Subtractive immunization allowed the isolation and characterization of monoclonal antibodies that specifically inhibit metastasis but not proliferation of highly metastatic human tumor cells. The tolerizing agent cyclophosphamide was used to suppress the immune system in mice to dominant immunodeterminants present on a non-metastatic variant (M-) of the human epidermoid carcinoma cell line (HEp3). Mice were then inoculated with a highly metastatic variant (M+) of HEp3 to enhance an immune response to antigenic determinants present on metastatic cells. Hybridomas were generated and screened by ELISA for differential reactivity to M+ HEp3 over M- HEp3 cells. This experimental approach, termed subtractive immunization (S.I.), was compared to a control immunization protocol, which eliminated the cyclophosphamide treatment. The S.I. protocol resulted in an eight-fold increase in the proportion of mAbs that react with molecules enriched on the surface of the M+ HEp3 cells. Two of the mAbs derived from the S.I. protocol, designated DM12-4 and 1A5, were purified and examined for their effect in a metastasis model system in which chick embryos are transplanted with primary HEp3 tumors. Purified mAbs DM12-4 and 1A5, inoculated i.v. into the embryos, inhibited spontaneous metastasis of HEp3 cells by 86 and 90%, respectively. The mAbs are specifically anti-metastatic in that they have no effect on the growth of HEp3 cells in vitro nor did they inhibit primary tumor growth in vivo. The mAbs recognize M+ HEp3 cell surface molecules of 55 kD and 29 kD, respectively. These data demonstrate that the S.I. protocol can be used for the development of unique mAbs that are reactive with antigenic determinants whose expression is elevated on metastatic human tumor cells and which function mechanistically in the metastatic cascade.

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