Efficacious immune therapy in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) recognizes antigens that are expressed on CML progenitor cells

Melinda A. Biernacki, Ovidiu Marina, Wandi Zhang, Fenglong Liu, Ingmar Bruns, Ann Cai, Donna Neuberg, Christine M. Canning, Edwin P. Alyea, Robert J. Soiffer, Vladimir Brusic, Jerome Ritz, Catherine J. Wu

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Curative effects of graft-versus-leukemia-based therapies such as donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) may result from immunologic ablation of self-renewing CML progenitor cells. Patients who achieved durable remissions after DLI developed a significant B-cell lymphocytosis after treatment, which did not occur in patients who were unresponsive to DLI. In this study, we identified antigen targets of this B-cell response by probing two immunoproteomic platforms with plasma immunoglobulins from seven CML patients with clinically apparent graft-versus-leukemia responses after DLI. In total, 62 antigens elicited greater reactivity from post-DLI versus pre-DLI plasma. Microarray analysis revealed that >70% of the antigens were expressed in CML CD34+ cells, suggesting that expression in malignant progenitor cells is a feature common to antibody targets of DLI. We confirmed elevated expression of three target antigens (RAB38, TBCE, and DUSP12) in CML that together consistently elicited antibody responses in 18 of 21 of an additional cohort of CML patients with therapeutic responses, but not in normal donors and rarely in non-CML patients. In summary, immunologic targets of curative DLI responses include multiple antigens on CML progenitor cells, identifying them as potential immunogens for vaccination and/or monitoring of immunotherapeutics designed to eliminate myeloid leukemia stem cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)906-915
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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