Characterisation of an engineered trastuzumab IgE antibody and effector cell mechanisms targeting HER2/neu-positive tumour cells

Panagiotis Karagiannis, Josef Singer, James Hunt, Samuel K.E. Gan, Sarah M. Rudman, Diana Mechtcheriakova, Regina Knittelfelder, Tracy R. Daniels, Philip S. Hobson, Andrew J. Beavil, James Spicer, Frank O. Nestle, Manuel L. Penichet, Hannah J. Gould, Erika Jensen-Jarolim, Sophia N. Karagiannis

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

90 Citations (Scopus)


Trastuzumab (Herceptin®), a humanized IgG1 antibody raised against the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2/neu), is the main antibody in clinical use against breast cancer. Pre-clinical evidence and clinical studies indicate that trastuzumab employs several anti-tumour mechanisms that most likely contribute to enhanced survival of patients with HER2/neu-positive breast carcinomas. New strategies are aimed at improving antibody-based therapeutics like trastuzumab, e.g. by enhancing antibody-mediated effector function mechanisms. Based on our previous findings that a chimaeric ovarian tumour antigen-specific IgE antibody showed greater efficacy in tumour cell killing, compared to the corresponding IgG1 antibody, we have produced an IgE homologue of trastuzumab. Trastuzumab IgE was engineered with the same light- and heavy-chain variable-regions as trastuzumab, but with an epsilon in place of the gamma-1 heavy-chain constant region. We describe the physical characterisation and ligand binding properties of the trastuzumab IgE and elucidate its potential anti-tumour activities in functional assays. Both trastuzumab and trastuzumab IgE can activate monocytic cells to kill tumour cells, but they operate by different mechanisms: trastuzumab functions in antibody-dependent cell-mediated phagocytosis (ADCP), whereas trastuzumab IgE functions in antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). Trastuzumab IgE, incubated with mast cells and HER2/neu-expressing tumour cells, triggers mast cell degranulation, recruiting against cancer cells a potent immune response, characteristic of allergic reactions. Finally, in viability assays both antibodies mediate comparable levels of tumour cell growth arrest. These functional characteristics of trastuzumab IgE, some distinct from those of trastuzumab, indicate its potential to complement or improve upon the existing clinical benefits of trastuzumab.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-930
Number of pages16
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • HER2/neu
  • IgE
  • Mast cells
  • Monocytes
  • Trastuzumab
  • Tumour immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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