A retroviral vector system 'STITCH' in combination with an optimized single chain antibody chimeric receptor gene structure allows efficient gene transduction and expression in human T lymphocytes

M E Weijtens, R A Willemsen, E H Hart, R L Bolhuis
Gene Therapy 1998, 5 (9): 1195-203
Genetic engineering of T lymphocytes for adoptive clinical immunotherapy calls for efficient gene transduction methods. Therefore, a transient retroviral gene transduction system 'STITCH' was developed comprising pSTITCH retroviral vector encoding the transgene, plasmids encoding Moloney murine leukemia virus gag/pol and gibbon ape leukemia virus envelope, and the human kidney cell line 293T as a packaging line. Cotransfection of retroviral vector and packaging plasmids in 293T cells results in the production of GALV env pseudotyped viral particles with a titer of 10(7) infectious units per milliliter. The 'STITCH' gene transduction system efficiently transduces genes into activated human T lymphocytes derived from healthy donors and cancer patients. The efficacy of gene transduction is donor-independent. A direct application of the 'STITCH' gene transduction system is the genetic engineering of activated human T lymphocytes to induce expression of antibody based chimeric receptors in their membrane. Introduction of these chimeric receptors into activated human T lymphocytes graft these cells with specificity for, for example, renal cell carcinoma. In order to study the effect of the chimeric receptor gene structure on the processes ultimately leading to functional membrane expression, we designed a number of different chimeric receptor gene structures and subsequently compared their membrane expression on 293T cells and activated human T lymphocytes. Distinct membrane expression densities were observed on 293T cells and human T lymphocytes for the different chimeric receptor gene constructs. Gene transduction of activated human T lymphocytes with four out of five chimeric receptor gene constructs resulted in functional expression of chimeric receptor as demonstrated by specific recognition and cytolysis of renal cell carcinoma.

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