravenously with IC, less IC binds to B78-MEL tumors in MAHA mice than in MAHA mice. In contrast, when IC is injected intratumorally in tumor-bearing mice, the presence of MAHA does not detectibly impact IC binding to the tumor. Combination therapy with RT+IT-IC showed improved tumor regression compared with RT alone in MAHA mice. If given intratumorally, IC could be safely readministered in tumor-bearing MAHA mice, while intravenous injections of IC in MAHA mice caused severe toxicity. Histamine levels were elevated in MAHA mice compared with MAHA mice after reintroduction of IC.

Conclusions: Intratumoral injection may be a means of overcoming ADA neutralization of therapeutic activity of tumor-reactive mAbs or ICs and may reduce systemic toxicity, which could have significant translational relevance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-001262DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7594540PMC
October 2020

Vaccine Plus Checkpoint Blockade Induces Memory Humoral Response.

Front Immunol 2020 24;11:1610. Epub 2020 Jul 24.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, United States.

In a syngeneic murine melanoma (MEL) model, we recently reported an vaccination response to combined radiation (RT) and intra-tumoral (IT) injection of anti-GD2 hu14. 18-IL2 immunocytokine (IC). This combined treatment resulted in 71% complete and durable regression of 5-week tumors, a tumor-specific memory T cell response, and augmented response to systemic anti-CTLA-4 antibody checkpoint blockade. While the ability of radiation to diversify anti-tumor T cell response has been reported, we hypothesize that mice rendered disease-free (DF) by a RT-based ISV might also exhibit a heightened B cell response. C57BL/6 mice were engrafted with 2 × 10 GD2+ B78 MEL and treated at a target tumor size of ~200 mm with 12 Gy RT, IT-IC on day (D)6-D10, and anti-CTLA-4 on D3, 6, and 9. Serum was collected via facial vein before tumor injection, before treatment, during treatment, after becoming DF, and following rejection of subcutaneous 2 × 10 B78 MEL re-challenge on D90. Flow cytometry demonstrated the presence of tumor-specific IgG in sera from mice rendered DF and rejecting re-challenge with B78 MEL at D90 after starting treatment. Consistent with an adaptive endogenous anti-tumor humoral memory response, these anti-tumor antibodies bound to B78 cells and parental B16 cells (GD2-), but not to the unrelated syngeneic Panc02 or Panc02 GD2+ cell lines. We evaluated the kinetics of this response and observed that tumor-specific IgG was consistently detected by D22 after initiation of treatment, corresponding to a time of rapid tumor regression. The amount of tumor-specific antibody binding to tumor cells (as measured by flow MFI) did not correlate with host animal prognosis. Incubation of B16 MEL cells in DF serum, vs. naïve serum, prior to IV injection, did not delay engraftment of B16 metastases and showed similar overall survival rates. B cell depletion using anti-CD20 or anti-CD19 and anti-B220 did not impact the efficacy of ISV treatment. Thus, treatment with RT + IC + anti-CTLA-4 results in adaptive anti-tumor humoral memory response. This endogenous tumor-specific antibody response does not appear to have therapeutic efficacy but may serve as a biomarker for an anti-tumor T cell response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.01610DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7396490PMC
April 2021

Pre-existing antitherapeutic antibodies against the Fc region of the hu14.18K322A mAb are associated with outcome in patients with relapsed neuroblastoma.

J Immunother Cancer 2020 03;8(1)

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Purpose: Patients with cancer receiving tumor-reactive humanized monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy can develop a human antihuman antibody (HAHA) response against the therapeutic mAb. We evaluated for HAHA in patients with neuroblastoma treated in a phase I study of humanized anti-GD2 mAb (immunoglobulin (Ig)G1 isotype), hu14.18K322A (NCT00743496). The pretreatment sera (collected prior to mAb treatment) from 9 of 38 patients contained antitherapeutic antibodies, even though they had no prior mAb exposure. We sought to characterize these pre-existing antitherapeutic antibodies (PATA).

Experimental Design: The PATA+ pretreatment samples were characterized via ELISA; clinical associations with PATA status were evaluated.

Results: Pretreatment sera from eight of nine PATA+ patients also bound rituximab and demonstrated preferential ELISA reactivity against the Fc portions of hu14.18K322A and rituximab as compared with the Fab portions of these mAbs. These PATA+ sera also recognized dinutuximab (human IgG1 isotype) and mouse IgG2a isotype mAbs, but not a mouse IgG1 isotype or the fully human panitumumab (IgG2 isotype) mAb. Of the 38 treated patients, only 4 patients (all in the PATA+ cohort) demonstrated no disease progression for 2.5 years without receiving further therapy (p=0.002).

Conclusions: This study demonstrates an association between clinical outcome and the presence of PATA against determinant(s) on the Fc component of the therapeutic mAb, suggesting that the PATA may be playing a role in augmenting mAb-based antitumor effects. Further analyses for the presence of PATA in a larger cohort of patients with relapsed neuroblastoma, analyses of their clinical correlates, identification of their immunological targets, and potential antitumor mechanisms are warranted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2020-000590DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7069273PMC
March 2020

Outcome-Related Signatures Identified by Whole Transcriptome Sequencing of Resectable Stage III/IV Melanoma Evaluated after Starting Hu14.18-IL2.

Clin Cancer Res 2020 07 9;26(13):3296-3306. Epub 2020 Mar 9.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

Purpose: We analyzed whole transcriptome sequencing in tumors from 23 patients with stage III or IV melanoma from a pilot trial of the anti-GD2 immunocytokine, hu14.18-IL2, to identify predictive immune and/or tumor biomarkers in patients with melanoma at high risk for recurrence.

Experimental Design: Patients were randomly assigned to receive the first of three monthly courses of hu14.18-IL2 immunotherapy either before (Group A) or after (Group B) complete surgical resection of all known diseases. Tumors were evaluated by histology and whole transcriptome sequencing.

Results: Tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) levels directly associated with relapse-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) in resected tumors from Group A, where early responses to the immunotherapy agent could be assessed. TIL levels directly associated with a previously reported immune signature, which associated with RFS and OS, particularly in Group A tumors. In Group A tumors, there were decreased cell-cycling gene RNA transcripts, but increased RNA transcripts for repair and growth genes. We found that outcome (RFS and OS) was directly associated with several immune signatures and immune-related RNA transcripts and inversely associated with several tumor growth-associated transcripts, particularly in Group A tumors. Most of these associations were not seen in Group B tumors.

Conclusions: We interpret these data to signify that both immunologic and tumoral cell processes, as measured by RNA-sequencing analyses detected shortly after initiation of hu14.18-IL2 therapy, are associated with long-term survival and could potentially be used as prognostic biomarkers in tumor resection specimens obtained after initiating neoadjuvant immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-3294DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7334053PMC
July 2020

Combined innate and adaptive immunotherapy overcomes resistance of immunologically cold syngeneic murine neuroblastoma to checkpoint inhibition.

J Immunother Cancer 2019 12 6;7(1):344. Epub 2019 Dec 6.

Department of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin, 4159 WIMR Bldg., UWCCC, 1111 Highland Ave, Madison, WI, 53711, USA.

Background: Unlike some adult cancers, most pediatric cancers are considered immunologically cold and generally less responsive to immunotherapy. While immunotherapy has already been incorporated into standard of care treatment for pediatric patients with high-risk neuroblastoma, overall survival remains poor. In a mouse melanoma model, we found that radiation and tumor-specific immunocytokine generate an in situ vaccination response in syngeneic mice bearing large tumors. Here, we tested whether a novel immunotherapeutic approach utilizing radiation and immunocytokine together with innate immune stimulation could generate a potent antitumor response with immunologic memory against syngeneic murine neuroblastoma.

Methods: Mice bearing disialoganglioside (GD2)-expressing neuroblastoma tumors (either NXS2 or 9464D-GD2) were treated with radiation and immunotherapy (including anti-GD2 immunocytokine with or without anti-CTLA-4, CpG and anti-CD40 monoclonal antibody). Tumor growth, animal survival and immune cell infiltrate were analyzed in the tumor microenvironment in response to various treatment regimens.

Results: NXS2 had a moderate tumor mutation burden (TMB) while N-MYC driven 9464D-GD2 had a low TMB, therefore the latter served as a better model for high-risk neuroblastoma (an immunologically cold tumor). Radiation and immunocytokine induced a potent in situ vaccination response against NXS2 tumors, but not in the 9464D-GD2 tumor model. Addition of checkpoint blockade with anti-CTLA-4 was not effective alone against 9464D-GD2 tumors; inclusion of CpG and anti-CD40 achieved a potent antitumor response with decreased T regulatory cells within the tumors and induction of immunologic memory.

Conclusions: These data suggest that a combined innate and adaptive immunotherapeutic approach can be effective against immunologically cold syngeneic murine neuroblastoma. Further testing is needed to determine how these concepts might translate into development of more effective immunotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of clinically high-risk neuroblastoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40425-019-0823-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6898936PMC
December 2019

Follicular lymphoma patients with KIR2DL2 and KIR3DL1 and their ligands (HLA-C1 and HLA-Bw4) show improved outcome when receiving rituximab.

J Immunother Cancer 2019 03 12;7(1):70. Epub 2019 Mar 12.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.

Background: The ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group evaluated rituximab treatment schedules for patients with newly-diagnosed low-tumor-burden follicular-lymphoma (FL). All patients received 4-weekly rituximab treatments as induction therapy. Clinically-responding patients were randomized to receive rituximab every 13 weeks ("maintenance") vs. no additional rituximab until progression ("non-maintenance"). Based on "time-to-rituximab-failure (TTRF)", the study-committee reported there was no overall-benefit for maintenance rituximab in this setting. Tumor-reactive mAbs, like rituximab, trigger natural killer (NK) cells. NK-cell responses are regulated, in part, by interactions between killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) on NK cells and their interactions with KIR-ligands. In a separate study of children with neuroblastoma treated with a different mAb, we found certain KIR/KIR-ligand genotypes associated with improved outcome. Here, we assessed whether a subset of FL patients show improved outcome from the maintenance rituximab based on these same KIR/KIR-ligand genotypes.

Methods: Genotypes for KIR/KIR-ligand were determined and assessed for associations with outcome [duration of response, TTRF and % tumor shrinkage] as a post-hoc analysis of this phase III trial. Our primary objective was to assess specific KIR/KIR-ligand genotype associations, followed by separate prespecified KIR/KIR-ligand genotype associations in follow-up analyses. Statistical analyses for association of genotype with clinical outcome included: Log-rank tests and Cox proportional hazards regression models to assess duration of response and TTRF; analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used for assessment of % tumor shrinkage.

Results: We found that patients inheriting KIR2DL2 and its ligand (HLA-C1) along with KIR3DL1 and its ligand (HLA-Bw4) had improved outcome over patients without this genotype. In addition, patients with KIR2DL2 and HLA-C1 along with KIR3DL1 and HLA-Bw4 also showed improved duration of response and tumor shrinkage if they received maintenance, while patients without this genotype showed no such improvement when receiving maintenance.

Conclusions: The data presented here indicate that a subset of FL patients, identified by certain KIRs/KIR-ligands, have improved outcome and may benefit from additional rituximab treatment. Taken together, this suggests that the efficacy of tumor-reactive mAb treatment for some patients is influenced by KIRs on NK cells. However, prior to considering these genotypes in a clinically-actionable manner, these findings need independent validation in other studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40425-019-0538-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6419437PMC
March 2019

Tumor-Specific Inhibition of Vaccination by Distant Untreated Tumor Sites.

Cancer Immunol Res 2018 07 10;6(7):825-834. Epub 2018 May 10.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin.

vaccination is an emerging cancer treatment strategy that uses local therapies to stimulate a systemic antitumor immune response. We previously reported an vaccination effect when combining radiation (RT) with intratumor (IT) injection of tumor-specific immunocytokine (IC), a fusion of tumor-specific antibody and IL2 cytokine. In mice bearing two tumors, we initially hypothesized that delivering RT plus IT-IC to the "primary" tumor would induce a systemic antitumor response causing regression of the "secondary" tumor. To test this, mice bearing one or two syngeneic murine tumors of B78 melanoma and/or Panc02 pancreatic cancer were treated with combined external beam RT and IT-IC to the designated "primary" tumor only. Primary and secondary tumor response as well as animal survival were monitored. Immunohistochemistry and quantitative real-time PCR were used to quantify tumor infiltration with regulatory T cells (Treg). Transgenic "DEREG" mice or IgG2a anti-CTLA-4 were used to transiently deplete tumor Tregs. Contrary to our initial hypothesis, we observed that the presence of an untreated secondary tumor antagonized the therapeutic effect of RT + IT-IC delivered to the primary tumor. We observed reciprocal tumor specificity for this effect, which was circumvented if all tumors received RT or by transient depletion of Tregs. Primary tumor treatment with RT + IT-IC together with systemic administration of Treg-depleting anti-CTLA-4 resulted in a renewed vaccination effect. Our findings show that untreated tumors can exert a tumor-specific, Treg-dependent, suppressive effect on the efficacy of vaccination and demonstrate clinically viable approaches to overcome this effect. Untreated tumor sites antagonize the systemic and local antitumor immune response to an vaccination regimen. This effect is radiation sensitive and may be mediated by tumor-specific regulatory T cells harbored in the untreated tumor sites. .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-17-0353DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6030484PMC
July 2018

Neuroblastoma Patients' KIR and KIR-Ligand Genotypes Influence Clinical Outcome for Dinutuximab-based Immunotherapy: A Report from the Children's Oncology Group.

Clin Cancer Res 2018 01 2;24(1):189-196. Epub 2017 Oct 2.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.

In 2010, a Children's Oncology Group (COG) phase III randomized trial for patients with high-risk neuroblastoma (ANBL0032) demonstrated improved event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) following treatment with an immunotherapy regimen of dinutuximab, GM-CSF, IL2, and isotretinoin compared with treatment with isotretinoin alone. Dinutuximab, a chimeric anti-GD2 monoclonal antibody, acts in part via natural killer (NK) cells. Killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) on NK cells and their interactions with KIR-ligands can influence NK cell function. We investigated whether KIR/KIR-ligand genotypes were associated with EFS or OS in this trial. We genotyped patients from COG study ANBL0032 and evaluated the effect of KIR/KIR-ligand genotypes on clinical outcomes. Cox regression models and log-rank tests were used to evaluate associations of EFS and OS with KIR/KIR-ligand genotypes. In this trial, patients with the "all KIR-ligands present" genotype as well as patients with inhibitory KIR2DL2 with its ligand (HLA-C1) together with inhibitory KIR3DL1 with its ligand (HLA-Bw4) were associated with improved outcome if they received immunotherapy. In contrast, for patients with the complementary KIR/KIR-ligand genotypes, clinical outcome was not significantly different for patients who received immunotherapy versus those receiving isotretinoin alone. These data show that administration of immunotherapy is associated with improved outcome for neuroblastoma patients with certain KIR/KIR-ligand genotypes, although this was not seen for patients with other KIR/KIR-ligand genotypes. Further investigation of KIR/KIR-ligand genotypes may clarify their role in cancer immunotherapy and may enable KIR/KIR-ligand genotyping to be used prospectively for identifying patients likely to benefit from certain cancer immunotherapy regimens. .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-17-1767DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5754221PMC
January 2018

Transcriptional-mediated effects of radiation on the expression of immune susceptibility markers in melanoma.

Radiother Oncol 2017 09 8;124(3):418-426. Epub 2017 Sep 8.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, United States. Electronic address:

Background And Purpose: We recently reported a time-sensitive, cooperative, anti-tumor effect elicited by radiation (RT) and intra-tumoral-immunocytokine injection in vivo. We hypothesized that RT triggers transcriptional-mediated changes in tumor expression of immune susceptibility markers at delayed time points, which may explain these previously observed time-dependent effects.

Materials And Methods: We examined the time course of changes in expression of immune susceptibility markers following in vitro or in vivo RT in B78 murine melanoma and A375 human melanoma using flow cytometry, immunoblotting, and qPCR.

Results: Flow cytometry and immunoblot revealed time-dependent increases in expression of death receptors and T cell co-stimulatory/co-inhibitory ligands following RT in murine and human melanoma. Using high-throughput qPCR, we observed comparable time courses of RT-induced transcriptional upregulation for multiple immune susceptibility markers. We confirmed analogous changes in B78 tumors irradiated in vivo. We observed upregulated expression of DNA damage response markers days prior to changes in immune markers, whereas phosphorylation of the STAT1 transcription factor occurred concurrently with changes following RT.

Conclusion: This study highlights time-dependent, transcription-mediated changes in tumor immune susceptibility marker expression following RT. These findings may help in the design of strategies to optimize sequencing of RT and immunotherapy in translational and clinical studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.radonc.2017.08.016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5626442PMC
September 2017

HLA-Bw4-I-80 Isoform Differentially Influences Clinical Outcome As Compared to HLA-Bw4-T-80 and HLA-A-Bw4 Isoforms in Rituximab or Dinutuximab-Based Cancer Immunotherapy.

Front Immunol 2017 12;8:675. Epub 2017 Jun 12.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, United States.

Killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) are a family of glycoproteins expressed primarily on natural killer cells that can regulate their function. Inhibitory KIRs recognize MHC class I molecules (KIR-ligands) as ligands. We have reported associations of KIRs and KIR-ligands for patients in two monoclonal antibody (mAb)-based trials: (1) A Children's Oncology Group (COG) trial for children with high-risk neuroblastoma randomized to immunotherapy treatment with dinutuximab (anti-GD2 mAb) + GM-CSF + IL-2 + isotretinion or to treatment with isotretinoin alone and (2) An Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) trial for adults with low-tumor burden follicular lymphoma responding to an induction course of rituximab (anti-CD20 mAb) and randomized to treatment with maintenance rituximab or no-maintenance rituximab. In each trial, certain KIR/KIR-ligand genotypes were associated with clinical benefit for patients randomized to immunotherapy treatment (immunotherapy in COG; maintenance rituximab in ECOG) as compared to patients that did not receive the immunotherapy [isotretinoin alone (COG); no-maintenance (ECOG)]. Namely, patients with both KIR3DL1 and its HLA-Bw4 ligand (KIR3DL1+/HLA-Bw4+ genotype) had improved clinical outcomes if randomized to immunotherapy regimens, as compared to patients with the KIR3DL1+/HLA-Bw4+ genotype randomized to the non-immunotherapy regimen. Conversely, patients that did not have the KIR3DL1+/HLA-Bw4+ genotype showed no evidence of a difference in outcome if receiving the immunotherapy vs. no-immunotherapy. For each trial, HLA-Bw4 status was determined by assessing the genotypes of three separate isoforms of HLA-Bw4: (1) HLA-B-Bw4 with threonine at amino acid 80 (B-Bw4-T80); (2) HLA-B-Bw4 with isoleucine at amino acid 80 (HLA-B-Bw4-I80); and (3) HLA-A with a Bw4 epitope (HLA-A-Bw4). Here, we report on associations with clinical outcome for patients with KIR3DL1 and these separate isoforms of HLA-Bw4. Patients randomized to immunotherapy with KIR3DL1+/A-Bw4+ or with KIR3DL1+/B-Bw4-T80+ had better outcome vs. those randomized to no-immunotherapy, whereas for those with KIR3DL1+/B-Bw4-I80+ there was no evidence of a difference based on immunotherapy vs. no-immunotherapy. Additionally, we observed differences within treatment types (either within immunotherapy or no-immunotherapy) that were associated with the genotype status for the different KIR3DL1/HLA-Bw4-isoforms. These studies suggest that specific HLA-Bw4 isoforms may differentially influence response to these mAb-based immunotherapy, further confirming the involvement of KIR-bearing cells in tumor-reactive mAb-based cancer immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00675DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5466980PMC
June 2017

Donor selection for ex vivo-expanded natural killer cells as adoptive cancer immunotherapy.

Future Oncol 2017 05 11;13(12):1043-1047. Epub 2017 May 11.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.2217/fon-2017-0039DOI Listing
May 2017

FCGR Polymorphisms Influence Response to IL2 in Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma.

Clin Cancer Res 2017 May 14;23(9):2159-2168. Epub 2016 Oct 14.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.

Fc-gamma receptors (FCGRs) are expressed on immune cells, bind to antibodies, and trigger antibody-induced cell-mediated antitumor responses when tumor-reactive antibodies are present. The affinity of the FCGR/antibody interaction is variable and dependent upon polymorphisms. Prior studies of patients with cancer treated with immunotherapy indicate that polymorphisms can influence antitumor response for certain immunotherapies that act via therapeutically administered mAbs or via endogenous tumor-reactive antibodies induced from tumor antigen vaccines. The previously published "SELECT" trial of high-dose aldesleukin (HD-IL2) for metastatic renal cell carcinoma resulted in an objective response rate of 25%. We evaluated the patients in this SELECT trial to determine whether higher-affinity polymorphisms are associated with outcome. SNPs in , and were analyzed, individually and in combination, for associations between genotype and clinical outcome. When higher-affinity genotypes for , and were considered together, they were associated with significantly increased tumor shrinkage and prolonged survival in response to HD-IL2. Although associations of higher-affinity genotype with clinical outcome have been demonstrated with mAb therapy and with idiotype vaccines, to our knowledge, this is the first study to show associations of genotypes with outcome following HD-IL2 treatment. We hypothesize that endogenous antitumor antibodies may engage immune cells through their FCGRs, and HD-IL2 may enhance antibody-induced tumor destruction, or antibody-enhanced tumor antigen presentation, via augmented activation of innate or adaptive immune responses; this FCGR-mediated immune activity would be augmented through immunologically favorable FCGRs. .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-16-1874DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5392177PMC
May 2017

Killer immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) and KIR-ligand genotype do not correlate with clinical outcome of renal cell carcinoma patients receiving high-dose IL2.

Cancer Immunol Immunother 2016 12 30;65(12):1523-1532. Epub 2016 Sep 30.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, 4159 WIMR Bldg. UW-Madison Campus, 1111 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI, 53705, USA.

NK cells play a role in many cancer immunotherapies. NK cell activity is tightly regulated by killer immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) and KIR-ligand interactions. Inhibitory KIR-ligands have been identified as HLA molecules, while activating KIR-ligands are largely unknown. Individuals that have not inherited the corresponding KIR-ligand for at least one inhibitory KIR gene are termed the "KIR-ligand missing" genotype, and they are thought to have a subset of NK cells that express inhibitory KIRs for which the corresponding KIR-ligand is missing on autologous tissue, and thus will not be inhibited through KIR-ligand recognition. In some settings where an anticancer immunotherapeutic effect is likely mediated by NK cells, individuals with a KIR-ligand missing genotype have shown improved clinical outcome compared to individuals with an "all KIR-ligands present" genotype. In addition, patients receiving hematopoietic stem cell transplants for leukemia may do better if their donor has more activating KIR genes (i.e., KIR haplotype-B). In a recent multi-institution clinical trial of patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma receiving high-dose IL2 (HD-IL2), 25 % of patients showed a complete or partial tumor response to this therapy. We genotyped KIR and KIR-ligand genes for these patients (n = 107) and tested whether KIR/KIR-ligand genotypes correlated with patient clinical outcomes. In these analyses, we did not find any significant association of KIR/KIR-ligand genotype (either KIR-ligand missing or the presence of KIR haplotype-B) with patient outcome in response to the HD-IL2 therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00262-016-1904-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5123674PMC
December 2016

Human NK cells maintain licensing status and are subject to killer immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) and KIR-ligand inhibition following ex vivo expansion.

Cancer Immunol Immunother 2016 09 8;65(9):1047-59. Epub 2016 Jul 8.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, 4159 WIMR Bldg. UW-Madison Campus, 1111 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI, 53705, USA.

Infusion of allogeneic NK cells is a potential immunotherapy for both hematopoietic malignancies and solid tumors. Interactions between killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) on human NK cells and KIR-ligands on tumor cells influence the magnitude of NK function. To obtain sufficient numbers of activated NK cells for infusion, one potent method uses cells from the K562 human erythroleukemia line that have been transfected to express activating 41BB ligand (41BBL) and membrane-bound interleukin 15 (mbIL15). The functional importance of KIRs on ex vivo expanded NK cells has not been studied in detail. We found that after a 12-day co-culture with K562-mbIL15-41BBL cells, expanded NK cells maintained inhibition specificity and prior in vivo licensing status determined by KIR/KIR-ligand interactions. Addition of an anti-CD20 antibody (rituximab) induced NK-mediated antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and augmented killing of CD20+ target cells. However, partial inhibition induced by KIR/KIR-ligand interactions persisted. Finally, we found that extended co-cultures of NK cells with stimulatory cells transduced to express various KIR-ligands modified both the inhibitory and activating KIR repertoires of the expanded NK cell product. These studies demonstrate that the licensing interactions known to occur during NK ontogeny also influence NK cell function following NK expansion ex vivo with HLA-null stimulatory cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00262-016-1864-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5477646PMC
September 2016

Genotyping Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms and Copy Number Variability of the FCGRs Expressed on NK Cells.

Methods Mol Biol 2016 ;1441:43-56

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, 1111 Highland Avenue, 4136 WIMR Bldg., Madison, WI, 53705, USA.

Natural killer (NK) cells are one of the main effector immune cells involved in antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). Upon recognition of cell-bound IgG antibodies, which occurs through Fc gamma receptors (FCGRs) expressed on the cell surface of NK cells, NK cells become activated and lyse target tumor or infected cells. The FCGRs, FCGR3A and FCGR2C, expressed on the surface of NK cells have single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that result in differential activity of NK cells. In addition to SNP genetic variation within each of these genes, the FCGRs are subject to copy number variation (CNV), which leads to variable protein expression levels on the cell surface. Studies have found that FCGR genotype for FCGR3A and FCGR2C is associated with variation in the response to immunotherapy.Due to high sequence homology within FCGR3 and FCGR2 families, there are difficulties associated with genotyping these specific receptors related to cross-amplification of non-targeted FCGRs. To improve specificity for both FCGR3A and FCGR2C, Rnase-H (RH) primers were designed to amplify specifically FCGR3A (while not co-amplifying FCGR3B) and FCGR2C (while not co-amplifying FCGR2B). In addition, fluorescently labeled locked nucleic acid (LNA) probes provide additional precision for determination of the SNPs within both FCGR3A and FCGR2C. For CNV determination, separate fluorescently labeled probes for FCGR3A, and for FCGR2C, can be used with the same RH primers for each gene. These probes can be combined in the same well with control primers/probe for a known diploid gene and used to calculate the copy number of both FCGR3A and FCGR2C. Here we provide new detailed methodology that allows for the specific amplification of these FCGRs in a single PCR reaction, allowing for genotyping of both the SNPs and CNVs using real-time PCR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-3684-7_4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5476420PMC
December 2017

NK Cell-Mediated Antibody-Dependent Cellular Cytotoxicity in Cancer Immunotherapy.

Front Immunol 2015 27;6:368. Epub 2015 Jul 27.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison, WI , USA ; Department of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison, WI , USA.

Natural killer (NK) cells play a major role in cancer immunotherapies that involve tumor-antigen targeting by monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). NK cells express a variety of activating and inhibitory receptors that serve to regulate the function and activity of the cells. In the context of targeting cells, NK cells can be "specifically activated" through certain Fc receptors that are expressed on their cell surface. NK cells can express FcγRIIIA and/or FcγRIIC, which can bind to the Fc portion of immunoglobulins, transmitting activating signals within NK cells. Once activated through Fc receptors by antibodies bound to target cells, NK cells are able to lyse target cells without priming, and secrete cytokines like interferon gamma to recruit adaptive immune cells. This antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) of tumor cells is utilized in the treatment of various cancers overexpressing unique antigens, such as neuroblastoma, breast cancer, B cell lymphoma, and others. NK cells also express a family of receptors called killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs), which regulate the function and response of NK cells toward target cells through their interaction with their cognate ligands that are expressed on tumor cells. Genetic polymorphisms in KIR and KIR-ligands, as well as FcγRs may influence NK cell responsiveness in conjunction with mAb immunotherapies. This review focuses on current therapeutic mAbs, different strategies to augment the anti-tumor efficacy of ADCC, and genotypic factors that may influence patient responses to antibody-dependent immunotherapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2015.00368DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4515552PMC
August 2015

Increasing the clinical efficacy of NK and antibody-mediated cancer immunotherapy: potential predictors of successful clinical outcome based on observations in high-risk neuroblastoma.

Front Pharmacol 2012 16;3:91. Epub 2012 May 16.

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin Madison Madison, WI, USA.

Disease recurrence is frequent in high-risk neuroblastoma (NBL) patients even after multi-modality aggressive treatment [a combination of chemotherapy, surgical resection, local radiation therapy, autologous stem cell transplantation, and cis-retinoic acid (CRA)]. Recent clinical studies have explored the use of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that bind to disialoganglioside (GD(2)), highly expressed in NBL, as a means to enable immune effector cells to destroy NBL cells via antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). Preclinical data indicate that ADCC can be more effective when appropriate effector cells are activated by cytokines. Clinical studies have pursued this by administering anti-GD(2) mAb in combination with ADCC-enhancing cytokines (IL2 and GM-CSF), a regimen that has demonstrated improved cancer-free survival. More recently, early clinical studies have used a fusion protein that consists of the anti-GD(2) mAb directly linked to IL2, and anti-tumor responses were seen in the Phase II setting. Analyses of genes that code for receptors that influence ADCC activity and natural killer (NK) cell function [Fc receptor (FcR), killer immunoglublin-like receptor (KIR), and KIR-ligand (KIR-L)] suggest patients with anti-tumor activity are more likely to have certain genotype profiles. Further analyses will need to be conducted to determine whether these genotypes can be used as predictive markers for favorable therapeutic outcome. In this review, we discuss factors that affect response to mAb-based tumor therapies such as hu14.18-IL2. Many of our observations have been made in the context of NBL; however, we will also include some observations made with mAbs targeting other tumor types that are consistent with results in NBL. Therefore, we hypothesize that the NBL observations discussed here may also be relevant to mAb therapy for other cancers, in which ADCC is known to play a role.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2012.00091DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353262PMC
October 2012

Regulation of Ikaros function by casein kinase 2 and protein phosphatase 1.

World J Biol Chem 2011 Jun;2(6):126-31

Chunhua Song, Zhanjun Li, Sinisa Dovat, Department of Pediatrics, Pennsylvania State University, College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033-0850, United States.

The Ikaros gene encodes a zinc finger, DNA-binding protein that regulates gene transcription and chromatin remodeling. Ikaros is a master regulator of hematopoiesis and an established tumor suppressor. Moderate alteration of Ikaros activity (e.g. haploinsufficiency) appears to be sufficient to promote malignant transformation in human hematopoietic cells. This raises questions about the mechanisms that normally regulate Ikaros function and the potential of these mechanisms to contribute to the development of leukemia. The focus of this review is the regulation of Ikaros function by phosphorylation/dephosphorylation. Site-specific phosphorylation of Ikaros by casein kinase 2 (CK2) controls Ikaros DNA-binding ability and subcellular localization. As a consequence, the ability of Ikaros to regulate cell cycle progression, chromatin remodeling, target gene expression, and thymocyte differentiation are controlled by CK2. In addition, hyperphosphorylation of Ikaros by CK2 leads to decreased Ikaros levels due to ubiquitin-mediated degradation. Dephosphorylation of Ikaros by protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) acts in opposition to CK2 to increase Ikaros stability and restore Ikaros DNA binding ability and pericentromeric localization. Thus, the CK2 and PP1 pathways act in concert to regulate Ikaros activity in hematopoiesis and as a tumor suppressor. This highlights the importance of these signal transduction pathways as potential mediators of leukemogenesis via their role in regulating the activities of Ikaros.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4331/wjbc.v2.i6.126DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3135859PMC
June 2011

Suppression of the mouse double minute 4 gene causes changes in cell cycle control in a human mesothelial cell line responsive to ultraviolet radiation exposure.

Environ Mol Mutagen 2009 Dec;50(9):753-9

The University of Montana, Center for Environmental Health Sciences, Missoula, Montana, USA.

The TP53 tumor suppressor gene is the most frequently inactivated gene in human cancer identified to date. However, TP53 mutations are rare in human mesotheliomas, as well as in many other types of cancer, suggesting that aberrant TP53 function may be due to alterations in its regulatory pathways. Mouse double minute 4 (MDM4) has been shown to be a key regulator of TP53 activity, both independently as well as in concert with its structural homolog, Mouse Double Minute 2 (MDM2). The purpose of this study was to characterize the effects of MDM4 suppression on TP53 and other proteins involved in cell cycle control before and after ultraviolet (UV) exposure in MeT5a cells, a nonmalignant human mesothelial line. Short hairpin RNA (shRNA) was used to investigate the impact of MDM4 on TP53 function and cellular transcription. Suppression of MDM4 was confirmed by Western blot. MDM4 suppressed cells were analyzed for cell cycle changes with and without exposure to UV. Changes in cell growth as well as differences in the regulation of direct transcriptional targets of TP53, CDKN1A (cyclin-dependent kinase 1alpha, p21) and BAX, suggest a shift from cell cycle arrest to apoptosis upon increasing UV exposure. These results demonstrate the importance of MDM4in cell cycle regulation as well as a possible role inthe pathogenesis of mesothelioma-type cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/em.20498DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2789868PMC
December 2009
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