JOURNAL ARTICLE

TCRs genetically linked to CD28 and CD3ε do not mispair with endogenous TCR chains and mediate enhanced T cell persistence and anti-melanoma activity

Coen Govers, Zsolt Sebestyén, János Roszik, Mandy van Brakel, Cor Berrevoets, Árpád Szöőr, Konstantina Panoutsopoulou, Marieke Broertjes, Tan Van, György Vereb, János Szöllősi, Reno Debets
Journal of Immunology 2014 November 15, 193 (10): 5315-26
25320284
Adoptive transfer of T cells that are gene engineered to express a defined TCR represents a feasible and promising therapy for patients with tumors. However, TCR gene therapy is hindered by the transient presence and effectiveness of transferred T cells, which are anticipated to be improved by adequate T cell costimulation. In this article, we report the identification and characterization of a novel two-chain TCR linked to CD28 and CD3ε (i.e., TCR:28ε). This modified TCR demonstrates enhanced binding of peptide-MHC and mediates enhanced T cell function following stimulation with peptide compared with wild-type TCR. Surface expression of TCR:28ε depends on the transmembrane domain of CD28, whereas T cell functions depend on the intracellular domains of both CD28 and CD3ε, with IL-2 production showing dependency on CD28:LCK binding. TCR:28ε, but not wild-type TCR, induces detectable immune synapses in primary human T cells, and such immune synapses show significantly enhanced accumulation of TCR transgenes and markers of early TCR signaling, such as phosphorylated LCK and ERK. Importantly, TCR:28ε does not show signs of off-target recognition, as evidenced by lack of TCR mispairing, as well as preserved specificity. Notably, when testing TCR:28ε in immune-competent mice, we observed a drastic increase in T cell survival, which was accompanied by regression of large melanomas with limited recurrence. Our data argue that TCR transgenes that contain CD28, and, thereby, may provide T cell costimulation in an immune-suppressive environment, represent candidate receptors to treat patients with tumors.

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