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CD176 (Thomsen-Friedenreich antigen) is a tumor-associated carbohydrate structure. In a previous study, we observed that the anti-CD176 antibody can induce the apoptosis of CD176-positive leukemic cells. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms of apoptosis induced by the CD176 antibody. We found that CD95 (FAS, APO-1) and the death receptor 4 (DR4) (TRAIL-R1) are co-expressed with CD176 on the surface of defined leukemic cells as observed by confocal microscopy and flow cytometry analyses. Further-more, CD95, CD45, CD43 and DR4 are carrier proteins of CD176 in hematopoietic cells recognized by means of sandwich solid-phase enzyme linked immunosorbent assay and co-immunoprecipitation. As shown by microarray analysis, 20 genes which are directly related to the execution, induction or positive regulation of apoptosis, were up-regulated after CD176 antibody treatment of the KG1 cell line. Nine differentially expressed genes observed in the microarray analysis were verified by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in the KG1 and MT4 cell lines. Six genes (DAXX, CASP3, CHUK, RIPK2, NFKBIA and DFFA) out of these nine are involved in five apoptotic pathways: The CD95 signaling pathway, the DR3 and DR4/5 death receptor pathway, caspase cascade in apoptosis, the mitochondrial signaling pathway, and apoptotic DNA fragmentation and tissue homeo-stasis. Thus, we hypothesized that the CD176 antibody binds to the CD176 carbohydrate structure present on apoptosis-associated glycoproteins, such as CD95 and DR4 at the cellular surface, which activates apoptotic pathways, and consequently results in the apoptosis of CD176-positive cells. CD176 is expressed at the surface of human leukemic cells, but is almost absent in normal and benign adult human tissues. Thus, CD176 could be a promising target for anti-tumor therapy based on the induction of tumor-specific apoptosis.


Bin Yi, Min Zhang, Reinhard Schwartz-Albiez, Yi Cao. Mechanisms of the apoptosis induced by CD176 antibody in human leukemic cells. International journal of oncology. 2011 Jun;38(6):1565-73

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PMID: 21455576

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