Phylogenetic discordance of human and canine carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA, CEACAM) families, but striking identity of the CEA receptors will impact comparative oncology studies

Marlene Weichselbaumer*, Michael Willmann, Martin Reifinger, Josef Singer, Erika Bajna, Yuriy Sobanov, Diana Mechtcherikova, Edgar Selzer, Johann G. Thalhammer, Robert Kammerer, Erika Jensen-Jarolim

*Corresponding author for this work

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

7 Citations (Scopus)


Comparative oncology aims at speeding up developments for both, human and companion animal cancer patients. Following this line, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA, CEACAM5) could be a therapeutic target not only for human but also for canine (Canis lupus familiaris; dog) patients. CEACAM5 interacts with CEA-receptor (CEAR) in the cytoplasm of human cancer cells. Our aim was, therefore, to phylogenetically verify the antigenic relationship of CEACAM molecules and CEAR in human and canine cancer. Anti-human CEACAM5 antibody Col-1, previously being applied for cancer diagnosis in dogs, immunohistochemically reacted to 23 out of 30 canine mammary cancer samples. In immunoblot analyses Col-1 specifically detected human CEACAM5 at 180 kDa in human colon cancer cells HT29, and the canine antigen at 60, 120, or 180 kDa in CF33 and CF41 mammary carcinoma cells as well as in spontaneous mammary tumors. While according to phylogenicity canine CEACAM1 molecules should be most closely related to human CEACAM5, Col-1 did not react with canine CEACAM1, -23, -24, -25, -28 or -30 transfected to canine TLM-1 cells. By flow cytometry the Col-1 target molecule was localized intracellularly in canine CF33 and CF41 cells, in contrast to membranous and cytoplasmic expression of human CEACAM5 in HT29. Col-1 incubation had neither effect on canine nor human cancer cell proliferation. Yet, Col-1 treatment decreased AKT-phosphorylation in canine CF33 cells possibly suggestive of anti-apoptotic function, whereas Col-1 increased AKT-phosphorylation in human HT29 cells. We report further a 99% amino acid similarity of human and canine CEA receptor (CEAR) within the phylogenetic tree. CEAR could be detected in four canine cancer cell lines by immunoblot and intracellularly in 10 out of 10 mammary cancer specimens from dog by immunohistochemistry. Whether the specific canine Col-1 target molecule may as functional analogue to human CEACAM5 act as ligand to canine CEAR, remains to be defined. This study demonstrates the limitations of comparative oncology due to the complex functional evolution of the different CEACAM molecules in humans versus dogs. In contrast, CEAR may be a comprehensive interspecies target for novel cancer therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS Currents
Issue numberNOV
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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