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NK cells detect tumors through activating surface receptors, which bind self-antigens that are frequently expressed upon malignant transformation. To increase the recognition of tumor cells, the extracellular domains of ligands of the activating NK cell receptors NKp30, NKp80 and DNAM-1 (i.e. B7-H6, AICL and PVR, respectively) were fused to a single-chain fragment variable (scFv) targeting the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which is displayed by various solid tumors. The resulting immunoligands, designated B7-H6:HER2-scFv, AICL:HER2-scFv, and PVR:HER2-scFv, respectively, bound HER2 and the addressed NK cell receptor. However, whereas B7-H6:HER2-scFv and AICL:HER2-scFv triggered NK cells to kill HER2-positive breast cancer cells at nanomolar concentrations, PVR:HER2-scFv was not efficacious. Moreover, NK cell cytotoxicity was enhanced synergistically when B7-H6:HER2-scFv or AICL:HER2-scFv were applied in combination with another HER2-specific immunoligand engaging the stimulatory receptor NKG2D. In contrast, no improvements were achieved by combining B7-H6:HER2-scFv with AICL:HER2-scFv. Additionally, B7-H6:HER2-scFv and AICL:HER2-scFv enhanced antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) by the therapeutic antibodies trastuzumab and cetuximab synergistically, with B7-H6:HER2-scFv exhibiting a higher efficacy. In summary, antibody-derived proteins engaging NKp30 or NKp80 may represent attractive biologics to further enhance anti-tumor NK cell responses and may provide an innovative approach to sensitize tumor cells for antibody-based immunotherapy.


Matthias Peipp, Stefanie Derer, Stefan Lohse, Matthias Staudinger, Katja Klausz, Thomas Valerius, Martin Gramatzki, Christian Kellner. HER2-specific immunoligands engaging NKp30 or NKp80 trigger NK-cell-mediated lysis of tumor cells and enhance antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Oncotarget. 2015 Oct 13;6(31):32075-88

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PMID: 26392331

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