A mechanism of resistance to antibody-targeted immune attack

Dalal S. Aldeghaither, David J. Zahavi, Joseph C. Murray, Elana J. Fertig, Garrett T. Graham, Yong Wei Zhang, Allison O'Connell, Junfeng Ma, Sandra A. Jablonski, Louis M. Weiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Targeted monoclonal antibody therapy is a promising therapeutic strategy for cancer, and antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) represents a crucial mechanism underlying these approaches. The majority of patients have limited responses to monoclonal antibody therapy due to the development of resistance. Models of ADCC provide a system for uncovering immune-resistance mechanisms. We continuously exposed epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR þ ) A431 cells to KIR-deficient NK92-CD16V effector cells and the anti-EGFR cetuximab. Persistent ADCC exposure yielded ADCC-resistant cells (ADCCR1) that, compared with control ADCC-sensitive cells (ADCCS1), exhibited reduced EGFR expression, overexpression of histone- and interferon-related genes, and a failure to activate NK cells, without evidence of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. These properties gradually reversed following withdrawal of ADCC selection pressure. The development of resistance was associated with lower expression of multiple cell-surface molecules that contribute to cell-cell interactions and immune synapse formation. Classic immune checkpoints did not modulate ADCC in this unique model system of immune resistance. We showed that the induction of ADCC resistance involves genetic and epigenetic changes that lead to a general loss of target cell adhesion properties that are required for the establishment of an immune synapse, killer cell activation, and target cell cytotoxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-243
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Immunology Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cancer Research


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