Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy

, Volume 58, Issue 6, pp 915–930 | Cite as

Characterisation of an engineered trastuzumab IgE antibody and effector cell mechanisms targeting HER2/neu-positive tumour cells

  • Panagiotis Karagiannis
  • Josef Singer
  • James Hunt
  • Samuel K. E. Gan
  • Sarah M. Rudman
  • Diana Mechtcheriakova
  • Regina Knittelfelder
  • Tracy R. Daniels
  • Philip S. Hobson
  • Andrew J. Beavil
  • James Spicer
  • Frank O. Nestle
  • Manuel L. Penichet
  • Hannah J. Gould
  • Erika Jensen-Jarolim
  • Sophia N. KaragiannisEmail author
Original Article


Trastuzumab (Herceptin®), a humanized IgG1 antibody raised against the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2/neu), is the main antibody in clinical use against breast cancer. Pre-clinical evidence and clinical studies indicate that trastuzumab employs several anti-tumour mechanisms that most likely contribute to enhanced survival of patients with HER2/neu-positive breast carcinomas. New strategies are aimed at improving antibody-based therapeutics like trastuzumab, e.g. by enhancing antibody-mediated effector function mechanisms. Based on our previous findings that a chimaeric ovarian tumour antigen-specific IgE antibody showed greater efficacy in tumour cell killing, compared to the corresponding IgG1 antibody, we have produced an IgE homologue of trastuzumab. Trastuzumab IgE was engineered with the same light- and heavy-chain variable-regions as trastuzumab, but with an epsilon in place of the gamma-1 heavy-chain constant region. We describe the physical characterisation and ligand binding properties of the trastuzumab IgE and elucidate its potential anti-tumour activities in functional assays. Both trastuzumab and trastuzumab IgE can activate monocytic cells to kill tumour cells, but they operate by different mechanisms: trastuzumab functions in antibody-dependent cell-mediated phagocytosis (ADCP), whereas trastuzumab IgE functions in antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). Trastuzumab IgE, incubated with mast cells and HER2/neu-expressing tumour cells, triggers mast cell degranulation, recruiting against cancer cells a potent immune response, characteristic of allergic reactions. Finally, in viability assays both antibodies mediate comparable levels of tumour cell growth arrest. These functional characteristics of trastuzumab IgE, some distinct from those of trastuzumab, indicate its potential to complement or improve upon the existing clinical benefits of trastuzumab.


HER2/neu Trastuzumab IgE Monocytes Mast cells Tumour immunity 



Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2


Antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity


Antibody-dependent cell-mediated phagocytosis


Folate binding protein


Soluble FcεRI α-chain


HER2 protein extracellular domain


Complete medium


Propidium iodide


Carboxy-fluorescein diacetate, succinimidyl ester




Phosphoinositide 3-kinase


Tumour growth factor α


Vascular endothelial growth factor


Tumour necrosis factor-α


3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium inner salt)


Phenazine methosulfate



This work was generously supported by the the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust/King’s College London, United Kingdom; the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) (P-18238-B13); the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) (fellowship ASTF258.00-2008); Hans und Blanca Moser Stiftung (AP00326OFF), Austria; NIH/NCI R01 supplement CA107023-02S1, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation grant (BCTR0706771) and the 2007–2008 University of California Cancer Research Coordinating Committee seed grant, USA. We thank Dr. Rebecca Beavil, Dr. Pooja Takhar and Mr. Richard Brunner for their helpful comments and Ms. Kate Kirwan for expert assistance with the figures. We are grateful to Dr. Jean-Pierre Kinet and to Dr. Silvana Canevari for the generous provision of advice and materials.

Supplementary material

262_2008_607_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (67 kb)
Amino Acid Sequence of Trastuzumab IgE (PDF 67 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Panagiotis Karagiannis
    • 1
    • 7
  • Josef Singer
    • 7
  • James Hunt
    • 2
  • Samuel K. E. Gan
    • 2
  • Sarah M. Rudman
    • 3
  • Diana Mechtcheriakova
    • 7
  • Regina Knittelfelder
    • 7
  • Tracy R. Daniels
    • 4
  • Philip S. Hobson
    • 2
  • Andrew J. Beavil
    • 2
  • James Spicer
    • 3
  • Frank O. Nestle
    • 1
  • Manuel L. Penichet
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Hannah J. Gould
    • 2
  • Erika Jensen-Jarolim
    • 7
  • Sophia N. Karagiannis
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Cutaneous Medicine and Immunotherapy Unit, St. John’s Institute of Dermatology, Division of Genetics and Molecular MedicineKing’s College London School of MedicineLondonUK
  2. 2.Randall Division of Cell and Molecular BiophysicsKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Academic OncologyKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, David Geffen School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  5. 5.Departments of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, David Geffen School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  6. 6.The Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, David Geffen School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  7. 7.IPP, Department of Pathophysiology, Center of Physiology, Pathophysiology and ImmunologyMedical University ViennaViennaAustria

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