Immunotherapy has emerged as a current and future paradigm of cancer treatment, which utilizes the body’s immune system to eradicate cancer. Natural Killer (NK) cells as part of the innate immune system have immense potential in their anti-tumor cytotoxic activities and host cell surveillance properties. NK cells comprise approximately five to fifteen percent of peripheral blood lymphocytes and can be proliferated in vitro using recently developed methods with co-cultures with feeder cells (derived from engineered tumor cells) or plasma membrane (PM) particles, produced from the fore mentioned feeder cells, in combination with soluble cytokines. For efficient growth and maintenance of these NK cells, Interleukin-2 (IL-2) is utilized. IL-2 in solution, through receptor mediated signaling, stimulates proliferation of T-cells and NK cells. NK cells have lower responsiveness to IL-2 and consequently require a larger systemic dose to stimulate them as opposed to competing cell populations that have higher expression of receptors for IL-2, such as T-cells, which can have the effect of lower effective stimulation of NK cell growth. Such difference in the stimulatory capability of IL-2 toward NK cells and the short circulation lifetime of soluble IL-2 require higher dosages of soluble IL-2 for effective in vivo NK cell proliferation for therapeutic application against cancer, but is toxic. Therefore establishing another form of IL-2 delivery that improves its specific targeting to NK cells would be beneficial and may be crucial for novel therapeutic improvement. The Copik Laboratory has made an IL-2 fusion protein construct having a membrane anchor for expression of membrane-bound IL-2 on K562-41bbl-21 cells (K562-IL21). K562-IL21 cells are selectively recognized by NK cells and stimulate their proliferation and cytotoxicity. Hence, a K562-IL21 membrane–bound IL-2 form should be targeted to NK cells with IL-2 delivery. K562-IL21-2 cells were then used to prepare PM21-2 particles which have the potential to provide NK cell targeted, long-lived form of IL-2 for use as an injectable drug for in vivo adjuvant stimulation of NK cells. The presence of IL-2 on the in the PM21-2 particle product was verified by Western blot, and ELISA. Particle preparations from the modified K562 cells should possess

characteristics that allow them to possibly replace soluble IL-2 and more specifically increase the numbers or anti-tumor activity of NK cell populations. The effect of PM21-2 particles was studied in in vitro culture based experiments, which tested the effectiveness the PM21-2 particles to induce selective NK cells expansion as compared to PM21 particles in the presence or absence of soluble IL-2.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Copik, Alicja


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Medicine


Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences

Degree Program

Biomedical Sciences


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Release Date