Publications by authors named "Elisa Tremante"

25 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Time to focus on circulating nucleic acids for diagnosis and monitoring of gliomas: A systematic review of their role as biomarkers.

Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol 2021 Jan 5. Epub 2021 Jan 5.

Department of Research, Advanced Diagnostics and Technological Innovation, Genomic and Epigenetic Unit, Translational Research Area, IRCCS Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy.

Gliomas are diffusely growing tumours arising from progenitors within the central nervous system. They encompass a range of different molecular types and subtypes, many of which have a well-defined profile of driver mutations, copy number changes and DNA methylation patterns. A majority of gliomas will require surgical intervention to relieve raised intracranial pressure and reduce tumour burden. A proportion of tumours, however, are located in neurologically sensitive areas and a biopsy poses a significant risk of a deficit. A majority of gliomas recur after surgery, and monitoring tumour burden of the recurrence is currently achieved by imaging. However, most imaging modalities have limitations in assessing tumour burden and infiltration into adjacent brain, and sometimes imaging is unable to discriminate between tumour recurrence and pseudo-progression. Liquid biopsies, obtained from body fluids such as cerebrospinal fluid or blood, contain circulating nucleic acids or extracellular vesicles containing tumour-derived components. The studies for this systematic review were selected according to PRISMA criteria, and suggest that the detection of circulating tumour-derived nucleic acids holds great promises as biomarker to aid diagnosis and prognostication by monitoring tumour progression, and thus can be considered a pathway towards personalized medicine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nan.12691DOI Listing
January 2021

Liquid biopsy in mice bearing colorectal carcinoma xenografts: gateways regulating the levels of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and miRNA (ctmiRNA).

J Exp Clin Cancer Res 2018 Jun 26;37(1):124. Epub 2018 Jun 26.

Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Section, Ferrara University, Via Fossato di Mortara 74, 44121, Ferrara, Italy.

Background: Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and miRNA (ctmiRNA) are promising biomarkers for early tumor diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring, and to predict therapeutic response. However, a clear understanding of the fine control on their circulating levels is still lacking.

Methods: Three human colorectal carcinoma cell lines were grown in culture and as tumor xenograft models in nude mice. Chip-based and droplet digital PCR platforms were used to systematically and quantitatively assess the levels of DNAs and miRNAs released into the culture supernatants and mouse blood plasma.

Results: Strikingly, mutated DNAs from the same (KRAS) and different (PIK3CA and FBWX7) genomic loci were differentially detected in culture supernatants and blood, with LS174T releasing 25 to 60 times less DNA in culture, but giving rise to 7 to 8 times more DNA in blood than LoVo cells. Greater LS174T ctDNA accumulation occurred in spite of similar CD31 immunostaining (micro-vascularization) and lesser proliferation and tissue necrosis as compared to LoVo. As to the three selected miRNAs (miR-221, miR-222 and miR-141), all of them were constitutively present in the plasma of tumor-free mice. Micro-RNA miR-141 was released into HT-29 cell supernatants 10 and 6.5 times less abundantly with respect to LoVo and LS174T, respectively; on the contrary, release of miR-141 in blood of HT-29 xenografted mice was found similar to that observed in LoVo and LS174T mice.

Conclusions: Taken together, our results support the existence of multiple, finely tuned (non-housekeeping) control gateways that selectively regulate the release/accumulation of distinct ctDNA and miRNA species in culture and tumor xenograft models. Different xenografts (proxies of different patients) considerably differ in gateway usage, adding several layers of complexity to the well-known idea of molecular heterogeneity. We predict that even high tissue representation of mutated DNA and miRNA may result in insufficient diagnostic analyte representation in blood. In this respect, our data show that careful modeling in mice may considerably help to alleviate complexity, for instance by pre-screening for the most abundant circulating analytes in enlarged sets of tumor xenografts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13046-018-0788-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6020232PMC
June 2018

The presence of glutamate residues on the PAS sequence of the stimuli-sensitive nano-ferritin improves in vivo biodistribution and mitoxantrone encapsulation homogeneity.

J Control Release 2018 04 20;275:177-185. Epub 2018 Feb 20.

Institute of Molecular Biology and Pathology, CNR - National Research Council of Italy, 00185 Rome, Italy. Electronic address:

A genetically engineered human ferritin heavy chain (HFt)-based construct has been recently shown by our group to efficiently entrap and deliver doxorubicin to cancer cells. This construct, named HFt-MP-PAS, contained a tumor-selective sequence (MP) responsive to proteolytic cleavage by tumor proteases (MMPs), located between each HFt subunit and an outer shielding polypeptide sequence rich in proline (P), serine (S) and alanine (A) residues (PAS). HFt-MP-PAS displayed excellent therapeutic efficacy in xenogenic pancreatic and head and neck cancer models in vivo, leading to a significant increase in overall animal survivals. Here we report a new construct obtained by the genetic insertion of two glutamate residues in the PAS sequence of HFt-MP-PAS. Such new construct, named HFt-MP-PASE, is characterized by improved performances as drug biodistribution in a xenogenic pancreatic cancer model in vivo. Moreover, HFt-MP-PASE efficiently encapsulates the anti-cancer drug mitoxantrone (MIT), and the resulting MIT-loaded nanoparticles proved to be more soluble and monodispersed than the HFt-MP-PAS counterparts. Importantly, in vitro MIT-loaded HFt-MP-PASE kills several cancer cell lines of different origin (colon, breast, sarcoma and pancreas) at least as efficiently as the free drug. Finally, our MIT loaded protein nanocages allowed in vivo an impressive incrementing of the drug accumulation in the tumor with respect to the free drug.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jconrel.2018.02.025DOI Listing
April 2018

Bloch Surface Waves Biosensors for High Sensitivity Detection of Soluble ERBB2 in a Complex Biological Environment.

Biosensors (Basel) 2017 Aug 17;7(3). Epub 2017 Aug 17.

Department of Basic and Applied Science for Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome, Via A. Scarpa 16, 00161 Rome, Italy.

We report on the use of one-dimensional photonic crystals to detect clinically relevant concentrations of the cancer biomarker ERBB2 in cell lysates. Overexpression of the ERBB2 protein is associated with aggressive breast cancer subtypes. To detect soluble ERBB2, we developed an optical set-up which operates in both label-free and fluorescence modes. The detection approach makes use of a sandwich assay, in which the one-dimensional photonic crystals sustaining Bloch surface waves are modified with monoclonal antibodies, in order to guarantee high specificity during the biological recognition. We present the results of exemplary protein G based label-free assays in complex biological matrices, reaching an estimated limit of detection of 0.5 ng/mL. On-chip and chip-to-chip variability of the results is addressed too, providing repeatability rates. Moreover, results on fluorescence operation demonstrate the capability to perform high sensitive cancer biomarker assays reaching a resolution of 0.6 ng/mL, without protein G assistance. The resolution obtained in both modes meets international guidelines and recommendations (15 ng/mL) for ERBB2 quantification assays, providing an alternative tool to phenotype and diagnose molecular cancer subtypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/bios7030033DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618039PMC
August 2017

Detection of soluble ERBB2 in breast cancer cell lysates using a combined label-free/fluorescence platform based on Bloch surface waves.

Biosens Bioelectron 2017 Jun 9;92:125-130. Epub 2017 Feb 9.

Department of Basic and Applied Science for Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome, Via A. Scarpa 16, 00161 Rome, Italy.

We report on the use of one-dimensional photonic crystals to detect clinically relevant concentrations of ERBB2/neu/Her2 in cell lysates. ERBB2 is a pivotal breast cancer biomarker and targetable oncogenic driver associated with aggressive breast cancer subtypes. To quantitate soluble ERBB2, we developed an optical platform that combines label-free and fluorescence detection modes. Such platform makes use of a sandwich assay in which the one-dimensional photonic crystals sustaining Bloch surface waves are tailored with a monoclonal antibody for highly specific biological recognition (BSW biochip). In a second step, a second antibody to ERBB2 quantitatively detects the bound analyte. The strategy of the present approach takes advantage of the combination of label-free and fluorescence techniques, making bio-recognition more robust and sensitive. In the fluorescence operation mode, the platform can attain the limit of detection 0.3ng/mL (1.5pM) for ERBB2 in cell lysates. Such resolution meets the international guidelines and recommendations (15ng/mL) for diagnostic ERBB2 assays that in the future may help to more precisely assign therapies counteracting cancer cell proliferation and metastatic spread.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2017.02.012DOI Listing
June 2017

Selective delivery of doxorubicin by novel stimuli-sensitive nano-ferritins overcomes tumor refractoriness.

J Control Release 2016 10 12;239:10-8. Epub 2016 Aug 12.

Institute of Molecular Biology and Pathology, CNR - National Research Council of Italy, 00185 Rome, Italy. Electronic address:

Human ferritin heavy chain (HFt) has been demonstrated to possess considerable potential for targeted delivery of drugs and diagnostic agents to cancer cells. Here, we report the development of a novel HFt-based genetic construct (HFt-MP-PAS) containing a short peptide linker (MP) between each HFt subunit and an outer shielding polypeptide sequence rich in proline (P), serine (S) and alanine (A) residues (PAS). The peptide linker contains a matrix-metalloproteinases (MMPs) cleavage site that permits the protective PAS shield to be removed by tumor-driven proteolytic cleavage within the tumor microenvironment. For the first time HFt-MP-PAS ability to deliver doxorubicin to cancer cells, subcellular localization, and therapeutic efficacy on a xenogeneic mouse model of a highly refractory to conventional chemotherapeutics type of cancer were evaluated. HFt-MP-PAS-DOXO performance was compared with the novel albumin-based drug delivery system INNO-206, currently in phase III clinical trials. The results of this work provide solid evidence indicating that the stimuli-sensitive, long-circulating HFt-MP-PAS nanocarriers described herein have the potential to be exploited in cancer therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jconrel.2016.08.010DOI Listing
October 2016

Improved Doxorubicin Encapsulation and Pharmacokinetics of Ferritin-Fusion Protein Nanocarriers Bearing Proline, Serine, and Alanine Elements.

Biomacromolecules 2016 Feb 30;17(2):514-22. Epub 2015 Dec 30.

Institute of Molecular Biology and Pathology CNR, National Research Council of Italy , 00185 Rome, Italy.

A novel human ferritin-based nanocarrier, composed of 24 modified monomers able to auto-assemble into a modified protein cage, was produced and used as selective carrier of anti-tumor payloads. Each modified monomer derives from the genetic fusion of two distinct modules, namely the heavy chain of human ferritin (HFt) and a stabilizing/protective PAS polypeptide sequence rich in proline (P), serine (S), and alanine (A) residues. Two genetically fused protein constructs containing PAS polymers with 40- and 75-residue lengths, respectively, were compared. They were produced and purified as recombinant proteins in Escherichia coli at high yields. Both preparations were highly soluble and stable in vitro as well as in mouse plasma. Size-exclusion chromatography, dynamic light scattering, and transmission electron microscopy results indicated that PASylated ferritins are fully assembled and highly monodispersed. In addition, yields and stability of encapsulated doxorubicin were significantly better for both HFt-PAS proteins than for wild-type HFt. Importantly, PAS sequences considerably prolonged the half-life of HFt in the mouse bloodstream. Finally, our doxorubicin-loaded nanocages preserved the pharmacological activity of the drug. Taken together, these results indicate that both of the developed HFt-PAS fusion proteins are promising nanocarriers for future applications in cancer therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.biomac.5b01446DOI Listing
February 2016

Sub-apoptotic dosages of pro-oxidant vitamin cocktails sensitize human melanoma cells to NK cell lysis.

Oncotarget 2015 Oct;6(31):31039-49

Laboratory of Immunology, Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, 00144 Rome, Italy.

Alpha-tocopheryl succinate (αTOS), vitamin K3 (VK3) and vitamin C (ascorbic acid, AA) were previously shown to synergistically promote different death pathways in carcinoma cells, depending on their concentrations and combinations. Similar effects were observed herein in melanoma cells, although αTOS behaved as an antagonist. Interestingly, suboptimal cell death-inducing concentrations (1.5 μM αTOS/20 μM AA/0.2 μM VK3) effectively up-regulated activating Natural Killer (NK) cell ligands, including MICA (the stress-signaling ligand of the NKG2D receptor), and/or the ligands of at least one of the natural cytotoxicity receptors (NKp30, NKp44 and NKp46) in 5/6 melanoma cell lines. Only an isolated MICA down-regulation was seen. HLA class I, HLA class II, ULBP1, ULBP2, ULBP3, Nectin-2, and PVR displayed little, if any, change in expression. Ligand up-regulation resulted in improved lysis by polyclonal NK cells armed with the corresponding activating receptors. These results provide the first evidence for concerted induction of cell death by cell-autonomous and extrinsic (immune) mechanisms. Alarming the immune system much below the cell damage threshold may have evolved as a sensitive readout of neoplastic transformation and oxidative stress. Cocktails of vitamin analogues at slightly supra-physiological dosages may find application as mild complements of melanoma treatment, and in chemoprevention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.5024DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4741587PMC
October 2015

Up-regulation of activating and inhibitory NKG2 receptors in allogeneic and autologous hematopoietic stem cell grafts.

J Exp Clin Cancer Res 2015 Sep 11;34:98. Epub 2015 Sep 11.

Laboratory of Immunology, Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, Via Elio Chianesi 53, 00144, Rome, Italy.

Background: Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) is known to induce the inhibitory immune receptor NKG2A on NK cells of donor origin. This occurs in allogeneic recipients, in both the haploidentical and HLA-matched settings.

Methods: To gain further insight, not only NKG2A, but also the activating receptors NKG2C and NKG2D were assessed by flow cytometry. Immunophenotyping was carried out not only on CD56(+) but also on CD8(+) lymphocytes from leukemia and lymphoma patients, receiving both HLA-matched (n = 7) and autologous (n = 5) HSCT grafts. Moreover, cognate NKG2 ligands (HLA-E, MICA, ULBP-1, ULBP-2 and ULBP-3) were assessed by immunohistochemistry in diagnostic biopsies from three autotransplanted patients, and at relapse in one case.

Results: All the NKG2 receptors were simultaneously up-regulated in all the allotransplanted patients on CD8(+) and/or CD56(+) cells between 30 and 90 days post-transplant, coinciding with, or following, allogeneic engraftment. Up-regulation was of lesser entity and restricted to CD8(+) cells in the autotransplantation setting. The phenotypic expression ratio between activating and inhibitory NKG2 receptors was remarkably similar in all the patients, except two outliers (a long survivor and a short survivor) who surprisingly displayed a similar NKG2 activation immunophenotype. Tumor expression of 2 to 3 out of the 5 tested NKG2 ligands was observed in 3/3 diagnostic biopsies, and 3 ligands were up-regulated post-transplant in a patient.

Conclusions: Altogether, these results are consistent with a dual (activation-inhibition) NK cell re-education mode, an innate-like T cell re-tuning, and a ligand:receptor interplay between the tumor and the immune system following HSCT including, most interestingly, the up-regulation of several activating NKG2 ligands. Turning the immune receptor balance toward activation on both T and NK cells of donor origin may complement ex vivo NK cell expansion/activation strategies in unmanipulated patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13046-015-0213-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4567793PMC
September 2015

Monoclonal antibodies to HLA-E bind epitopes carried by unfolded β2 m-free heavy chains.

Eur J Immunol 2015 Aug 5;45(8):2356-64. Epub 2015 Jun 5.

Laboratory of Immunology, Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy.

Since HLA-E heavy chains accumulate free of their light β2 -microglobulin (β2 m) subunit, raising mAbs to folded HLA-E heterodimers has been difficult, and mAb characterization has been controversial. Herein, mAb W6/32 and 5 HLA-E-restricted mAbs (MEM-E/02, MEM-E/07, MEM-E/08, DT9, and 3D12) were tested on denatured, acid-treated, and natively folded (both β2 m-associated and β2 m-free) HLA-E molecules. Four distinct conformations were detected, including unusual, partially folded (and yet β2 m-free) heavy chains reactive with mAb DT9. In contrast with previous studies, epitope mapping and substitution scan on thousands of overlapping peptides printed on microchips revealed that mAbs MEM-E/02, MEM-E/07, and MEM-E/08 bind three distinct α1 and α2 domain epitopes. All three epitopes are linear since they span just 4-6 residues and are "hidden" in folded HLA-E heterodimers. They contain at least one HLA-E-specific residue that cannot be replaced by single substitutions with polymorphic HLA-A, HLA-B, HLA-C, HLA-F, and HLA-G residues. Finally, also the MEM-E/02 and 3D12 epitopes are spatially distinct. In summary, HLA-E-specific residues are dominantly immunogenic, but only when heavy chains are locally unfolded. Consequently, the available mAbs fail to selectively bind conformed HLA-E heterodimers, and HLA-E expression may have been inaccurately assessed in some previous oncology, reproductive immunology, virology, and transplantation studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eji.201545446DOI Listing
August 2015

Antibody-drug conjugates: targeting melanoma with cisplatin encapsulated in protein-cage nanoparticles based on human ferritin.

Nanoscale 2013 Dec;5(24):12278-85

CNR - National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Molecular Biology and Pathology, Rome, Italy.

A novel antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) was synthesized incorporating ferritin-based nanoparticles. An average of three molecules of monoclonal antibody (mAb) Ep1 to the human melanoma-specific antigen CSPG4 were conjugated to a single ferritin cage encapsulating about 50 cisplatin molecules (HFt-Pt-Ep1). The HFt-Pt-Ep1 nanoparticle had an estimated molecular size of about 900 kD and 33 nm, and flow cytometry demonstrated specific binding to a CSPG4(+) melanoma cell line, but not to a CSPG4(-) breast carcinoma cell line. As compared to the cisplatin-containing ferritin nanoparticle alone (HFt-Pt), which inhibited thymidine incorporation more efficiently in breast carcinoma than melanoma cells, the mAb-derivatized HFt-Pt-Ep1 nanoparticle had a 25-fold preference for the latter. A similar preference for melanoma was observed upon systemic intravenous administration of HFt-Pt-Ep1 to nude mice xenotransplanted with pre-established, palpable melanoma and breast carcinoma tumors. Thus, we have been able to determine precise combinations and stoichiometric relationships between mAbs and nanoparticle protein cages, whereby the latter lose their tropism for ubiquitously distributed cellular receptors, and acquire instead remarkably lineage-selective binding. HFt-Pt-Ep1 is therefore an interesting model to improve the therapeutic index of antiblastic therapy in a tumor such as melanoma, which at its advanced stages is totally refractory to mono- and combination-chemotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c3nr04268eDOI Listing
December 2013

Comment on "Influence of HLA-C expression level on HIV control".

Science 2013 Sep;341(6151):1175

Istituto Nazionale Tumori Regina Elena, Via delle Messi d'Oro 156, 00158 Roma, Italy.

Apps et al. (Reports, 5 April 2013, p. 87) found that high human leukocyte antigen C (HLA-C) expression favors HIV-1 control. However, as noted here, HLA-C was assessed with a monoclonal antibody (DT9) that cross-reacts with HLA-E. In the context of the available evidence, this is consistent with the idea that the two leukocyte antigens collaborate to keep the HIV-1 virus at bay.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1241266DOI Listing
September 2013

A melanoma immune response signature including Human Leukocyte Antigen-E.

Pigment Cell Melanoma Res 2014 Jan 9;27(1):103-12. Epub 2013 Oct 9.

Laboratory of Immunology, Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy.

Paired cultures of early-passage melanoma cells and melanocytes were established from metastatic lesions and the uninvolved skin of five patients. In this stringent autologous setting, cDNA profiling was used to analyze a subset of 1477 genes selected by the Gene Ontology term 'immune response'. Human Leukocyte Antigen E (HLA-E) was ranked 19th among melanoma-overexpressed genes and was embedded in a transformation signature including its preferred peptide ligand donors HLA-A, HLA-B, HLA-C, and HLA-G. Mostly undetectable in normal skin and 39 nevi (including rare and atypical lesions), HLA-E was detected by immunohistochemistry in 17/30 (57%) and 32/48 (67%) primary and metastatic lesions, respectively. Accordingly, surface HLA-E was higher on melanoma cells than on melanocytes and protected the former (6/6 cell lines) from lysis by natural killer (NK) cells, functionally counteracting co-expressed triggering ligands. Although lacking HLA-E, melanocytes (4/4 cultures) were nevertheless (and surprisingly) fully protected from NK cell lysis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/pcmr.12164DOI Listing
January 2014

Programmable interactions of functionalized single bioparticles in a dielectrophoresis-based microarray chip.

Anal Chem 2013 Sep 22;85(17):8219-24. Epub 2013 Aug 22.

Silicon Biosystems, Bologna, Italy.

Manipulating single biological objects is a major unmet challenge of biomedicine. Herein, we describe a lab-on-a-chip platform based on dielectrophoresis (DEP). The DEParray is a prototypal version consisting of 320 × 320 arrayed electrodes generating >10,000 spherical DEP cages. It allows the capture and software-guided movement to predetermined spatial coordinates of single biological objects. With the DEParray we demonstrate (a) forced interaction between a single, preselected target cell and a programmable number of either microspheres or natural killer (NK) cells, (b) on-chip immunophenotypic discrimination of individual cells based on differential rosetting with microspheres functionalized with monoclonal antibodies to an inhibitory NK cell ligand (HLA-G), (c) on-chip, real-time (few minutes) assessment of immune lysis by either visual inspection or semiautomated, time-lapse reading of a fluorescent dye released from NK cell-sensitive targets, and (d) manipulation and immunophenotyping with limiting amounts (about 500) cells. To our knowledge, this is the first report describing a DEP-based lab-on-a-chip platform for the quick, arrayed, software-guided binding of individually moved biological objects, the targeting of single cells with microspheres, and the real-time characterization of immunophenotypes. The DEParray candidates as a discovery tool for novel cell:cell interactions with no prior (immuno)phenotypic knowledge.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ac401296mDOI Listing
September 2013

T and NK cells: two sides of tumor immunoevasion.

J Transl Med 2013 Feb 4;11:30. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

Paediatric Haematology/Oncology Department, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, IRCCS, Piazza Sant’Onofrio 4, Rome 00165, Italy.

Natural Killer (NK) cells are known to reject several experimental murine tumors, but their antineoplastic activity in humans is not generally agreed upon, as exemplified by an interesting correspondence recently appeared in Cancer Research. In the present commentary, we join the discussion and bring to the attention of the readers of the Journal of Translational Medicine a set of recent, related reports. These studies demonstrate that effectors of the adaptive and innate immunity need to actively cooperate in order to reject tumors and, conversely, tumors protect themselves by dampening both T and NK cell responses. The recently reported ability of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) expressed by melanoma cells to down-regulate activating NK receptors is yet another piece of evidence supporting combined and highly effective T/NK cell disabling. Major Histocompatibility Complex class I (MHC-I) molecules, including Human Leukocyte Antigen E (HLA-E), represent another class of shared activating/inhibitory ligands. Ongoing clinical trials with small molecules interfering with IDO and PGE2 may be exploiting an immune bonus to control cancer. Conversely, failure to simultaneously engage effectors of both the innate and the adaptive immunity may contribute to explain the limited clinical efficacy of T cell-only vaccination trials. Shared (T/NK cells) natural immunosuppressants and activating/inhibitory ligands expressed by tumor cells may provide mechanistic insight into impaired gathering and function of immune effectors at the tumor site.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1479-5876-11-30DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3621684PMC
February 2013

Melanoma molecular classes and prognosis in the postgenomic era.

Lancet Oncol 2012 May;13(5):e205-11

Laboratory of Immunology, Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy.

Gene expression profiling is a powerful method to classify human tumours on the basis of biological aggressiveness, response to therapy, and outcome for the patient, but its application in melanoma lags behind that of other cancers. From more than 100 articles available on the topic, we selected 14 focusing on patients' outcome. We review and briefly discuss salient findings, and list ten reasons why melanoma molecular classes are not yet used in clinical diagnosis and prognosis. The available evidence suggests that we are on the verge of creating a framework for the use of melanoma molecular classes in prognosis, but so far there is little consensus to put together informative diagnostic and prognostic gene sets.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(12)70003-7DOI Listing
May 2012

High expression of HLA-E in colorectal carcinoma is associated with a favorable prognosis.

J Transl Med 2011 Oct 27;9:184. Epub 2011 Oct 27.

Department of Pathology, Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, Via E. Chianesi 53, 00144 Rome, Italy.

Background: Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)-E is a non-classical class I HLA molecule that can be stabilized by ligands donated by other classical (HLA-A, -B, -C) and non-classical (HLA-G) family members. HLA-E engages a variety of immune receptors expressed by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), Natural killer (NK) cells and NK-CTLs. In view of the opposing outcomes (activation or inhibition) of the different HLA-E receptors, the preferred role (if any) of HLA-E expressed in vivo on tumor cells remains to be established.

Methods: Taking advantage of MEM-E/02, a recently characterized antibody to denatured HLA-E molecules, HLA-E expression was assessed by immunohistochemistry on an archival collection (formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded) of 149 colorectal primary carcinoma lesions paired with their morphologically normal mucosae. Lymphoid infiltrates were assessed for the expression of the HLA-E-specific, inhibitory, non-rearranging receptor NKG2A.

Results: High HLA-E expression did not significantly correlate with the expression of classical HLA-B and HLA-C molecules, but it did correlate with high expression of its preferential ligand donor HLA-A. In addition, it correlated with lymphoid cell infiltrates expressing the inhibitory NKG2A receptor, and was an independent predictor of good prognosis, particularly in a subset of patients whose tumors express HLA-A levels resembling those of their paired normal counterparts (HLA-A). Thus, combination phenotypes (HLA-Elo-int/HLA-AE and HLA-Ehi/HLA-AE) of classical and non-classical class I HLA molecules mark two graded levels of good prognosis.

Conclusions: These results suggest that HLA-E favors activating immune responses to colorectal carcinoma. They also provide evidence in humans that tumor cells entertain extensive negotiation with the immune system until a compromise between recognition and escape is reached. It is implied that this process occurs stepwise, as predicted by the widely accepted 'immunoediting' model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1479-5876-9-184DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3219584PMC
October 2011

Human leukocyte antigen E contributes to protect tumor cells from lysis by natural killer cells.

Neoplasia 2011 Sep;13(9):822-30

Laboratory of Immunology, Regina Elena Cancer Institute CRS, Rome, Italy.

The nonclassic class I human leukocyte antigen E (HLA-E) molecule engages the inhibitory NKG2A receptor on several cytotoxic effectors, including natural killer (NK) cells. Its tissue distribution was claimed to be wider in normal than in neoplastic tissues, and surface HLA-E was undetectable in most tumor cell lines. Herein, these issues were reinvestigated taking advantage of HLA-E-specific antibodies, immunohistochemistry, and biochemical methods detecting intracellular and surface HLA-E regardless of conformation. Contrary to published evidence, HLA-E was detected in a few normal epithelia and in a large fraction (approximately 1/3) of solid tumors, including those derived from HLA-E-negative/low-normal counterparts. Remarkably, HLA-E was detected in 30 of 30 tumor cell lines representative of major lymphoid and nonlymphoid lineages, and in 11 of 11, it was surface-expressed, although in a conformation poorly reactive with commonly used antibodies. Coexpression of HLA-E and HLA class I ligand donors was not required for surface expression but was associated with NKG2A-mediated protection from lysis by the cytotoxic cell line NKL and polyclonal NK cells from healthy donors, as demonstrated by antibody-mediated relief of protection in 10% to 20% of the tested target-effector combinations. NKG2A-mediated protection of additional targets became evident on NK effector blocking with antibodies to activating receptors (DNAM-1, natural cytotoxicity receptors, and NKG2D). Thus, initial evidence that the long-elusive HLA-E molecule is enhanced by malignant transformation and is functional in tumor cells is presented here, although its importance and precise functional role remain to be addressed in the context of a general understanding of the NK ligand-receptor network.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3182274PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.1593/neo.101684DOI Listing
September 2011

Natural killer cells efficiently reject lymphoma silenced for the endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidase associated with antigen processing.

Cancer Res 2011 Mar 20;71(5):1597-606. Epub 2011 Jan 20.

Oncohaematology Department, IRCCS, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, Rome, Italy.

The endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidase ERAAP is involved in the final trimming of peptides for presentation by MHC class I (MHC-I) molecules. Herein, we show that ERAAP silencing results in MHC-I peptide-loading defects eliciting rejection of the murine T-cell lymphoma RMA in syngeneic mice. Although CD4 and CD8 T cells are also involved, rejection is mainly due to an immediate natural killer (NK) cell response and depends on the MHC-I-peptide repertoire because replacement of endogenous peptides with correctly trimmed, high-affinity peptides is sufficient to restore an NK-protective effect of MHC-I molecules through the Ly49C/I NK inhibitory receptors. At the crossroad between innate and adaptive immunity, ERAAP is therefore unique in its two-tiered ability to control tumor immunogenicity. Because a large fraction of human tumors express high levels of the homologous ERAP1 and/or ERAP2, the present findings highlight a convenient, novel target for cancer immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-3326DOI Listing
March 2011

HLA-E and the origin of immunogenic self HLA epitopes.

Mol Immunol 2010 May 22;47(9):1661-2; author reply 1163-4. Epub 2010 Jan 22.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molimm.2009.12.018DOI Listing
May 2010

Class I HLA folding and antigen presentation in beta 2-microglobulin-defective Daudi cells.

J Immunol 2009 Mar;182(6):3609-17

Laboratory of Immunology, Regina Elena Cancer Institute Centro della Ricerca Sperimentale, Rome, Italy.

To present virus and tumor Ags, HLA class I molecules undergo a complex multistep assembly involving discrete but transient folding intermediates. The most extensive folding abnormalities occur in cells lacking the class I L chain subunit, called beta(2)-microglobulin (beta(2)m). Herein, this issue was investigated taking advantage of eight conformational murine mAbs (including the prototypic W6/32 mAb) to mapped H chain epitopes of class I molecules, four human mAbs to class I alloantigens, as well as radioimmunoprecipitation, in vitro assembly, pulse-chase, flow cytometry, and peptide-pulse/ELISPOT experiments. We show that endogenous (HLA-A1, -A66, and -B58) as well as transfected (HLA-A2) heavy chains in beta(2)m-defective Burkitt lymphoma Daudi cells are capable of being expressed on the cell surface, although at low levels, and exclusively as immature glycoforms. In addition, HLA-A2 is: 1) partially folded at crucial interfaces with beta(2)m, peptide Ag, and CD8; 2) receptive to exogenous peptide; and 3) capable of presenting exogenous peptide epitopes (from virus and tumor Ags) to cytotoxic T lymphocytes (bulk populations as well as clones) educated in a beta(2)m-positive environment. These experiments demonstrate a precursor-product relationship between novel HLA class I folding intermediates, and define a stepwise mechanism whereby distinct interfaces of the class I H chain undergo successive, ligand-induced folding adjustments in vitro as well as in vivo. Due to this unprecedented class I plasticity, Daudi is the first human cell line in which folding and function of class I HLA molecules are observed in the absence of beta(2)m. These findings bear potential implications for tumor immunotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.0802316DOI Listing
March 2009

HLA-E: strong association with beta2-microglobulin and surface expression in the absence of HLA class I signal sequence-derived peptides.

J Immunol 2008 Oct;181(8):5442-50

Laboratory of Immunology, Regina Elena Cancer Institute Centro Ricerco Sperimentale, Rome, Italy.

The nonclassical class I HLA-E molecule folds in the presence of peptide ligands donated by the signal sequences of permissive class I HLA alleles, with the aid of TAP and tapasin. To identify HLA-E-specific Abs, four monoclonals of the previously described MEM series were screened by isoelectric focusing (IEF) blot and immunoprecipitation/IEF on >30 single-allele class I transfectants and HLA-homozygous B lymphoid cells coexpressing HLA-E and HLA-A, -B, -C, -F, or -G. Despite their HLA-E-restricted reactivity patterns (MEM-E/02 in IEF blot; MEM-E/07 and MEM-E/08 in immunoprecipitation), all of the MEM Abs unexpectedly reacted with beta(2)-microglobulin (beta(2)m)-free and denatured (but not beta(2)m-associated and folded) HLA-E H chains. Remarkably, other HLA-E-restricted Abs were also reactive with free H chains. Immunodepletion, in vitro assembly, flow cytometry, and three distinct surface-labeling methods, including a modified (conformation-independent) biotin-labeling assay, revealed the coexistence of HLA-E conformers with unusual and drastically antithetic features. MEM-reactive conformers were thermally unstable and poorly surface expressed, as expected, whereas beta(2)m-associated conformers were either unstable and weakly reactive with the prototypic conformational Ab W6/32, or exceptionally stable and strongly reactive with Abs to beta(2)m even in cells lacking permissive alleles (721.221), TAP (T2), or tapasin (721.220). Noncanonical, immature (endoglycosidase H-sensitive) HLA-E glycoforms were surface expressed in these cells, whereas mature glycoforms were exclusively expressed (and at much lower levels) in cells carrying permissive alleles. Thus, HLA-E is a good, and not a poor, beta(2)m assembler, and TAP/tapasin-assisted ligand donation is only one, and possibly not even the major, pathway leading to its stabilization and surface expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.181.8.5442DOI Listing
October 2008

N-linked glycosylation selectively regulates the generic folding of HLA-Cw1.

J Biol Chem 2008 Jun 17;283(24):16469-76. Epub 2008 Apr 17.

Laboratory of Immunology, Regina Elena National Cancer Research Institute, Centro della Ricerca Sperimentale, Via delle Messi d'Oro 156, 00158 Rome, Italy.

To resolve primary (glycosylation-assisted) from secondary (glycosylation-independent) quality control steps in the biosynthesis of HLA (human leukocyte antigen) class I glycoproteins, the unique N-linked glycosylation site of the HLA-Cw1 heavy chain was deleted by site-directed mutagenesis. The non-glycosylated Cw1S88G mutant was characterized by flow cytometry, pulse-chase, co-immunoprecipitation, and in vitro assembly assays with synthetic peptide ligands upon transfection in 721.221 and 721.220 cells. The former provide a full set of primary as well as secondary chaperoning interactions, whereas the latter are unable to perform secondary quality control (e.g. proper class I assembly with peptide antigens) as a result of a functional defect of the HLA-dedicated chaperone tapasin. In both transfectants, Cw1S88G displayed a loss/weakening in its generic chaperoning interaction with calreticulin and/or ERp57 and became redistributed toward calnexin, known to bind the most unfolded class I conformers. Despite this, and quite unexpectedly, a weak interaction with the HLA-dedicated chaperone TAP was selectively retained in 721.221. In addition, the ordered, stepwise acquisition of thermal stability/peptide binding was disrupted, resulting in a heterogeneous ensemble of Cw1S88G conformers with unorthodox and unprecedented peptide assembly features. Because a lack of glycosylation and a lack of tapasin-assisted peptide loading have distinct, complementary, and additive effects, the former is separable from (and upstream of) the latter, e.g. primary quality control is suggested to supervise a crucial, generic folding step preliminary to the acquisition of peptide receptivity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M709175200DOI Listing
June 2008

A single bottleneck in HLA-C assembly.

J Biol Chem 2008 Jan 23;283(3):1267-1274. Epub 2007 Oct 23.

Laboratory of Immunology, Regina Elena National Cancer Research Institute, Centro della Ricerca Sperimentale, Via delle Messi d'Oro 156, 00158 Rome, Italy. Electronic address:

Poor assembly of class I major histocompatibility HLA-C heavy chains results in their intracellular accumulation in two forms: free of and associated with their light chain subunit (beta(2)-microglobulin). Both intermediates are retained in the endoplasmic reticulum by promiscuous and HLA-dedicated chaperones and are poorly associated with peptide antigens. In this study, the eight serologically defined HLA-C alleles and the interlocus recombinant HLA-B46 allele (sharing the HLA-C-specific motif KYRV at residues 66-76 of the alpha1-domain alpha-helix) were compared with a large series of HLA-B and HLA-A alleles. Pulse-labeling experiments with HLA-C transfectants and HLA homozygous cell lines demonstrated that KYRV alleles accumulate as free heavy chains because of both poor assembly and post-assembly instability. Reactivity with antibodies to mapped linear epitopes, co-immunoprecipitation experiments, and molecular dynamics simulation studies additionally showed that the KYRV motif confers association to the HLA-dedicated chaperones TAP and tapasin as well as reduced plasticity and unfolding in the peptide-binding groove. Finally, in vitro assembly experiments in cell extracts of the T2 and 721.220 mutant cell lines demonstrated that HLA-Cw1 retains the ability to form a peptide-receptive interface despite a lack of TAP and functional tapasin, respectively. In the context of the available literature, these results indicate that a single locus-specific biosynthetic bottleneck renders HLA-C peptide-selective (rather than peptide-unreceptive) and a preferential natural killer cell ligand.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M708068200DOI Listing
January 2008

Detection of osteoprotegerin (OPG) and its ligand (RANKL) mRNA and protein in femur and tibia of the rat.

J Mol Histol 2005 Feb;36(1-2):59-67

Department of Experimental Medicine and Pathology, Sezione di Anatomia Patologica, Policlinico Umberto I, Viale Regina Elena, 324, 00161, Roma, Italy.

Osteoprotegerin (OPG) and the receptor activator of nuclear factor (NF)-kB ligand (RANKL) are key regulators of osteoclastogenesis. The present study had the main aim of showing the localization of OPG and RANKL mRNA and protein in serial sections of the rat femurs and tibiae by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in situ hybridization (ISH). The main results were: (1) OPG and RANKL mRNA and protein were co-localized in the same cell types, (2) maturative/hypertrophic chondrocytes, osteoblasts, lining cells, periosteal cells and early osteocytes were stained by both IHC and ISH, (3) OPG and RANKL proteins were mainly located in Golgi areas, and the ISH reaction was especially visible in active osteoblasts, (4) immunolabeling was often concentrated into cytoplasmic vacuoles of otherwise negative proliferative chondrocytes; IHC and ISH labeling increased from proliferative to maturative/hypertrophic chondrocytes, (5) the newly laid down bone matrix, cartilage-bone interfaces, cement lines, and trabecular borders showed light OPG and RANKL immunolabeling, (6) about 70% of secondary metaphyseal bone osteocytes showed OPG and RANKL protein expression; most of them were ISH-negative, (7) osteoclasts were mostly unstained by IHC and variably labeled by ISH. The co-expression of OPG and RANKL in the same bone cell types confirms their strictly coupled action in the regulation of bone metabolism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10735-004-3839-1DOI Listing
February 2005