The ability of NK cells to mediate Ab-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) largely contributes to the clinical success of antitumor Abs, including trastuzumab, which is approved for the treatment of breast cancer with HER2/neu overexpression. Notably, only approximately 25% of breast cancer patients overexpress HER2/neu. Moreover, HER2/neu is expressed on healthy cells, and trastuzumab application is associated with side effects. In contrast, the ligands of the activating immunoreceptor NKG2D (NKG2DL) are selectively expressed on malignant cells. In this study, we took advantage of the tumor-associated expression of NKG2DL by using them as target Ags for NKG2D-IgG1 fusion proteins optimized by amino acid exchange S239D/I332E in their Fc part. Compared to constructs with wild-type Fc parts, fusion proteins carrying the S239D/I332E modification (NKG2D-Fc-ADCC) mediated highly enhanced degranulation, ADCC, and IFN-gamma production of NK cells in response to breast cancer cells. NKG2D-Fc-ADCC substantially enhanced NK reactivity also against HER2/neu-low targets that were unaffected by trastuzumab, as both compounds mediated their immunostimulatory effects in strict dependence of target Ag expression levels. Thus, in line with the hierarchically organized potential of the various activating receptors governing NK reactivity and due to its highly increased affinity to CD16, NKG2D-Fc-ADCC potently enhances NK cell reactivity despite the inevitable reduction of activating signals upon binding to NKG2DL. Due to the tumor-restricted expression of NKG2DL, NKG2D-Fc-ADCC may constitute an attractive means for immunotherapy especially of HER2/neu-low or -negative breast cancer.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published