Immunotoxin targeting CD133+ breast carcinoma cells

John R. Ohlfest, David M. Zellmer, Jayanth Panyam, Suresh Kumar Swaminathan, Seunguk Oh, Nate N. Waldron, Shoko Toma, Daniel A. Vallera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


CD133 expression enriches for tumor-initiating cells and is a negative prognostic factor in numerous cancers. We previously developed an immunotoxin against CD133 by fusing a gene fragment encoding the scFv portion of an anti-CD133 antibody to a gene fragment encoding deimmunized PE38KDEL. The resulting fusion protein, dCD133KDEL, demonstrated potent antitumor activity following intratumoral delivery into head neck cell carcinoma xenografts. However, the efficacy against other tumors and the tolerability of systemic administration remained unclear. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the tolerability and efficacy of dCD133KDEL in a systemic human breast carcinoma model. Time course viability studies showed that dCD133KDEL selectively inhibited MDA-MB-231 ductal breast carcinoma cells that contained a minority CD133+ subpopulation, implicating CD133+ cells as a source for self-renewal within this cell line. Furthermore, systemic administration of dCD133KDEL caused regression or inhibition of tumor growth in mice bearing an intrasplenic MDA-MB-231 tumor challenge as a model for metastatic disease. In the same model, combined therapy with dCD133KDEL and another immunotoxin designed to target the bulk tumor mass was the most effective therapy, supporting the idea that such combination therapies might better address tumor heterogeneity. dCD133KDEL shows promise as a therapeutic agent and as a biologic tool to study cancer stem cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-204
Number of pages10
JournalDrug Delivery and Translational Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the support of US Public Health Service Grant Roi-CA36725, the Atwater Fund, the Lion Fund, William Lawrence and Blanche Hughes Fund.


  • Breast cancer
  • CD133
  • Cancer stem cells
  • Immunotoxin
  • Pseudomonas exotoxin
  • Xenograft model


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