Antitumor response elicited by a superantigentransmembrane sequence fusion protein anchored onto tumor cells

Jennifer L. Wahlsten, Charles D. Mills, S. Ramakrishnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Superantigens stimulate T cells bearing certain TCR β-chain variable regions when bound to MHC II molecules. We investigated whether the superantigen toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 (TSST1) could induce an antitumor immune response when anchored onto MHC II-negative tumor cells. Our approach was to facilitate association of TSST1 with cell membranes by fusing its coding region to the transmembrane region (TM) sequence of the proto-oncogene c-erb-B-2. TSST1-TM was expressed in bacteria with an N-terminal histidine tag and purified using nickel-agarose affinity chromatography. Purified TSST1-TM added to cultures of several different MHC II-negative tumor cells spontaneously associated with cell membranes, as detected by flow cytometry. Because superantigens can direct cell-mediated cytotoxicity against MHC II- positive cells, a TM fusion protein lacking the TSST1 MHC II binding domain (TSST88-194-TM) was also constructed. Tumor cells precoated with TSST1- TM or TSST88-194-TM stimulated proliferation of human peripheral blood lymphocytes in vitro whereas uncoated tumor cells did not. Mice preimmunized with TSST1-TM- or TSST88-194-TM-coated tumor cells mounted a systemic response that resulted in significant antitumor immunity as measured by regression of a parental tumor challenge. TSST1-TM and TSST88-194-TM fusion proteins represent a useful new strategy for attaching superantigens or potentially other proteins onto tumor cell surfaces without genetic manipulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6761-6767
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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