Targeting p62 as a Cancer Therapy

Effective development of treatments for cancer will involve finding actionable commonalities that exist in as many cancers as possible. Focusing on targets that only exist in a few cancers will necessarily be a much longer and more expensive process. Here researchers demonstrate the ability to direct the immune system to attack cancer cells expressing the protein p62 / sequestosome 1:

Autophagy plays an important role in neoplastic transformation of cells and in resistance of cancer cells to radio- and chemotherapy. p62 (SQSTM1) is a key component of autophagic machinery which is also involved in signal transduction. Although recent empirical observations demonstrated that p62 is overexpressed in variety of human tumors, a mechanism of p62 overexpression is not known. Here we report that the transformation of normal human mammary epithelial cells with diverse oncogenes (RAS, PIK3CA and Her2) causes marked accumulation of p62.

Based on this result, we hypothesized that p62 may be a feasible candidate to be an anti-cancer DNA vaccine. Here we performed a preclinical study of a novel DNA vaccine encoding p62. Intramuscularly administered p62-encoding plasmid induced anti-p62 antibodies and exhibited strong antitumor activity in four models of allogeneic mouse tumors - B16 melanoma, Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC), S37 sarcoma, and Ca755 breast carcinoma.

In mice challenged with Ca755 cells, p62 treatment had dual effect: inhibited tumor growth in some mice and prolonged life in those mice which developed tumor size similar to control. P62-encoding plasmid has demonstrated its potency both as a preventive and therapeutic vaccine. Importantly, p62 vaccination drastically suppressed metastasis formation: in B16 melanoma where tumor cells were injected intravenously, and in LLC and S37 sarcoma with spontaneous metastasis. Overall, we conclude that a p62-encoding vector(s) constitute(s) a novel, effective broad-spectrum antitumor and anti-metastatic vaccine feasible for further development and clinical trials.



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