Epitope-targeted cytotoxic T cells mediate lineage-specific antitumor efficacy induced by the cancer mucosa antigen GUCY2C

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2012 May;61(5):713-23. doi: 10.1007/s00262-011-1133-0. Epub 2011 Nov 6.


Guanylyl cyclase C (GUCY2C) is the index cancer mucosa antigen, an emerging class of immunotherapeutic targets for the prevention of recurrent metastases originating in visceral epithelia. GUCY2C is an autoantigen principally expressed by intestinal epithelium, and universally by primary and metastatic colorectal tumors. Immunization with adenovirus expressing the structurally unique GUCY2C extracellular domain (GUCY2C(ECD); Ad5-GUCY2C) produces prophylactic and therapeutic protection against GUCY2C-expressing colon cancer metastases in mice, without collateral autoimmunity. GUCY2C antitumor efficacy is mediated by a unique immunological mechanism involving lineage-specific induction of antigen-targeted CD8(+) T cells, without CD4(+) T cells or B cells. Here, the unusual lineage specificity of this response was explored by integrating high-throughput peptide screening and bioinformatics, revealing the role for GUCY2C-directed CD8(+) T cells targeting specific epitopes in antitumor efficacy. In BALB/c mice vaccinated with Ad5-GUCY2C, CD8(+) T cells recognize the dominant GUCY2C(254-262) epitope in the context of H-2K(d), driving critical effector functions including interferon gamma secretion, cytolysis ex vivo and in vivo, and antitumor efficacy. The ability of GUCY2C to induce lineage-specific responses targeted to cytotoxic CD8(+) T cells recognizing a single epitope mediating antitumor efficacy without autoimmunity highlights the immediate translational potential of cancer mucosa antigen-based vaccines for preventing metastases of mucosa-derived cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / immunology
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines / pharmacology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mucous Membrane / immunology
  • Receptors, Enterotoxin
  • Receptors, Guanylate Cyclase-Coupled / immunology*
  • Receptors, Peptide / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Autoantigens
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Receptors, Peptide
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Gucy2c protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Enterotoxin
  • Receptors, Guanylate Cyclase-Coupled