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Mapping Tumor Epitope Space by Direct Selection of Single-Chain Fv Antibody Libraries on Prostate Cancer Cells


The identification of tumor-specific cell surface antigens is a critical step toward the development of targeted therapeutics for cancer. The epitope space at the tumor cell surface is highly complex, composed of proteins, carbohydrates, and other membrane-associated determinants including post-translational modification products, which are difficult to probe by approaches based on gene expression. This epitope space can be efficiently mapped by complementary monoclonal antibodies. By selecting human antibody gene diversity libraries directly on the surface of prostate cancer cells, we have taken a functional approach to identifying fully human, tumor-specific monoclonal antibodies without prior knowledge of their target antigens. Selection conditions have been optimized to favor tumor-specific antibody binding and internalization. To date, we have discovered >90 monoclonal antibodies that specifically bind and enter prostate cancer cells, with little or no binding to control cells. These antibodies are able to efficiently deliver intracellular payloads when attached to nanoparticles such as liposomes. In addition, a subset of the antibodies displayed intrinsic antiproliferative activity. These tumor-specific internalizing antibodies are likely to be useful for targeted therapeutics either alone or in combination with effector molecules. The antigens they bind constitute a tumor-specific internalizing epitope space that is likely to play a significant role in cancer cell homeostasis. Targeting components of this epitope space may facilitate development of immunotherapeutic and small molecule-based strategies as well as the use of other therapeutic agents that rely upon delivery to the interior of the tumor cell.

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