Primary and acquired resistance to anticancer antibody immunotherapies presents significant clinical challenges. Here, we demonstrate that proteolytic inactivation of cancer-targeting antibodies is an unappreciated contributor to cancer immune evasion, and the finding presents novel opportunities for therapeutic intervention. A single peptide bond cleavage in the IgG1 hinge impairs cancer cell killing due to structural derangement of the Fc region. Hinge-cleaved trastuzumab gradually accumulated on the surfaces of HER2-expressing cancer cell lines in vitro, and was greatly accelerated when the cells were engineered to express the potent bacterial IgG-degrading proteinase (IdeS). Similar to cancer-related matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), IdeS exposes a hinge neoepitope that we have developed an antibody, mAb2095-2, to specifically target the epitope. In in vitro studies, mAb2095-2 restored the lost antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity functionality of cell-bound single-cleaved trastuzumab (scIgG-T). In vivo, mAb2095-2 rescued the impaired Fc-dependent tumor-suppressive activity of scIgG-T in a xenograft tumor model and restored the recruitment of immune effector cells into the tumor microenvironment. More importantly, an Fc-engineered proteinase-resistant version of mAb2095-2 rescued trastuzumab antitumor efficacy in a mouse tumor model with human cancer cells secreting IdeS, whereas trastuzumab alone showed significantly reduced antitumor activity in the same model. Consistently, an Fc-engineered proteinase-resistant version of trastuzumab also greatly improved antitumor efficacy in the xenograft tumor model. Taken together, these findings point to a novel cancer therapeutic strategy to rescue proteolytic damage of antibody effector function by an Fc-engineered mAb against the hinge neoepitope and to overcome cancer evasion of antibody immunity. Mol Cancer Ther; 14(3); 1–11. ©2014 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Online (http://mct.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received August 21, 2014.
- Revision received December 11, 2014.
- Accepted December 11, 2014.
- ©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.