Targeted delivery of an ADP-ribosylating bacterial toxin into cancer cells

Zahaf, NI; Lang, AE; Kaiser, L; Fichter, CD; Lassmann, S; McCluskey, A; Augspach, A; Aktories, K; Schmidt, G

Schmidt, G (reprint author), Univ Freiburg, Inst Expt & Clin Pharmacol & Toxicol, Albertstr 25, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.; Schmidt, G (reprint author), Univ Freiburg, Fac Med, Freiburg, Germany.

Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 ( ):


The actin cytoskeleton is an attractive target for bacterial toxins. The ADP-ribosyltransferase TccC3 from the insect bacterial pathogen Photorhabdus luminescence modifies actin to force its aggregation. We intended to transport the catalytic part of this toxin preferentially into cancer cells using a toxin transporter (Protective antigen, PA) which was redirected to Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors (EGFR) or to human EGF receptors 2 (HER2), which are overexpressed in several cancer cells. Protective antigen of anthrax toxin forms a pore through which the two catalytic parts (lethal factor and edema factor) or other proteins can be transported into mammalian cells. Here, we used PA as a double mutant (N682A, D683A; mPA) which cannot bind to the two natural anthrax receptors. Each mutated monomer is fused either to EGF or to an affibody directed against the human EGF receptor 2 (HER2). We established a cellular model system composed of two cell lines representing HER2 overexpressing esophageal adenocarcinomas (EACs) and EGFR overexpressing esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs). We studied the specificity and efficiency of the re-directed anthrax pore for transport of TccC3 toxin and established Photorhabdus luminescence TccC3 as a toxin suitable for the development of a targeted toxin selectively killing cancer cells.

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