Gianfranco Picco

Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Are you Gianfranco Picco?

Claim your profile

Publications (13)67.51 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Dendritic cells (DCs) are the most potent antigen presenting cells and they are the focus of many immunotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of cancer, although most of these approaches require the ex vivo generation and pulsing of DCs. We have targeted a subset of DCs in vivo by the use of an antibody to DNGR-1, a C-type lectin dedicated to the cross-presentation of antigen expressed by subsets of DCs. HLA-A2 epitopes from the tumour-associated antigen, MUC1, were coupled to the anti-DNGR-1 antibody and their efficacy in generating a Th1-cell response and inhibiting tumour growth were evaluated in a clinically relevant double transgenic mouse model expressing human MUC1 and A2K/b. Using this strategy we demonstrate that an effective immune response to MUC1 can be generated that results in a significant delay in the growth of MUC1-expressing tumours in both prophylactic and therapeutic settings. In addition we also show, using PBMCs isolated from healthy volunteer blood, that targeting a MUC1 HLA-A2 epitope to human DNGR-1 in vitro can induce a MUC1-specific CD8(+) T-cell response, thus confirming the relevance of our in vivo murine results to the human setting. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    European Journal of Immunology 03/2014; · 4.97 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The glycome acts as an essential interface between cells and the surrounding microenvironment. However, changes in glycosylation occur in nearly all breast cancers, which can alter this interaction. Here, we report that profiles of glycosylation vary between ER-positive and ER-negative breast cancers. We found that genes involved in the synthesis of sialyl-Lewis x (sLe(x); FUT3, FUT4, and ST3GAL6) are significantly increased in estrogen receptor alpha-negative (ER-negative) tumors compared with ER-positive ones. SLe(x) expression had no influence on the survival of patients whether they had ER-negative or ER-positive tumors. However, high expression of sLe(x) in ER-positive tumors was correlated with metastasis to the bone where sLe(x) receptor E-selectin is constitutively expressed. The ER-positive ZR-75-1 and the ER-negative BT20 cell lines both express sLe(x) but only ZR-75-1 cells could adhere to activated endothelial cells under dynamic flow conditions in a sLe(x) and E-selectin-dependent manner. Moreover, L/P-selectins bound strongly to ER-negative MDA-MB-231 and BT-20 cell lines in a heparan sulfate (HS)-dependent manner that was independent of sLe(x) expression. Expression of glycosylation genes involved in heparan biosynthesis (EXT1 and HS3ST1) was increased in ER-negative tumors. Taken together, our results suggest that the context of sLe(x) expression is important in determining its functional significance and that selectins may promote metastasis in breast cancer through protein-associated sLe(x) and HS glycosaminoglycans.
    Cancer Research 12/2011; 71(24):7683-93. · 9.28 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mucin glycoproteins are major secreted or membrane-bound molecules that, in cancer, show modifications in both the mucin proteins expression and in the O-glycosylation profile, generating some of the most relevant tumour markers in clinical use for decades. Thus far, the identification of these biomarkers has been based on the detection of either the protein or the O-glycan modifications. We therefore aimed to identify the combined mucin and O-glycan features, that is, specific glycoforms, in an attempt to increase specificity of these cancer biomarkers. Using in situ proximity ligation assays (PLA) based on existing monoclonal antibodies directed to MUC1, MUC2, MUC5AC and MUC6 mucins and to cancer-associated carbohydrate antigens Tn, Sialyl-Tn (STn), T, Sialyl-Le(a) (SLe(a)) and Sialyl-Le(x) (SLe(x)) we screened a series of 28 mucinous adenocarcinomas from different locations (stomach, ampulla of Vater, colon, lung, breast and ovary) to detect specific mucin glycoforms. We detected Tn/STn/SLe(a)/SLe(x)-MUC1 and STn/SLe(a)/SLe(x)-MUC2 glycoforms in ≥50% of the cases, with a variable distribution among organs. Some new glycoforms-T/SLe(a)-MUC2, STn/T/SLe(a) SLe(x)-MUC5AC and STn/T/SLe(a)/SLe(x)-MUC6-were identified for the first time in the present study in a variable percentage of cases from different organs. In conclusion, application of the PLA technique allowed sensitive detection of specific aberrant mucin glycoforms in cancer, increasing specificity to the use of antibodies either to the mucin protein backbone or to the O-glycan haptens alone.
    Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine 08/2011; 16(7):1474-84. · 4.75 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Changes in glycosylation are common in malignancy, and as almost all surface proteins are glycosylated, this can dramatically affect the behavior of tumor cells. In breast carcinomas, the O-linked glycans are frequently truncated, often as a result of premature sialylation. The sialyltransferase ST3Gal-I adds sialic acid to the galactose residue of core 1 (Galbeta1,3GalNAc) O-glycans and this enzyme is over-expressed in breast cancer resulting in the expression of sialylated core 1 glycans. In order to study the role of ST3Gal-I in mammary tumor development, we developed transgenic mice that over-express the sialyltransferase under the control of the human membrane-bound mucin 1 promoter. These mice were then crossed with PyMT mice that spontaneously develop mammary tumors. As expected, ST3Gal-I transgenic mice showed increased activity and expression of the enzyme in the pregnant and lactating mammary glands, the stomach, lungs and intestine. Although no obvious defects were observed in the fully developed mammary gland, when these mice were crossed with PyMT mice, a highly significant decrease in tumor latency was observed compared to the PyMT mice on an identical background. These results indicate that ST3Gal-I is acting as a tumor promoter in this model of breast cancer. This, we believe, is the first demonstration that over-expression of a glycosyltransferase involved in mucin-type O-linked glycosylation can promote tumorigenesis.
    Glycobiology 10/2010; 20(10):1241-50. · 3.54 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Changes in the composition of glycans added to glycoproteins and glycolipids are characteristic of the change to malignancy. Sialyl-Tn (STn) is expressed by 25-30% of breast carcinomas but its expression on normal tissue is highly restricted. Sialyl-Tn is an O-linked disaccharide that can be carried on various glycoproteins. One such glycoprotein MUC1 is expressed by the vast majority of breast carcinomas. Both STn and MUC1 have been considered as targets for immunotherapy of breast cancer patients. Here we used different immunogens to target STn in an MUC1 transgenic mouse model of tumour challenge. We show that synthetic STn coupled to keyhole limpet haemocyanin (Theratope), induced antibodies to STn that recognised the glycan carried on a number of glycoproteins and in these mice a significant delay in tumour growth was observed. The protection was dependent on STn being expressed by the tumour and was antibody mediated. Affinity chromatography of the STn-expressing tumour cell line, followed by mass spectrometry, identified osteopontin as a novel STn-carrying glycoprotein which was highly expressed by the tumours. These results suggest that if antibodies can be induced to a number of targets expressed by the tumour cells, a humoral response can be effective in controlling tumour growth.
    British Journal of Cancer 06/2009; 100(11):1746-54. · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: MUC1 is a highly attractive immunotherapeutic target owing to increased expression, altered glycosylation, and loss of polarity in >80% of human cancers. To exploit this, we have constructed a panel of chimeric Ag receptors (CAR) that bind selectively to tumor-associated MUC1. Two parameters proved crucial in optimizing the CAR ectodomain. First, we observed that the binding of CAR-grafted T cells to anchored MUC1 is subject to steric hindrance, independent of glycosylation status. This was overcome by insertion of the flexible and elongated hinge found in immunoglobulins of the IgD isotype. Second, CAR function was highly dependent upon strong binding capacity across a broad range of tumor-associated MUC1 glycoforms. This was realized by using an Ab-derived single-chain variable fragment (scFv) cloned from the HMFG2 hybridoma. To optimize CAR signaling, tripartite endodomains were constructed. Ultimately, this iterative design process yielded a potent receptor termed HOX that contains a fused CD28/OX40/CD3zeta endodomain. HOX-expressing T cells proliferate vigorously upon repeated encounter with soluble or membrane-associated MUC1, mediate production of proinflammatory cytokines (IFN-gamma and IL-17), and elicit brisk killing of MUC1(+) tumor cells. To test function in vivo, a tumor xenograft model was derived using MDA-MB-435 cells engineered to coexpress MUC1 and luciferase. Mice bearing an established tumor were treated i.p. with a single dose of engineered T cells. Compared with control mice, this treatment resulted in a significant delay in tumor growth as measured by serial bioluminescence imaging. Together, these data demonstrate for the first time that the near-ubiquitous MUC1 tumor Ag can be targeted using CAR-grafted T cells.
    The Journal of Immunology 04/2008; 180(7):4901-9. · 5.52 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Dendritic cells (DCs) 'pulsed' with an appropriate antigen may elicit an antitumour immune response in mouse models. However, while attempting to develop a DC immunotherapy protocol for the treatment of breast cancer based on the tumour-associated MUC1 glycoforms, we found that unpulsed DCs can affect tumour growth. Protection from RMA-MUC1 tumour challenge was achieved in C57Bl/6 MUC1 transgenic mice by immunising with syngeneic DCs pulsed with a MUC1 peptide. However, unpulsed DCs gave a similar level of protection, making it impossible to evaluate the effect of immunisation of mice with DCs pulsed with the specific peptide. Balb/C mice could also be protected from tumour challenge by immunisation with unpulsed DCs prior to challenge with murine mammary tumour cells (410.4) or these cells transfected with MUC1 (E3). Protection was achieved with as few as three injections of 50,000 naïve DCs per mouse per week, was not dependent on injection route, and was not specific to cell lines expressing human MUC1. However, the use of Rag2-knockout mice demonstrated that the adaptive immune response was required for tumour rejection. Injection of unpulsed DCs into mice bearing the E3 tumour slowed tumour growth. In vitro, production of IFN-gamma and IL-4 was increased in splenic cells isolated from mice immunised with DCs. Depleting CD4 T cells in vitro partially decreased cytokine production by splenocytes, but CD8 depletion had no effect. This paper shows that naïve syngeneic DCs may induce an antitumour immune response and has implications for DC immunotherapy preclinical and clinical trials.
    British Journal of Cancer 03/2008; 98(4):784-91. · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Breast Cancer Research 01/2008; 10:1-2. · 5.33 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The type of interaction between tumor-associated antigens and specialized antigen-presenting cells such as dendritic cells (DCs) is critical for the type of immunity that will be generated. MUC1, a highly O-glycosylated mucin, is overexpressed and aberrantly glycosylated in several tumor histotypes. This results in the expression of tumor-associated glycoforms and in MUC1 carrying the tumor-specific glycan Tn (GalNAcalpha1-O-Ser/Thr). Glycopeptides corresponding to three tandem repeats of MUC1, enzymatically glycosylated with 9 or 15 mol of GalNAc, were shown to specifically bind and to be internalized by immature monocyte-derived DCs (iDCs). Binding required calcium and the GalNAc residue and was competed out by GalNAc polymer and Tn-MUC1 or Tn-MUC2 glycopeptides. The macrophage galactose-type C-type lectin (MGL) receptor expressed on iDCs was shown to be responsible for the binding. Confocal analysis and ELISA done on subcellular fractions of iDCs showed that the Tn-MUC1 glycopeptides colocalized with HLA class I and II compartments after internalization. Importantly, although Tn-MUC1 recombinant protein was bound and internalized by MGL, the glycoprotein entered the HLA class II compartment, but not the HLA class I pathway. These data indicate that MGL expressed on iDCs is an optimal receptor for the internalization of short GalNAcs carrying immunogens to be delivered into HLA class I and II compartments. Such glycopeptides therefore represent a new way of targeting the HLA class I and II pathways of DCs. These results have possible implications in designing cancer vaccines.
    Cancer Research 10/2007; 67(17):8358-67. · 8.65 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We have developed an expression system for the production of large quantities of recombinant MUC1 mucin in CHO-K1 (Chinese-hamster ovary K1) cells. The extracellular part of human MUC1, including 16 MUC1 tandem repeats, was produced as a fusion protein with murine IgG Fc, with an intervening enterokinase cleavage site for the removal of the Fc tail. Stable MUC1-IgG-producing CHO-K1 clones were generated and were found to secrete MUC1-IgG into the culture medium. After adaptation to suspension culture in protein-free medium in a bioreactor, the fusion protein was secreted in large quantities (100 mg/l per day) into the culture supernatant. From there, MUC1 could be purified to homogeneity using a two-step procedure including enterokinase cleavage and ion-exchange chromatography. Capillary liquid chromatography MS of released oligosaccharides from CHO-K1-produced MUC1 identified the main O-glycans as Galbeta1-3GalNAc (core 1) and mono- and di-sialylated core 1. The glycans occupied on average 4.3 of the five potential O-glycosylation sites in the tandem repeats, as determined by nano-liquid chromatography MS of partially deglycosylated Clostripain-digested protein. A very similar O-glycan profile and site occupancy was found in MUC1-IgG produced in the breast carcinoma cell line T47D, which has O-glycosylation typical for breast cancer. In contrast, MUC1-IgG produced in another breast cancer cell line, MCF-7, showed a more complex pattern with both core 1- and core 2-based O-glycans. This is the first reported production of large quantities of recombinant MUC1 with a breast cancer-like O-glycosylation that could be used for the immunotherapy of breast cancer.
    Biochemical Journal 01/2004; 376(Pt 3):677-86. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • Biochem.J. 01/2003; 376:677-686.
  • Source
    Breast Cancer Research 01/2003; 5:1-1. · 5.33 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Breast Cancer Research 10:1-2. · 5.33 Impact Factor