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Biology of GD2 ganglioside: implications for cancer immunotherapy

Affiliation
Nantes Université ,Univ Angers ,INSERM ,CNRS ,CRCI2NA ,Nantes ,France
Machy, Pierre;
Affiliation
Nantes Université ,Univ Angers ,INSERM ,CNRS ,CRCI2NA ,Nantes ,France
Mortier, Erwan;
Affiliation
Nantes Université ,Univ Angers ,INSERM ,CNRS ,CRCI2NA ,Nantes ,France
Birklé, Stéphane

Part of the broader glycosphingolipid family, gangliosides are composed of a ceramide bound to a sialic acid-containing glycan chain, and locate at the plasma membrane. Gangliosides are produced through sequential steps of glycosylation and sialylation. This diversity of composition is reflected in differences in expression patterns and functions of the various gangliosides. Ganglioside GD2 designates different subspecies following a basic structure containing three carbohydrate residues and two sialic acids. GD2 expression, usually restrained to limited tissues, is frequently altered in various neuroectoderm-derived cancers. While GD2 is of evident interest, its glycolipid nature has rendered research challenging. Physiological GD2 expression has been linked to developmental processes. Passing this stage, varying levels of GD2, physiologically expressed mainly in the central nervous system, affect composition and formation of membrane microdomains involved in surface receptor signaling. Overexpressed in cancer, GD2 has been shown to enhance cell survival and invasion. Furthermore, binding of antibodies leads to immune-independent cell death mechanisms. In addition, GD2 contributes to T-cell dysfunction, and functions as an immune checkpoint. Given the cancer-associated functions, GD2 has been a source of interest for immunotherapy. As a potential biomarker, methods are being developed to quantify GD2 from patients’ samples. In addition, various therapeutic strategies are tested. Based on initial success with antibodies, derivates such as bispecific antibodies and immunocytokines have been developed, engaging patient immune system. Cytotoxic effectors or payloads may be redirected based on anti-GD2 antibodies. Finally, vaccines can be used to mount an immune response in patients. We review here the pertinent biological information on GD2 which may be of use for optimizing current immunotherapeutic strategies.

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License Holder: Copyright © 2023 Machy, Mortier and Birklé.

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