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Mol Cancer Ther. 2013 Dec;12(12):2735-47. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-13-0323. Epub 2013 Oct 7.

APG350 induces superior clustering of TRAIL receptors and shows therapeutic antitumor efficacy independent of cross-linking via Fcγ receptors.

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Corresponding Author: Oliver Hill, Apogenix GmbH, Im Neuenheimer Feld 584, Heidelberg 69120, Germany. Phone: 49-6221-58608-18; Fax: 49-6221-58608-10; E-Mail:


Cancer cells can be specifically driven into apoptosis by activating Death-receptor-4 (DR4; TRAIL-R1) and/or Death-receptor-5 (DR5; TRAIL-R2). Albeit showing promising preclinical efficacy, first-generation protein therapeutics addressing this pathway, especially agonistic anti-DR4/DR5-monoclonal antibodies, have not been clinically successful to date. Due to their bivalent binding mode, effective apoptosis induction by agonistic TRAIL-R antibodies is achieved only upon additional events leading to antibody-multimer formation. The binding of these multimers to their target subsequently leads to effective receptor-clustering on cancer cells. The research results presented here report on a new class of TRAIL-receptor agonists overcoming this intrinsic limitation observed for antibodies in general. The main feature of these agonists is a TRAIL-mimic consisting of three TRAIL-protomer subsequences combined in one polypeptide chain, termed the single-chain TRAIL-receptor-binding domain (scTRAIL-RBD). In the active compounds, two scTRAIL-RBDs with three receptor binding sites each are brought molecularly in close proximity resulting in a fusion protein with a hexavalent binding mode. In the case of APG350-the prototype of this engineering concept-this is achieved by fusing the Fc-part of a human immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1)-mutein C-terminally to the scTRAIL-RBD polypeptide, thereby creating six receptor binding sites per drug molecule. In vitro, APG350 is a potent inducer of apoptosis on human tumor cell lines and primary tumor cells. In vivo, treatment of mice bearing Colo205-xenograft tumors with APG350 showed a dose-dependent antitumor efficacy. By dedicated muteins, we confirmed that the observed in vivo efficacy of the hexavalent scTRAIL-RBD fusion proteins is-in contrast to agonistic antibodies-independent of FcγR-based cross-linking events.

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