URL with Digital Object Identifier
Superantigens (SAgs) are microbial toxins that cross-link T cell receptors with major histocompatibility class II (MHC-II) molecules leading to the activation of large numbers of T cells. Herein, we describe the development and preclinical testing of a novel tumor-targeted SAg (TTS) therapeutic built using the streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin C (SpeC) SAg and targeting cancer cells expressing the 5T4 tumor-associated antigen (TAA). To inhibit potentially harmful widespread immune cell activation, a SpeC mutation within the high-affinity MHC-II binding interface was generated (SpeCD203A) that demonstrated a pronounced reduction in mitogenic activity, yet this mutant could still induce immune cell-mediated cancer cell death in vitro. To target 5T4+ cancer cells, we engineered a humanized single chain variable fragment (scFv) antibody to recognize 5T4 (scFv5T4). Specific targeting of scFv5T4 was verified. SpeCD203A fused to scFv5T4 maintained the ability to activate and induce immune cell-mediated cytotoxicity of colorectal cancer cells. Using a xenograft model of established human colon cancer, we demonstrated that the SpeC-based TTS was able to control the growth and spread of large tumors in vivo. This required both TAA targeting by scFv5T4 and functional SAg activity. These studies lay the foundation for the development of streptococcal SAgs as 'next-generation' TTSs for cancer immunotherapy. © 2014 Patterson et al.