Antibody therapy to human L1CAM in a transgenic mouse model blocks local tumor growth but induces EMT

Kai Doberstein, Patrick N. Harter, Uwe Haberkorn, Niko P. Bretz, Bernd Arnold, Rafael Carretero, Gerhard Moldenhauer, Michel Mittelbronn, Peter Altevogt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM) is overexpressed in many human cancers, confers bad prognosis and augments cell motility, invasion and metastasis. Results from xenograft mouse models suggested that L1CAM antibodies might be promising tools for cancer therapy. Here, we generated human L1CAM-transgenic mice to study therapeutic efficacy and putative side effects in a model system. We established three transgenic lines (M2, M3 and F4) expressing the human L1CAM transgene in brain, kidney and colon with decreasing intensity (M2, M3> F4). The expression pattern was similar to that of L1CAM in humans. No interference of the transgene with the expression of endogenous L1CAM was observed. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed correct expression of the transgene in mouse cortex and collective duct of the kidney. Injection of 125Ilabeled L1CAM antibodies resulted in specific enrichment in the kidney but not in the brain. The injection of the therapeutic anti-human L1CAM mAb L1-9.3/2a into transgenic mice even at high doses did not cause behavioral changes or other side effects. Similar results were obtained using a mouse specific L1CAM mAb in normal mice. Tumor therapy experiments were performed using syngeneic mouse tumor cells (RET melanoma and Panc02 pancreatic adenocarcinoma) transduced with human L1CAM. MAb L1-9.3/2a efficiently and specifically attenuated local tumor growth in both model systems without apparent side effects. The therapeutic effect was dependent on immune effector mechanisms. Analysis of Panc02-huL1CAM tumors after therapy showed elevated levels of EGF and evidence of immune-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition. The results suggest that our transgenic mice are valuable tools to study L1CAM-based antibody therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E326-E339
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • EMT
  • Immunotherapy
  • L1CAM
  • Transgenic mice


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