Despite the progress made in cancer research, cancer remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Although the development of new cancer treatments has improved cancer patients' survival rate, a significant number of patients experience refractory and recurrence events with serious side effects. It is known that the immune system actively participates in eliminating cancer. However, cancer cells can develop mechanisms to evade the immune system resulting in immunotolerance. Immunotherapy aids the patient's immune system's ability to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. During the last three decades, immunotherapy has gradually emerged as an effective and more specific approach to treat cancer. Particularly monoclonal antibodies and adoptive cell therapies such as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells have proven highly effective. Nevertheless, the success of these novel therapies depends on discovering suitable tumor targets. Recently, we reported localization of Thymidine Kinase 1 (TK1) to the plasma membrane of certain cancer cells but have not found such localization on normal cells. Similarly, another nucleotide salvage pathway enzyme Hypoxanthine Guanine Phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT), has also been reported to be localized to the plasma membrane of certain cancer cells. Thus, TK1 and HPRT membrane-associated forms can be potential tumor targets for cancer immunotherapy. This dissertation describes the immunotargeting of TK1 for the selective elimination of tumor cells and the surface localization of HPRT on the plasma membrane of cancer cells. Using hybridoma and phage display technologies, we developed monoclonal antibodies (mAb) and isolated human single domain antibodies (sdAb) specific to human TK1. We confirmed that antibodies and sdAbs could target TK1 on the plasma membrane of lung, breast and colon cancer cells, but not on healthy cells. In addition, we demonstrated that cancer cells expressing membrane-associated TK1 (mTK1) co-cultured with human mononuclear cells (MNC) were selectively eliminated through antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) when anti-TK1 mAbs were added. Furthermore, we designed novel TK1 specific tumor targeting receptors and expressed them in human T cells and human macrophages. Finally, we proposed using both TK1 and HPRT as biomarkers for the early detection and monitoring of follicular lymphoma (FL), a disease that is usually detected at advanced stages. The knowledge generated from the data presented in this dissertation indicates that TK1 and HPRT may be suitable immunotherapeutic targets for antibody-based and adoptive cell-based therapies against both liquid and solid malignancies. It also proposes the incorporation of TK1 and HPRT as molecular biomarkers for the early detection and monitoring of FL.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Microbiology and Molecular Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Thymidine Kinase 1, Hypoxanthine Guanine Phosphoribosyltransferase, tumor biomarker, monoclonal antibody, single domain antibody



Included in

Life Sciences Commons