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A novel fully-human cytolytic fusion protein based on granzyme B shows in vitro cytotoxicity and ex vivo binding to solid tumors overexpressing the epidermal growth factor receptor

: Niesen, J.; Hehmann-Titt, G.; Woitok, M.; Fendel, R.; Barth, S.; Fischer, R.; Stein, C.


Cancer letters 374 (2016), Nr.2, S.229-240
ISSN: 0304-3835
ISSN: 1872-7980
Fraunhofer IME ()

Human cytolytic fusion proteins (hCFPs) offer a promising immunotherapeutic approach for the treatment of solid tumors, avoiding the immunogenicity and undesirable side-effects caused by immunotoxins derived from plants or bacteria. The well-characterized human serine protease granzyme B has already been used as a therapeutic pro-apoptotic effector domain. We therefore developed a novel recombinant hCFP (GbR201K-scFv1711) consisting of an epidermal growth factor receptor-specific human antibody fragment and a granzyme B point mutant (R201K) that is insensitive to serpin B9 (PI9), a natural inhibitor of wild-type granzyme B that is often expressed in solid tumors. We found that GbR201K-scFv1711 selectively bound to epidermoid cancer and rhabdomyosarcoma cells and was rapidly internalized by them. Nanomolar concentrations of GbR201K-scFv1711 achieved the specific killing of epidermoid cancer cells by inducing apoptosis, and similar effects were observed in rhabdomyosarcoma cells when GbR201K-scFv1711 was combined with the endosomolytic substance chloroquine. The novel hCFP was stable in serum and bound to human rhabdomyosarcoma tissue ex vivo. These data confirm that GbR201K-scFv1711 is a promising therapeutic candidate suitable for further clinical investigation.