In vivo anti-MUC1+ tumor activity and sequences of high-affinity anti-MUC1-SEA antibodies

Edward Pichinuk, Michael Chalik, Itai Benhar, Ravit Ginat-Koton, Ravit Ziv, Nechama I. Smorodinsky, Gabi Haran, Christian Garbar, Armand Bensussan, Alan Meeker, Thierry Guillaume, Daniel B. Rubinstein, Daniel H. Wreschner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cleavage of the MUC1 glycoprotein yields two subunits, an extracellular alpha-subunit bound to a smaller transmembrane beta-subunit. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) directed against the MUC1 alpha–beta junction comprising the SEA domain, a stable cell-surface moiety, were generated. Sequencing of all seven anti-SEA domain mAbs showed that they clustered into four groups and sequences of all groups are presented here. mAb DMB5F3 with picomolar affinity for the MUC1 SEA target was selected for further evaluation. Immunohistochemical staining of a series of malignancies with DMB5F3 including lung, prostate, breast, colon, and pancreatic carcinomas revealed qualitative and qualitative differences between MUC1 expression on normal versus malignant cells: DMB5F3 strongly stained malignant cells in a near-circumferential pattern, whereas MUC1 in normal pancreatic and breast tissue showed only weak apical positivity of ductal/acinar cells. Humanized chimeric DMB5F3 linked to ZZ-PE38 (ZZ IgG-binding protein fused to Pseudomonas exotoxin) induced vigorous cytotoxicity of MUC1+ malignant cells in vitro. The intensity of cell killing correlated with the level of MUC1 expression by the target cell, suggesting a MUC1 expression threshold for cell killing. MUC1+ Colo357 pancreatic cancer cells xenotransplanted into nude and SCID mice models were treated with the chDMB5F3:ZZ-PE38 immunocomplex. In both transplant models, chDMB5F3:ZZ-PE38 exhibited significant in vivo anti-tumor activity, suppressing up to 90% of tumor volume in the SCID model compared with concomitant controls. The efficacy of chDMB5F3:ZZ-PE38 immunotoxin in mediating tumor killing both in vitro and in vivo strongly suggests a clinical role for anti-MUC1 SEA antibody in the treatment of MUC1-expressing malignancies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1337-1352
Number of pages16
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Anti-MUC1 immunotherapy
  • Antibody–drug conjugation
  • MUC1 expression
  • Tumor antigens


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