CD55 is a protein that protects cells from complement-mediated attack. 791Tgp72 is an antigen which has been used successfully as a target for both tumour imaging and cancer vaccines. 791Tgp72 has recently been identified as CD55. Quantitative expression of CD55 in the tumour environment was therefore studied. Tumour cells showed a 4-100-fold increase in CD55 cell surface expression when compared to normal cells. Immunohistochemical staining of colorectal tumours also revealed high expression of CD55 in the stroma. To examine the source of this stromal CD55 the ability of both epithelial cells and endothelial cells to produce extracellular CD55 was measured. Tumour cell lines deposit CD55 into their extracellular matrix (ECM) in direct proportion to their cell surface expression. In contrast the ECM from HUVEC cells contained large amounts of CD55 despite expressing low levels of CD55 on their cell surface. Furthermore expression of CD55 on HUVEC cells was increased by exposure to VEGF. Although it remains unclear why CD55 is upregulated in the tumour environment its high level of expression on tumour cells and associated endothelium may explain why it is a good target for both imaging and immunotherapy.
Copyright 2001 Cancer Research Campaign.