B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) is a promising target for the treatment of multiple myeloma (MM) because the expression of this protein is largely limited to B-cell sets, plasma cells, MM, and other B-cell malignancies. Early studies assessing BCMA protein expression and localization have used insufficiently qualified immunohistochemistry assays, which have reported broad ranges of BCMA expression. As a result, our understanding of BCMA tissue expression derived from these data is limited, specifically the prevalence of BCMA expression on the cell surface/membrane, which has mechanistic relevance to the antimyeloma activity of several novel biotherapeutics. Here, we report on the qualification and application of a novel anti-BCMA immunohistochemistry antibody, 805G12. This antibody shows robust detection of BCMA in formalin-fixed, decalcified bone marrow tissue and provides key insights into membrane BCMA expression. The clone 805G12, which was raised against an intracellular C-terminal domain peptide of membrane BCMA, exhibited increased sensitivity and superior specificity across healthy and diseased tissue compared with the frequently referenced commercial reagent AF193. The new clone also demonstrated a broad range of expression of BCMA in MM and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma specimens. Additionally, cross-reactivity with closely related tumor necrosis factor receptor family members was observed with AF193 but not with 805G12. Furthermore, via established 805G12 and other independent BCMA assays, it was concluded that proteolytic processing by g-secretase contributes to the levels of BCMA localized to the plasma membrane. As BCMA-directed therapeutics emerge to address the need for more effective treatment in the relapsed or refractory MM disease setting, the implementation of a qualified assay would ensure that reliable and consistent data on BCMA surface expression are used to inform clinical trial decisions and patient responses.
Full article is available here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.modpat.2022.100050