Generation of antitumor responses by genetic modification of primary human T cells with a chimeric NKG2D receptor

Tong Zhang, Amorette Barber, Charles L Sentman
Cancer Research 2006 June 1, 66 (11): 5927-33
To create more effective T cells against human tumors, we have designed a strategy to allow T cells to recognize tumor cells using natural killer (NK) cell receptors but retain the effector responses of T lymphocytes. NKG2D is an activating cell surface receptor expressed on NK cells and on some T-cell subsets. Its ligands are primarily expressed on tumor cells. We have shown that by linking mouse NKG2D to the CD3zeta chain, it was possible to generate a chimeric NKG2D (chNKG2D) receptor that allowed activation of murine T cells on engagement with NKG2D ligand-positive tumor cells leading to antitumor responses in mice. In this study, a human version of the chNKG2D receptor was expressed on primary human T cells, and antitumor responses were determined. Human peripheral blood mononuclear cell-derived T cells were retrovirally transduced with a human chNKG2D receptor gene. These chNKG2D-bearing human T cells responded to NKG2D ligand-positive tumor cells by producing T-helper 1 cytokines, proinflammatory chemokines, and significant cellular cytotoxicity. This response could be blocked by anti-NKG2D antibodies, and it was dependent on NKG2D ligand expression on the target cells but not on expression of MHC molecules. In addition, the activity of chNKG2D-bearing T cells remained unimpaired after exposure to a soluble NKG2D ligand, soluble MICA, at concentrations as high as 1.5 mug/mL. These data indicate the feasibility of using chNKG2D receptors in primary human T cells and suggest that this approach may be a promising means for cancer immunotherapy.

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