Purpose: This study examines cell surface ROR1 expression in human tumors and normal tissues. ROR1 is considered a promising target for cancer therapy due to putative tumor-specific expression, and multiple groups are developing antibodies and/or chimeric antigen receptor–modified T cells to target ROR1. On-target, off-tumor toxicity is a challenge for most nonmutated tumor antigens; however, prior studies suggest that ROR1 is absent on most normal tissues.
Experimental Design: Our studies show that published antibodies lack sensitivity to detect endogenous levels of cell surface ROR1 by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues. We developed a ROR1-specific monoclonal antibody (mAb) targeting the carboxy-terminus of ROR1 and evaluated its specificity and sensitivity in IHC.
Results: The 6D4 mAb is a sensitive and specific reagent to detect cell surface ROR1 by IHC. The data show that ROR1 is homogenously expressed on a subset of ovarian cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, and lung adenocarcinomas. Contrary to previous findings, we found ROR1 is expressed on several normal tissues, including parathyroid; pancreatic islets; and regions of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The 6D4 mAb recognizes rhesus ROR1, and ROR1 expression was similar in human and macaque tissues, suggesting that the macaque is a suitable model to evaluate safety of ROR1-targeted therapies.
Conclusions: ROR1 is a promising immunotherapeutic target in many epithelial tumors; however, high cell surface ROR1 expression in multiple normal tissues raises concerns for on-target off-tumor toxicities. Clinical translation of ROR1-targeted therapies warrants careful monitoring of toxicities to normal organs and may require strategies to ensure patient safety. Clin Cancer Res; 1–11. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Clinical Cancer Research Online (http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received August 25, 2016.
- Revision received October 31, 2016.
- Accepted November 2, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.