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Cancer Res. 2009 Dec 1;69(23):8987-95. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-2693. Epub 2009 Nov 24.

Construction and characterization of novel, recombinant immunotoxins targeting the Her2/neu oncogene product: in vitro and in vivo studies.

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Immunopharmacology and Targeted Therapy Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


The goal of this study was to characterize a series of anti-Her2/neu immunotoxin constructs to identify how different antibodies and linker choices affect the specificity and cytotoxicity of these proteins. We constructed a series of immunotoxins containing either the human single-chain antibody (scFv) C6.5 or the murine scFv e23 fused to the highly toxic recombinant gelonin (rGel) molecule. Based on the flexible GGGGS linker (L), the fusion construct C6.5-L-rGel was compared with e23-L-rGel to evaluate the specific cytotoxic effects against Her2/neu-positive and Her2/neu-negative tumor cells. Both constructs retained the specificity of the original antibody as well as the biological activity of rGel toxin. The two constructs displayed similar cytotoxicity against different carcinoma cells. We additionally introduced the modified linkers TRHRQPRGWEQL (Fpe) and AGNRVRRSVG (Fdt), which contained furin cleavage sites, to determine the effect of these design changes on stability and cell killing efficiency. The introduction of furin cleavage linkers (Fpe or Fdt) into the molecules resulted in dissimilar sensitivity to protease cleavage compared with the constructs containing the L linker, but very similar intracellular rGel release, cytotoxic kinetics, and induction of autophagic cell death in vitro. Xenograft studies with SKOV3 ovarian tumors were done using various C6.5/rGel constructs. C6.5-L-rGel was more efficient in tumor inhibition than constructs containing furin linkers, attributing to a higher stability in vivo of the L version. Therefore, our studies suggest that human C6.5-L-rGel may be an effective novel clinical agent for therapy of patients with Her2/neu-overexpressing malignancies.

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