JOURNAL ARTICLE

Construction and evaluation of a novel humanized HER2-specific chimeric receptor

Meili Sun, Huan Shi, Chuanyong Liu, Jie Liu, Xianqiang Liu, Yuping Sun
Breast Cancer Research: BCR 2014, 16 (3): R61
24919843

INTRODUCTION: The human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) represents one of the most studied tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) for cancer immunotherapy. The monoclonal antibody (mAb) trastuzumab has improved the outcomes of patients with HER2+ breast cancer. However, a large number of HER2+ tumors are not responsive to, or become resistant to, trastuzumab-based therapy, and thus more effective therapies targeting HER2 are needed.

METHODS: HER2-specific T cells were generated by the transfer of genes that encode chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). Using a multistep overlap extension PCR method, we constructed a novel, humanized HER2 CAR-containing, chA21 single-chain variable fragment (scFv) region of antigen-specific mAb and T-cell intracellular signaling chains made up of CD28 and CD3ζ. An interferon γ and interleukin 2 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and a chromium-51 release assay were used to evaluate the antitumor immune response of CAR T cells in coculture with tumor cells. Furthermore, SKBR3 tumor-bearing nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency (NOD/SCID) mice were treated with HER2 CAR T cells to evaluate antitumor activity. Human CD3+ T cell accumulation in tumor xenograft was detected by immunohistochemistry.

RESULTS: chA21-28z CAR was successfully constructed, and both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were transduced. The expanded HER2 CAR T cells expressed a central memory phenotype and specifically reacted against HER2+ tumor cell lines. Furthermore, the SKBR3 tumor xenograft model revealed that HER2 CAR T cells significantly inhibited tumor growth in vivo. Immunohistochemical analysis showed robust accumulation of human CD3+ T cells in regressing SKBR3 lesions.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study show that novel chA21 scFv-based, HER2-specific CAR T cells not only recognized and killed HER2+ breast and ovarian cancer cells ex vivo but also induced regression of experimental breast cancer in vivo. Our data support further exploration of the HER2 CAR T-cell therapy for HER2-expressing cancers.

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