Enhanced targeting of triple-negative breast carcinoma and malignant melanoma by photochemical internalization of CSPG4-targeting immunotoxins†
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and malignant melanoma are highly aggressive cancers that widely express the cell surface chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4 (CSPG4/NG2). CSPG4 plays an important role in tumor cell growth and survival and promotes chemo- and radiotherapy resistance, suggesting that CSPG4 is an attractive target in cancer therapy. In the present work, we applied the drug delivery technology photochemical internalization (PCI) in combination with the novel CSPG4-targeting immunotoxin 225.28-saporin as an efficient and specific strategy to kill aggressive TNBC and amelanotic melanoma cells. Light-activation of the clinically relevant photosensitizer TPCS2a (fimaporfin) and 225.28-saporin was found to act in a synergistic manner, and was superior to both PCI of saporin and PCI-no-drug (TPCS2a + light only) in three TNBC cell lines (MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-435 and SUM149) and two BRAFV600E mutated malignant melanoma cell lines (Melmet 1 and Melmet 5). The cytotoxic effect was highly dependent on the light dose and expression of CSPG4 since no enhanced cytotoxicity of PCI of 225.28-saporin compared to PCI of saporin was observed in the CSPG4-negative MCF-7 cells. The PCI of a smaller, and clinically relevant CSPG4-targeting toxin (scFvMEL-rGel) validated the CSPG4-targeting concept in vitro and induced a strong inhibition of tumor growth in the amelanotic melanoma xenograft A-375 model. In conclusion, the combination of the drug delivery technology PCI and CSPG4-targeting immunotoxins is an efficient, specific and light-controlled strategy for the elimination of aggressive cells of TNBC and malignant melanoma origin. This study lays the foundation for further preclinical evaluation of PCI in combination with CSPG4-targeting.