Targeting the Intracellular WT1 Oncogene Product With a Therapeutic Human Antibody

Sci Transl Med. 2013 Mar 13;5(176):176ra33. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3005661.


The Wilms tumor 1 (WT1) oncoprotein is an intracellular, oncogenic transcription factor that is overexpressed in a wide range of leukemias and solid cancers. RMFPNAPYL (RMF), a WT1-derived CD8+ T cell human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A0201 epitope, is a validated target for T cell-based immunotherapy. Using phage display technology, we discovered a fully human "T cell receptor-like" monoclonal antibody (mAb), ESK1, specific for the WT1 RMF peptide/HLA-A0201 complex. ESK1 bound to several leukemia and solid tumor cell lines and primary leukemia cells, in a WT1- and HLA-A0201-restricted manner, with high avidity [dissociation constant (Kd)=0.1 nM]. ESK1 mediated antibody-dependent human effector cell cytotoxicity in vitro. Low doses of naked ESK1 antibody cleared established, disseminated, human acute lymphocytic leukemia and Philadelphia chromosome-positive leukemia in nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficient γc-/- (NSG) mouse models. At therapeutic doses, no toxicity was seen in HLA-A0201 transgenic mice. ESK1 is a potential therapeutic agent for a wide range of cancers overexpressing the WT1 oncoprotein. This finding also provides preclinical validation for the strategy of developing therapeutic mAbs targeting intracellular oncogenic proteins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / immunology
  • Leukemia / therapy
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • Wilms Tumor / immunology
  • Wilms Tumor / therapy*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Epitopes
  • Oncogene Proteins