Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 147, Issue 1, pp 69–80 | Cite as

Vaccination with ErbB-2 peptides prevents cancer stem cell expansion and suppresses the development of spontaneous tumors in MMTV-PyMT transgenic mice

  • Eun-Young Gil
  • Uk-Hyun Jo
  • Hye Jin Lee
  • Jinho Kang
  • Jae Hong Seo
  • Eun Sook Lee
  • Yeul Hong Kim
  • InSun Kim
  • Vy Phan-Lai
  • Mary L. Disis
  • Kyong Hwa ParkEmail author
Preclinical study


ErbB-2 has been implicated as a target for cancer-initiating cells in breast and other cancers. ErbB-2-directed peptide vaccines have been shown to be effective in prevention of spontaneous tumorigenesis of breast in neu transgenic mouse model, and cellular immunity is proposed as a mechanism for the anti-tumor efficacy. However, there has been no explanation as to how immunity suppresses tumorigenesis from the early stage carcinogenesis, when ErbB-2 expression in breast is low. Here, we investigated a peptide-based vaccine, which consists of two MHC class II epitopes derived from murine ErbB-2, to prevent the occurrence of spontaneous tumors in breast and assess immune impact on breast cancer stem cells. Female MMTV-PyMT transgenic mice were immunized with either ErbB-2 peptide vaccine, or a peptide from tetanus toxoid, or PBS in immune adjuvant. ErbB-2 peptides vaccine completely suppressed spontaneous breast tumors, and the efficacy was correlated with antigen-specific T-cell and antibody responses. In addition, immune serum from the mice of ErbB-2 vaccine group had an inhibitory effect on mammosphere-forming capacity and signaling through ErbB-2 and downstream Akt pathway in ErbB-2 overexpressing mouse mammary cancer cells. We provide evidence that multi-epitope class II peptides vaccine suppresses tumorigenesis of breast potentially by inhibiting the growth of cancer stem cells. We also suggest that a strategy of inducing strong immune responses using multi-epitope ErbB-2-directed helper vaccine might be useful in preventing breast cancer recurrence.


Breast cancer ErbB-2 Peptide vaccine Cancer stem cell Spontaneous tumor 



This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (No. 2009-0068859). MLD is supported by the Athena Distinguished Professor of Breast Cancer Research.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eun-Young Gil
    • 1
  • Uk-Hyun Jo
    • 1
  • Hye Jin Lee
    • 1
  • Jinho Kang
    • 1
  • Jae Hong Seo
    • 1
  • Eun Sook Lee
    • 3
  • Yeul Hong Kim
    • 1
  • InSun Kim
    • 2
  • Vy Phan-Lai
    • 4
  • Mary L. Disis
    • 5
  • Kyong Hwa Park
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Oncology/Hematology, Departments of Internal Medicine, Korea University Anam HospitalKorea University College of MedicineSeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Departments of Pathology, College of MedicineKorea UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Research Institute and HospitalNational Cancer CenterGoyangKorea
  4. 4.Center for Global Mentoring, UCLA-DOE InstituteUniversity of California Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  5. 5.Tumor Vaccine GroupUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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