Preservation and redirection of HPV16E7-specific T cell receptors for immunotherapy of cervical cancer

Kirsten B J Scholten, Marco W J Schreurs, Janneke J Ruizendaal, Esther W M Kueter, Duco Kramer, Sharon Veenbergen, Chris J L M Meijer, Erik Hooijberg
Clinical Immunology: the Official Journal of the Clinical Immunology Society 2005, 114 (2): 119-29
Human papilloma virus (HPV) type 16 infections of the genital tract are associated with the development of cervical cancer (CxCa) in women. HPV16-derived oncoproteins E6 and E7 are expressed constitutively in these lesions and might therefore be attractive candidates for T-cell-mediated adoptive immunotherapy. However, the low precursor frequency of HPV16E7-specific T cells in patients and healthy donors hampers routine isolation of these cells for adoptive transfer. To overcome this problem, we have isolated T cell receptor (TCR) genes from four different HPV16E7-specific healthy donor and patient-derived human cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clones. We examined whether genetic engineering of peripheral blood-derived CD8+ T cells in order to express HPV16E711-20-specific TCRs is feasible for adoptive transfer purposes. Reporter cells (Jurkat/MA) carrying a transgenic TCR were shown to bind relevant but not irrelevant tetramers. Moreover, these TCR-transgenic Jurkat/MA cells showed reactivity towards relevant target cells, indicating proper functional activity of the TCRs isolated from already available T cell clones. We next introduced an HPV16E711-20-specific TCR into blood-derived, CD8+ recipient T cells. Transgenic CTL clones stained positive for tetramers presenting the relevant HPV16E711-20 epitope and biological activity of the TCR in transduced CTL was confirmed by lytic activity and by interferon (IFN)-gamma secretion upon antigen-specific stimulation. Importantly, we show recognition of the endogenously processed and HLA-A2 presented HPV16E711-20 CTL epitope by A9-TCR-transgenic T cells. Collectively, our data indicate that HPV16E7 TCR gene transfer is feasible as an alternative strategy to generate human HPV16E7-specific T cells for the treatment of patients suffering from cervical cancer and other HPV16-induced malignancies.

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