Research Papers:

Cancer testis antigen Sperm Protein 17 as a new target for triple negative breast cancer immunotherapy

Leonardo Mirandola, Elisa Pedretti, Jose A. Figueroa, Raffaella Chiaramonte, Michela Colombo, Caroline Chapman, Fabio Grizzi, Federica Patrinicola, W. Martin Kast, Diane D. Nguyen, Rakhshanda Layeequr Rahman, Naval Daver, Peter Ruvolo, Sean M. Post, Robert S. Bresalier and Maurizio Chiriva-Internati _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:74378-74390. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.20102

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Leonardo Mirandola1, Elisa Pedretti1, Jose A. Figueroa1, Raffaella Chiaramonte2, Michela Colombo2, Caroline Chapman3, Fabio Grizzi4, Federica Patrinicola4, W. Martin Kast5, Diane D. Nguyen1, Rakhshanda Layeequr Rahman6, Naval Daver7, Peter Ruvolo7, Sean M. Post7, Robert S. Bresalier8 and Maurizio Chiriva-Internati1,9

1Kiromic Inc., Houston, TX, USA

2Department of Health Sciences, Universita’ degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy

3Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, Eastern Hub Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham University Hospitals, Nottingham, UK

4Department of Immunology & Inflammation, Humanitas Clinical & Research Center, Milan, Italy

5Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

6Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Amarillo Breast Center of Excellence, Amarillo, TX, USA

7Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

8Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Division of Internal Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

9Department of Lymphoma & Myeloma, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

Correspondence to:

Maurizio Chiriva-Internati, email: [email protected]

Keywords: cancer therapy, CTL, biomarker, CTA, breast cancer

Received: June 30, 2016     Accepted: May 31, 2017     Published: August 10, 2017


Breast carcinoma is a major health issue for millions of women. Current therapies have serious side effects, and are only partially effective in patients with metastatic tumors. Thus, the need for novel and less toxic therapies is urgent. Moreover, hormonal and antibody therapies effective in other subtypes are not effective in Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC). Immunotherapeutic strategies directed against specific tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) and mediated by specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) have been largely underexplored in this disease. Cancer-testis antigens (CTA) are a group of TAAs displaying the ideal characteristics of promising vaccine targets, i.e. strong immunogenicity and cancer specificity. The CTA, Sperm Protein 17 (SP17), has been found to be aberrantly expressed in different neoplasms, including ovarian and esophageal cancers, nervous system tumors and multiple myeloma, and has been suggested as a candidate target for immunotherapy.

Here, we evaluated SP17 expression levels in breast cancer cell lines, invasive ductal breast carcinoma, including patients with TNBC, and adjacent non-neoplastic breast tissue, and determined whether SP17 was capable of generating SP17-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes in vitro.

We showed that SP17 is expressed in breast cancer cell lines and primary breast tumors and importantly in TNBC subtype, but not in adjacent non-tumoral breast tissue or unaffected tissues, except in male germinal cells. Furthermore, we detected specific anti-SP17 antibodies in patients’ sera and we generated SP17-specific, HLA class I-restricted, cytotoxic T lymphocytes capable of efficiently killing breast cancer cells.

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