Pancreatic cancer is a highly aggressive, treatment refractory cancer and is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. In humans, 90% of pancreatic adenocarcinomas overexpress altered forms of a tumor-specific Ag, mucin 1 (MUC1; an epithelial mucin glycoprotein), which is a potential target for immunotherapy. We have established a clinically relevant animal model for pancreatic cancer by developing a double transgenic mouse model (called MET) that expresses human MUC1 as self molecule and develops spontaneous tumors of the pancreas. These mice exhibit acinar cell dysplasia at birth, which progresses to microadenomas and acinar cell carcinomas. The tumors express large amounts of underglycosylated MUC1 similar to humans. Tumor-bearing MET mice develop low affinity MUC1-specific CTLs that have no effect on the spontaneously occurring pancreatic tumors in vivo. However, adoptive transfer of these CTLs was able to completely eradicate MUC1-expressing injectable tumors in MUC1 transgenic mice, and these mice developed long-term immunity. These CTLs were MHC class I restricted and recognized peptide epitopes in the immunodominant tandem repeat region of MUC1. The MET mice appropriately mimic the human condition and are an excellent model with which to elucidate the native immune responses that develop during tumor progression and to develop effective antitumor vaccine strategies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy