NKG2D, an activating receptor expressed on NK cells and T cells, is critically involved in tumor immunosurveillance. In this study, we explored the potential therapeutic utility of the NKG2D ligand ULBP2 for the treatment of colon carcinoma. To this end we designed a fusion protein consisting of human ULBP2 and an antibody-derived single chain targeting the tumor carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). The bispecific recombinant fusion protein re-directed NK cells towards malignant cells by binding to both, tumor cells and NK cells, and triggered NK cell-mediated target cell killing in vitro. Moreover, tumor growth was significantly delayed in a syngeneic colon carcinoma mouse model in response to immunoligand treatment. The anti-tumor activity could be attributed to the stimulation of immune cells with an elevated expression of the activation marker CD69 on NK, T and NKT cells and the infiltration of CD45+ immune cells into the solid tumor. In summary, it was demonstrated that immunoligands provide specific tumor targeting by NK cells and exert anti-tumor activity in vitro and in vivo. This technology represents a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for solid tumors with the potential to be further developed for clinical applications.
Keywords: NK cells; NKG2D; colon carcinoma; immunotherapy.
© 2013 UICC.