T-cell clones can be rendered specific for CD19: toward the selective augmentation of the graft-versus-B-lineage leukemia effect

Laurence J N Cooper, Max S Topp, Lisa Marie Serrano, Sergio Gonzalez, Wen-Chung Chang, Araceli Naranjo, Christine Wright, Leslie Popplewell, Andrew Raubitschek, Stephen J Forman, Michael C Jensen
Blood 2003 February 15, 101 (4): 1637-44
Relapse of B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) commonly results from the failure of a graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect to eradicate minimal residual disease. Augmenting the GVL effect by the adoptive transfer of donor-derived B-ALL-specific T-cell clones is a conceptually attractive strategy to decrease relapse rates without exacerbating graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Toward this end, we investigated whether a genetic engineering approach could render CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) specific for tumor cells that express the B-cell lineage cell surface molecule CD19. This was accomplished by the genetic modification of CTLs to express a chimeric immunoreceptor composed of a CD19-specific single-chain immunoglobulin extracellular targeting domain fused to a CD3-zeta intracellular signaling domain. CD19-redirected CTL clones display potent CD19-specific lytic activity and chimeric immunoreceptor-regulated cytokine production and proliferation. Because B-ALL cells can evade T-cell/natural killer- cell recognition by down-regulation of cell surface accessory molecules that participate in the formation of a functional immunologic synapse, we compared the CD19-specific effector function of genetically modified CD8(+) CTLs toward CD19(+) cells with disparate levels of intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1), leukocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1), and LFA-3. We observed that recognition of B-lineage tumor lines by CD19-specific CTLs was not impaired by low levels of ICAM-1, LFA-1, and LFA-3 cell surface expression, a functional attribute that is likely a consequence of our high-affinity CD19-specific chimeric immunoreceptor. Furthermore, the CD19-specific CTLs could lyse primary B-ALL blasts. These preclinical observations form the basis for implementing clinical trials using donor-derived CD19-specific T-cell clones to treat or prevent relapse of B-ALL after allogeneic HSCT.

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