mAb 84, a cytotoxic antibody that kills undifferentiated human embryonic stem cells via oncosis

Stem Cells. 2009 Aug;27(8):1792-801. doi: 10.1002/stem.109.


The monoclonal antibody mAb 84, which binds to podocalyxin-like protein-1 (PODXL) on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), was previously reported to bind and kill undifferentiated cells in in vitro and in vivo assays. In this study, we investigate the mechanism responsible for mAb 84-induced hESCs cytotoxicity. Apoptosis was likely not the cause of mAb 84-mediated cell death because no elevation of caspase activities or increased DNA fragmentation was observed in hESCs following incubation with mAb 84. Instead, it was preceded by cell aggregation and damage to cell membranes, resulting in the uptake of propidium iodide, and the leakage of intracellular sodium ions. Furthermore, examination of the cell surface by scanning electron microscopy revealed the presence of pores on the cell surface of mAb 84-treated cells, which was absent from the isotype control. This mechanism of cell death resembles that described for oncosis, a form of cell death resulting from membrane damage. Additional data suggest that the binding of mAb 84 to hESCs initiates a sequence of events prior to membrane damage, consistent with oncosis. Degradation of actin-associated proteins, namely, alpha-actinin, paxillin, and talin, was observed. The perturbation of these actin-associated proteins consequently permits the aggregation of PODXL, thus leading to the formation of pores. To our knowledge, this is the first report of oncotic cell death with hESCs as a model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actinin / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / metabolism
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Cell Aggregation / drug effects
  • Cell Aggregation / immunology
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Death / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / immunology
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / analysis
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Paxillin / metabolism
  • Sialoglycoproteins / metabolism
  • Talin / metabolism
  • Teratoma / immunology
  • Teratoma / prevention & control
  • Vinculin / metabolism


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Paxillin
  • Sialoglycoproteins
  • Talin
  • podocalyxin
  • Actinin
  • Vinculin