Novel Humanized Mesothelin-Expressing Genetically Engineered Mouse Models Underscore Challenges in Delivery of Complex Therapeutics to Pancreatic Cancers

Mol Cancer Ther. 2021 Oct;20(10):2082-2092. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-21-0017. Epub 2021 Jul 26.

Abstract

Antibody-based therapies designed for human use frequently fail to cross-react with the murine isoform of their target. Because of this problem, preclinical studies of antibody-based mesothelin (Msl)-targeted therapeutics in immunocompetent systems have been limited by the lack of suitable mouse models. Here, we describe two immunocompetent humanized mesothelin transgenic mouse lines that can act as tolerant hosts for C57Bl/6-syngeneic cell lines expressing the human isoform of mesothelin. Thyroid peroxidase (TPO) mice have thyroid-restricted human mesothelin expression. Mesothelin (Msl) mice express human mesothelin in the typical serosal membrane distribution and can additionally be utilized to assess on-target, off-tumor toxicity of human mesothelin-targeted therapeutics. Both transgenic strains shed human mesothelin into the serum like human mesothelioma and patients with ovarian cancer, and serum human mesothelin can be used as a blood-based surrogate of tumor burden. Using these models, we examined the on-target toxicity and antitumor activity of human mesothelin-targeted recombinant immunotoxins. We found that immunotoxin treatment causes acute and chronic histologic changes to serosal membranes in Msl mice, while human mesothelin-expressing thyroid follicular cells in TPO mice are resistant to immunotoxin despite excellent drug delivery. Furthermore, poor delivery of immunotoxin to syngeneic orthotopic human mesothelin-expressing pancreatic adenocarcinoma limits antitumor activity both alone and in combination with immune checkpoint inhibition. In summary, we have developed two high-fidelity, immunocompetent murine models for human cancer that allow for rigorous preclinical evaluation of human mesothelin-targeted therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural