Monoclonal antibodies against ROR1 induce apoptosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells

Leukemia. 2012 Jun;26(6):1348-55. doi: 10.1038/leu.2011.362. Epub 2012 Jan 6.


ROR1 is a receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) recently identified to be overexpressed at the gene and protein levels in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against RTKs have been successfully applied for therapy of solid tumors. We generated five MAbs against the Ig (n = 1), cysteine-rich (CRD) (n = 2) and kringle (KNG) (n = 2) domains, respectively, of the extracellular part of ROR1. All CLL patients (n = 20) expressed ROR1 on the surface of the leukemic cells. A significantly higher frequency of ROR1 expression was found in patients with progressive versus non-progressive disease, and in those with unmutated versus mutated IgVH genes. All five MAbs alone induced apoptosis in the absence of complement or added effector cells (Annexin-V and MTT, as well as cleavage of poly-(ADP ribose)-polymerase, caspase-8 and caspase-9) of CLL cells but not of normal B cells. Most effective were MAbs against CRD and KNG, significantly superior to rituximab (P < 0.005). Cross-linking of anti-ROR1 MAbs using the F(ab')(2) fragments of anti-Fc antibodies significantly augmented apoptosis. Two of the MAbs induced complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) similar to that of rituximab and one anti-ROR1 MAb (KNG) (IgG1) showed killing activity by antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. The identified ROR1 epitopes may provide a basis for generating human ROR1 MAbs for therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Antibody Formation
  • Antibody-Dependent Cell Cytotoxicity
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / immunology*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / metabolism
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology
  • Receptor Tyrosine Kinase-like Orphan Receptors / immunology*
  • Receptor Tyrosine Kinase-like Orphan Receptors / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Peptide Fragments
  • ROR1 protein, human
  • Receptor Tyrosine Kinase-like Orphan Receptors