The Effect of and Mechanism Underlying Autophagy in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Induced by CH12, a Monoclonal Antibody Directed Against Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Variant III
Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry
Background/Aims: Epidermal growth factor receptor variant III (EGFRvIII), the most frequent EGFR variant, is constitutively activated without binding to EGF and is correlated with a poor prognosis. CH12, a human-mouse chimeric monoclonal antibody, has been developed in our laboratory and selectively binds to overexpressed EGFR and EGFRvIII. A previous study had reported that EGFR could influence autophagic activity, and autophagy is closely related to tumor development and the response to drug
... herapy. In this study, we aimed to elucidate the effect of CH12 on autophagy and efficacy of combining CH12 with an autophagy inhibitor against EGFRvIII-positive tumors. Methods: EGFRvIII was overexpressed in liver cancer, glioblastoma and breast cancer, and the change in the autophagy-relevant protein levels was analyzed by western blot assays, LC3 punctate aggregation was analyzed by immunofluorescence. The interaction of Beclin-1 and Rubicon was assessed by co-immunoprecipitation (Co-IP) after CH12 treatment. The efficacy of ATG7 or Beclin-1 siRNA in combination with CH12 in Huh-7-EGFRvIII cells was assessed by CCK-8 assays. The autophagy and apoptosis signaling events in Huh-7-EGFRvIII cells upon treatment with control, CH12, siRNA or combination for 48 h were assessed by western blot assays. Results: Our results showed that, in cancer cell lines overexpressing EGFRvIII, only the liver cancer cell lines Huh-7 and PLC/PRF/5 suggested autophagy activation. We then investigated the mechanism of autophagy activation after EGFRvIII overexpression. The results showed that EGFRvIII interacted with Rubicon, an autophagy inhibition protein, and released Beclin-1 to form the inducer complex, thus contributing to autophagy. In addition, Xu et al.: The Mechanism Underlying Autophagy in Hcc Induced by CH12 CH12, via inhibiting the phosphorylation of EGFRvIII, promoted the interaction of EGFRvIII with Rubicon, further inducing autophagy. In vitro assays suggested that knocking down the expression of the key proteins ATG7 or Beclin-1 in the autophagy pathway with siRNA inhibits tumor cell proliferation. Combining autophagy-related proteins 7 (ATG7) or Beclin-1 siRNA with CH12 in Huh-7-EGFRvIII cells showed better inhibition of cell proliferation. Conclusion: EGFRvIII could induce autophagy, and CH12 treatment could improve autophagy activity in EGFRvIII-positive liver cancer cells. The combination of CH12 with an autophagy inhibitor or siRNA against key proteins in the autophagy pathway displayed more significant efficacy on EGFRvIII-positive tumor cells than monotherapy, and induced cell apoptosis. Xu et al.: The Mechanism Underlying Autophagy in Hcc Induced by CH12 the combined use of CH12 and the autophagy inhibitor on EGFRvIII-positive hepatocellular carcinoma in vivo remains to be verified in further studies. Abbreviations EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor); Co-IP (co-immunoprecipitation); CMA (chaperone-mediated autophagy); ATG (autophagy-related protein); LAMP (lysosomeassociated membrane protein); RTK (receptor tyrosine kinase); ATCC (American Type Culture Collection); DMEM (Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium); FBS (fetal bovine serum); BSA (bovine serum albumin).