To characterize cell surface molecules involved in control of growth of malignant lymphocytes, monoclonal antibodies were raised against the human B lymphoblast cell line SKW6.4. One monoclonal antibody, anti-APO-1, reacted with a 52-kilodalton antigen (APO-1) on a set of activated human lymphocytes, on malignant human lymphocyte lines, and on some patient-derived leukemic cells. Nanogram quantities of anti-APO-1 completely blocked proliferation of cells bearing APO-1 in vitro in a manner characteristic of a process called programmed cell death or apoptosis. Cell death was preceded by changes in cell morphology and fragmentation of DNA. This process was distinct from antibody- and complement-dependent cell lysis and was mediated by the antibody alone. A single intravenous injection of anti-APO-1 into nu/nu mice carrying a xenotransplant of a human B cell tumor induced regression of this tumor within a few days. Histological thin sections of the regressing tumor showed that anti-APO-1 was able to induce apoptosis in vivo. Thus, induction of apoptosis as a consequence of a signal mediated through cell surface molecules like APO-1 may be a useful therapeutic approach in treatment of malignancy.

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