Human autoantibodies to contactin-associated protein-like 2 (CASPR2) are often associated with neuropathic pain, and CASPR2 mutations have been linked to autism spectrum disorders, in which sensory dysfunction is increasingly recognized. Human CASPR2 autoantibodies, when injected into mice, were peripherally restricted and resulted in mechanical pain-related hypersensitivity in the absence of neural injury. We therefore investigated the mechanism by which CASPR2 modulates nociceptive function. Mice lacking CASPR2 (Cntnap2-/-) demonstrated enhanced pain-related hypersensitivity to noxious mechanical stimuli, heat, and algogens. Both primary afferent excitability and subsequent nociceptive transmission within the dorsal horn were increased in Cntnap2-/- mice. Either immune or genetic-mediated ablation of CASPR2 enhanced the excitability of DRG neurons in a cell-autonomous fashion through regulation of Kv1 channel expression at the soma membrane. This is the first example of passive transfer of an autoimmune peripheral neuropathic pain disorder and demonstrates that CASPR2 has a key role in regulating cell-intrinsic dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neuron excitability.
We developed an RNA-sequencing-based pipeline to discover differentially expressed cell-surface molecules in neuroblastoma that meet criteria for optimal immunotherapeutic target safety and efficacy. Here, we show that GPC2 is a strong candidate immunotherapeutic target in this childhood cancer. We demonstrate high GPC2 expression in neuroblastoma due to MYCN transcriptional activation and/or somatic gain of the GPC2 locus. We confirm GPC2 to be highly expressed on most neuroblastomas, but not detectable at appreciable levels in normal childhood tissues. In addition, we demonstrate that GPC2 is required for neuroblastoma proliferation. Finally, we develop a GPC2-directed antibody-drug conjugate that is potently cytotoxic to GPC2-expressing neuroblastoma cells. Collectively, these findings validate GPC2 as a non-mutated neuroblastoma oncoprotein and candidate immunotherapeutic target.