Antibody targeting of cell-bound MUC1 SEA domain kills tumor cells

Edward Pichinuk, Itai Benhar, Oded Jacobi, Michael Chalik, Lotem Weiss, Ravit Ziv, Carolyn Sympson, Amolkumar Karwa, Nechama I. Smorodinsky, Daniel B. Rubinstein, Daniel H. Wreschner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The cell-surface glycoprotein MUC1 is a particularly appealing target for antibody targeting, being selectively overexpressed in many types of cancers and a high proportion of cancer stem-like cells. However the occurrence of MUC1 cleavage, which leads to the release of the extracellular α subunit into the circulation where it can sequester many anti-MUC1 antibodies, renders the target problematic to some degree. To address this issue, we generated a set of unique MUC1 monoclonal antibodies that target a region termed the SEA domain that remains tethered to the cell surface after MUC1 cleavage. In breast cancer cell populations, these antibodies bound the cancer cells with high picomolar affinity. Starting with a partially humanized antibody, DMB5F3, we created a recombinant chimeric antibody that bound a panel of MUC1 + cancer cells with higher affinities relative to cetuximab (anti-EGFR1) or tratuzumab (anti-erbB2) control antibodies. DMB5F3 internalization from the cell surface occurred in an efficient temperature-dependent manner. Linkage to toxin rendered these DMB5F3 antibodies to be cytotoxic against MUC1 + cancer cells at low picomolar concentrations. Our findings show that high-affinity antibodies to cell-bound MUC1 SEA domain exert specific cytotoxicity against cancer cells, and they point to the SEA domain as a potential immunogen to generate MUC1 vaccines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3324-3336
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2012


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