Altered expression of the Fas ligand (FasL)/Fas ratio exhibits a direct impact on the prognosis of cancer patients, and its impairment in cancer cells may lead to apoptosis resistance. Thus, the development of effective therapies targeting the FasL/Fas system may play an important role in the fight against cancer. In this study, we evaluated whether a fusion protein (hcc49scFv- FasL) comprising of the cytotoxicity domain of the FasL fused to a humanized antibody (CC49) against tumor-Associated glycoprotein 72, which is expressed on oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), can selectively kill OSCC cells with different FasL/Fas ratios. In clinical samples, the significantly low FasL and high Fas transcripts were observed in tumors compared with normal tissues. A lower FasL/Fas ratio was correlated with a worse prognosis of OSCC patients and higher proliferative and invasive abilities of OSCC cells. The hcc49scFv-FasL showed a selective cytotoxic effect on OSCC cells (Cal-27 and SAS) but not on normal oral keratinocytes cells (HOK) through apoptosis induction. Moreover, SAS cells harboring a lower FasL/Fas ratio than Cal-27 were more sensitive to the cytotoxic effect of hcc49scFv-FasL. Unlike wild-Type FasL, hcc49scFv-FasL was not cleaved by matrix metalloproteinases and did not induce nonapoptotic signaling in SAS cells. In vivo, we found that hcc49scFv-FasL drastically reduced the formation of lymphnode metastasis and decreased primary tumor growth in SAS orthotopic and subcutaneous xenograft tumor models. Collectively, our data indicate that a tumor-Targeting antibody fused to the FasL can be a powerful tool for OSCC treatment, especially in populations with a low FasL/Fas ratio.
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