Research Papers:

Photochemical activation of MH3-B1/rGel: a HER2-targeted treatment approach for ovarian cancer

Bente Bull-Hansen, Maria B. Berstad, Kristian Berg, Yu Cao, Ellen Skarpen, Ane Sofie Fremstedal, Michael G. Rosenblum, Qian Peng and Anette Weyergang _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:12436-12451. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3814

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Bente Bull-Hansen1, Maria B. Berstad1, Kristian Berg1, Yu Cao2,5, Ellen Skarpen3, Ane Sofie Fremstedal1, Michael G. Rosenblum2, Qian Peng4 and Anette Weyergang1

1 Department of Radiation Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

2 Immunopharmacology and Targeted Therapy Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

3 Department of Biochemistry, Institute for Cancer Research, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

4 Department of Pathology, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

5 Current address: The Scripps Research Institute, Department of Chemistry, La Jolla, CA, USA

Correspondence to:

Anette Weyergang, email:

Keywords: ovarian cancer, HER2/neu/ErbB2, immunotoxin, photochemical internalization, photodynamic

Received: October 13, 2014 Accepted: March 11, 2015 Published: April 14, 2015


HER2-targeted therapy has been shown to have limited efficacy in ovarian cancer despite frequent overexpression of this receptor. Photochemical internalization (PCI) is a modality for cytosolic drug delivery, currently undergoing clinical evaluation. In the present project we studied the application of PCI in combination with the HER2-targeted recombinant fusion toxin, MH3-B1/rGel, for the treatment of ovarian cancer. The SKOV-3 cell line, resistant to trastuzumab- and MH3-B1/rGel- monotherapy, was shown to respond strongly to PCI of MH3-B1/rGel to a similar extent as observed for the treatment-sensitive SK-BR-3 breast cancer cells. Extensive hydrolytic degradation of MH3-B1/rGel in acidic endocytic vesicles was indicated as the mechanism of MH3-B1/rGel resistance in SKOV-3 cells. This was shown by the positive Pearson’s correlation coefficient between Alexa488-labeled MH3-B1/rGel and Lysotracker in SKOV-3 cells in contrast to the negative Pearson’s correlation coefficient in SK-BR-3 cells. The application of PCI to induce the release of MH3-B1/rGel was also demonstrated to be effective on SKOV-3 xenografts. Application of PCI with MH3-B1/rGel was further found highly effective in the HER2 expressing HOC-7 and NuTu-19 ovarian cancer cell lines. The presented results warrant future development of PCI in combination with MH3-B1/rGel as a novel therapeutic approach in preclinical models of ovarian cancer.

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