Molecular cancer therapeutics

EpCAM-selective elimination of carcinoma cells by a novel MAP-based cytolytic fusion protein.

PMID 24980949


In normal epithelia, the epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) expression is relatively low and only present at the basolateral cell surface. In contrast, EpCAM is aberrantly overexpressed in various human carcinomas. Therefore, EpCAM is considered to be a highly promising target for antibody-based cancer immunotherapy. Here, we present a new and fully human cytolytic fusion protein (CFP), designated "anti-EpCAM(scFv)-MAP," that is comprised of an EpCAM-specific antibody fragment (scFv) genetically fused to the microtubule-associated protein tau (MAP). Anti-EpCAM(scFv)-MAP shows potent EpCAM-restricted proapoptotic activity toward rapidly proliferating carcinoma cells. In vitro assays confirmed that treatment with anti-EpCAM(scFv)-MAP resulted in the colocalization and stabilization of microtubules, suggesting that this could be the potential mode of action. Dose-finding experiments indicated that anti-EpCAM(scFv)-MAP is well tolerated in mice. Using noninvasive far-red in vivo imaging in a tumor xenograft mouse model, we further demonstrated that anti-EpCAM(scFv)-MAP inhibited tumor growth in vivo. In conclusion, our data suggest that anti-EpCAM(scFv)-MAP may be of therapeutic value for the targeted elimination of EpCAM(+) carcinomas.