Tumor progression is governed by various growth factors and cytokines in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Among these, transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) is secreted by various cell types residing in the TME and promotes tumor progression by inducing the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of cancer cells and tumor angiogenesis. TGF-β comprises three isoforms, TGF-β1, -β2, and -β3, and transduces intracellular signals via TGF-β type I receptor (TβRI) and TGF-β type II receptor (TβRII). For the purpose of designing ligand traps that reduce oncogenic signaling in the TME, chimeric proteins comprising the ligand-interacting ectodomains of receptors fused with the Fc portion of immunoglobulin are often used. For example, chimeric soluble TβRII (TβRII-Fc) has been developed as an effective therapeutic strategy for targeting TGF-β ligands, but several lines of evidence indicate that TβRII-Fc more effectively traps TGF-β1 and TGF-β3 than TGF-β2, whose expression is elevated in multiple cancer types. In the present study, we developed a chimeric TGF-β receptor containing both TβRI and TβRII (TβRI-TβRII-Fc) and found that TβRI-TβRII-Fc trapped all TGF-β isoforms, leading to inhibition of both the TGF-β signal and TGF-β-induced EMT of oral cancer cells, whereas TβRII-Fc failed to trap TGF-β2. Furthermore, we found that TβRI-TβRII-Fc suppresses tumor growth and angiogenesis more effectively than TβRII-Fc in a subcutaneous xenograft model of oral cancer cells with high TGF-β expression. These results suggest that TβRI-TβRII-Fc may be a promising tool for targeting all TGF-β isoforms in the TME.
Keywords: Fc chimeric receptor; Fc receptor; angiogenesis; cancer therapy; epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT); ligand trap; oral squamous cell cancer; transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β); tumor microenvironment.
© 2020 Takahashi et al.