Intracellular single-chain antibodies (scFvs) have emerged as a powerful method to knock out expression of oncoproteins. We have demonstrated previously that scFvs directed against a variety of molecular targets induce specific toxicity in tumor cells. Recently, the utility of an anti-erbB-2 scFv has predicated its evaluation in a phase I gene therapy clinical trial. The utility of scFv as an intrabody is closely linked to its interaction with a target, limiting the contribution of the latter to the neoplastic phenotype. In this study, we sought to determine whether improvement in the affinity of the scFv for its cognate target could improve the efficiency of intrabody-mediated oncoprotein knockout. We compared in erbB-2-positive and -negative tumor cells the function of plasmids encoding a newly developed C6.5 anti-erbB-2 scFv, which has a 1000-fold higher affinity, with our original e23 anti-erbB-2 scFv. Intracellular scFv expression, target binding, and tumor cell cytotoxicity were found to be similar in all conditions tested, including dose-response studies with limiting dilutions of the scFv. On this basis, we have concluded that the antineoplastic effect of anti-erbB-2 intrabody is not correlated with scFv affinity for its target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1250-1256
Number of pages7
JournalCancer gene therapy
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2000


  • Cytotoxicity
  • Gene therapy
  • Single-chain antibody
  • erbB-2


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