Designed ankyrin repeat proteins are effective targeting elements for chimeric antigen receptors.
ABSTRACT: Adoptive cell transfer of tumor-specific T lymphocytes (T cells) is proving to be an effective strategy for treating established tumors in cancer patients. One method of generating these cells is accomplished through engineering bulk T cell populations to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), which are specific for tumor antigens. Traditionally, these CARs are targeted against tumor antigens using single-chain antibodies (scFv). Here we describe the use of a designed ankyrin repeat protein (DARPin) as the tumor-antigen targeting domain.We prepared second generation anti-HER2 CARs that were targeted to the tumor antigen by either a DARPin or scFv. The CARs were engineered into human and murine T cells. We then compared the ability of CARs to trigger cytokine production, degranulation and cytotoxicity.The DARPin CARs displayed reduced surface expression relative to scFv CARs in murine cells but both CARs were expressed equally well on human T cells, suggesting that there may be a processing issue with the murine variants. In both the murine and human systems, the DARPin CARs were found to be highly functional, triggering cytokine and cytotoxic responses that were similar to those triggered by the scFv CARs.These findings demonstrate the utility of DARPins as CAR-targeting agents and open up an avenue for the generation of CARs with novel antigen binding attributes.
Project description:PURPOSE:The outgrowth of antigen-negative variants is a significant challenge for adoptive therapy with T cells that target a single specificity. Chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) are typically designed with one or two scFvs that impart antigen specificity fused to activation and costimulation domains of T-cell signaling molecules. We designed and evaluated the function of CARs with up to three specificities for overcoming tumor escape using Designed Ankyrin Repeat Proteins (DARPins) rather than scFvs for tumor recognition. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:A monospecific CAR was designed with a DARPin binder (E01) specific for EGFR and compared with a CAR designed using an anti-EGFR scFv. CAR constructs in which DARPins specific for EGFR, EpCAM, and HER2 were linked together in a single CAR were then designed and optimized to achieve multispecific tumor recognition. The efficacy of CAR-T cells bearing a multispecific DARPin CAR for treating tumors with heterogeneous antigen expression was evaluated in vivo. RESULTS:The monospecific anti-EGFR E01 DARPin conferred potent tumor regression against EGFR+ targets that was comparable with an anti-EGFR scFv CAR. Linking three separate DARPins in tandem was feasible and in an optimized format generated a single tumor recognition domain that targeted a mixture of heterogeneous tumor cells, each expressing a single antigen, and displayed synergistic activity when tumor cells expressed more than one target antigen. CONCLUSIONS:DARPins can serve as high-affinity recognition motifs for CAR design, and their robust architecture enables linking of multiple binders against different antigens to achieve functional synergy and reduce antigen escape.
Project description:Impressive results have been achieved by adoptively transferring T-cells expressing CD19-specific CARs with binding domains from murine mAbs to treat B-cell malignancies. T-cell mediated immune responses specific for peptides from the murine scFv antigen-binding domain of the CAR can develop in patients and result in premature elimination of CAR T-cells increasing the risk of tumor relapse. As fully human scFv might reduce immunogenicity, we generated CD19-specific human scFvs with similar binding characteristics as the murine FMC63-derived scFv using human Ab/DNA libraries. CARs were constructed in various formats from several scFvs and used to transduce primary human T-cells. The resulting CD19-CAR T-cells were specifically activated by CD19-positive tumor cell lines and primary chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells, and eliminated human lymphoma xenografts in immunodeficient mice. Certain fully human CAR constructs were superior to the FMC63-CAR, which is widely used in clinical trials. Imaging of cell surface distribution of the human CARs revealed no evidence of clustering without target cell engagement, and tonic signaling was not observed. To further reduce potential immunogenicity of the CARs, we also modified the fusion sites between different CAR components. The described fully human CARs for a validated clinical target may reduce immune rejection compared with murine-based CARs.
Project description:Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-expressing T cells targeting B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) have activity against multiple myeloma, but improvements in anti-BCMA CARs are needed. We demonstrated recipient anti-CAR T-cell responses against a murine single-chain variable fragment (scFv) used clinically in anti-BCMA CARs. To bypass potential anti-CAR immunogenicity and to reduce CAR binding domain size, here we designed CARs with antigen-recognition domains consisting of only a fully human heavy-chain variable domain without a light-chain domain. A CAR designated FHVH33-CD8BBZ contains a fully human heavy-chain variable domain (FHVH) plus 4-1BB and CD3? domains. T cells expressing FHVH33-CD8BBZ exhibit similar cytokine release, degranulation, and mouse tumor eradication as a CAR that is identical except for substitution of a scFv for FHVH33. Inclusion of 4-1BB is critical for reducing activation-induced cell death and promoting survival of T cells expressing FHVH33-containing CARs. Our results indicate that heavy-chain-only anti-BCMA CARs are suitable for evaluation in a clinical trial.
Project description:Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) can redirect T cells against antigen-expressing tumors in an HLA-independent manner. To date, various CARs have been constructed using mouse single chain antibody variable fragments (scFvs) of high affinity that are immunogenic in humans and have the potential to mediate "on-target" toxicity. Here, we developed and evaluated a fully human CAR comprised of the human C4 folate receptor-alpha (?FR)-specific scFv coupled to intracellular T cell signaling domains. Human T cells transduced to express the C4 CAR specifically secreted proinflammatory cytokine and exerted cytolytic functions when cultured with ?FR-expressing tumors in vitro. Adoptive transfer of C4 CAR T cells mediated the regression of large, established human ovarian cancer in a xenogeneic mouse model. Relative to a murine MOv19 scFv-based ?FR CAR, C4 CAR T cells mediated comparable cytotoxic tumor activity in vitro and in vivo but had lower affinity for ?FR protein and exhibited reduced recognition of normal cells expressing low levels of ?FR. Thus, T cells expressing a fully human CAR of intermediate affinity can efficiently kill antigen-expressing tumors in vitro and in vivo and may overcome issues of transgene immunogenicity and "on-target off-tumor" toxicity that plague trials utilizing CARs containing mouse-derived, high affinity scFvs.
Project description:Adoptive immunotherapy using T lymphocytes genetically modified to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-T) holds considerable promise for the treatment of cancer. However, CAR-based therapies may involve on-target toxicity against normal tissues expressing low amounts of the targeted tumor-associated antigen (TAA). To specify T cells for robust effector function that is selective for tumor but not normal tissue, we developed a trans-signaling CAR strategy, whereby T-cell activation signal 1 (CD3z) is physically dissociated from costimulatory signal 2 (CD28) in two CARs of differing antigen specificity: mesothelin and a-folate receptor (FRa). Human T cells were genetically modified to coexpress signal 1 (anti-Meso scFv-CD3z) and signal 2 (anti-FRa scFv-CD28) CARs in trans. Trans-signaling CAR-T cells showed weak cytokine secretion against target cells expressing only one TAA in vitro, similar to first-generation CAR-T cells bearing CD3z only, but showed enhanced cytokine secretion upon encountering natural or engineered tumor cells coexpressing both antigens, equivalent to that of second-generation CAR-T cells with dual signaling in cis. CAR-T cells with dual specificity also showed potent anticancer activity and persistence in vivo, which was superior to first-generation CAR-T cells and equivalent to second-generation CARs. Importantly, second-generation CAR-T cells exhibited potent activity against cells expressing mesothelin alone, recapitulating normal tissue, whereas trans-signaling CAR-T cells did not. Thus, a dual specificity, trans-signaling CAR approach can potentiate the therapeutic efficacy of CAR-T cells against cancer while minimizing parallel reactivity against normal tissues bearing single antigen.
Project description:Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are synthetic molecules designed to redirect T cells to specific antigens. CAR-modified T cells can mediate long-term durable remissions in B cell malignancies, but expanding this platform to solid tumors requires the discovery of surface targets with limited expression in normal tissues. The variant III mutation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFRvIII) results from an in-frame deletion of a portion of the extracellular domain, creating a neoepitope. We chose a vector backbone encoding a second-generation CAR based on efficacy of a murine scFv-based CAR in a xenograft model of glioblastoma. Next, we generated a panel of humanized scFvs and tested their specificity and function as soluble proteins and in the form of CAR-transduced T cells; a low-affinity scFv was selected on the basis of its specificity for EGFRvIII over wild-type EGFR. The lead candidate scFv was tested in vitro for its ability to direct CAR-transduced T cells to specifically lyse, proliferate, and secrete cytokines in response to antigen-bearing targets. We further evaluated the specificity of the lead CAR candidate in vitro against EGFR-expressing keratinocytes and in vivo in a model of mice grafted with normal human skin. EGFRvIII-directed CAR T cells were also able to control tumor growth in xenogeneic subcutaneous and orthotopic models of human EGFRvIII(+) glioblastoma. On the basis of these results, we have designed a phase 1 clinical study of CAR T cells transduced with humanized scFv directed to EGFRvIII in patients with either residual or recurrent glioblastoma (NCT02209376).
Project description:Purpose: Given that heterogeneous expression and variants of antigens on solid tumors are responsible for relapse after chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy, we hypothesized that combinatorial targeting two tumor-associated antigens would lessen this problem and enhance the antitumor activity of T cells. Methods: The co-expression level of CD70 and B7-H3 was analyzed in multiple tumor tissue samples. Further, two putative antigens were identified in The Cancer Genome Atlas and Gene Expression Profiling Interactive Analysis database. Two CD70 targeted CARs with different antigen binding domain, truncated CD27 and CD70 specific single-chain antibody fragment (scFv), were designed to screen a more suitable target-antigen binding moiety. Accordingly, we designed a bivalent tandem CAR (TanCAR) and further assessed the anti-tumor efficacy of TanCAR-T cells in vitro and in vivo. Results: Our results indicated that co-expression of CD70 and B7-H3 was observed on multiple tumor types including kidney, breast, esophageal, liver, colon cancer, glioma as well as melanoma. The CD70 targeted CAR-T cells with binding moiety of CD70 specific scFv exhibit a higher affinity and antitumor effect against CD70+ tumor cells. TanCAR-T cells induced enhanced ability of cytolysis and cytokine release over unispecific CAR-T cells when encountering tumor cells expressing two target-antigens. Further, low doses of TanCAR-T cells could also effectively control the lung cancer and melanoma xenografts and improved overall survival of the treated animals. Conclusion: TanCAR-T cells targeting CD70 and B7-H3 exhibit enhanced antitumor functionality and improve the problem of antigenic heterogeneity and variant in the treatment against solid tumor and melanoma.
Project description:Introduction:Since epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR) overexpression is linked to a variety of malignancies, it is an attractive target for immune therapy including chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-engineered T cells. Unfortunately, CAR T cell therapy harbors the risk of severe, even life-threatening side effects. Adaptor CAR T cell platforms such as the previously described UniCAR system might be able to overcome these problems. In contrast to conventional CARs, UniCAR T cells are per se inert. Their redirection towards target cells occurs only in the presence of a tumor-specific target molecule (TM). TMs are bifunctional molecules being able to recognize a tumor-associated antigen and to cross-link the CAR T cell via a peptide epitope recognized by the UniCAR domain. Materials and Methods:Here, we compare ?EGFR TMs: a nanobody (nb)-based ?EGFR TM derived from the camelid ?EGFR antibody 7C12 with a murine and humanized single-chain fragment variable (scFv) based on the clinically used antibody Cetuximab®. Results:In principle, both the nb- and scFv-based TM formats are able to redirect UniCAR T cells to eliminate EGFR-expressing tumor cells in an antigen-specific and TM-dependent manner. However, the scFv-based ?EGFR TM was significantly superior to the nb-based TM especially with respect to lysis of tumor cells. Discussion:Improved efficiency of the scFv-based TM allowed the redirection of UniCAR T cells towards tumor cells expressing high as well as low EGFR levels in comparison to nb-based ?EGFR TMs.
Project description:Although chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapies for certain types of solid tumors have been used in clinical trials, novel CARs that are able to target gastric cancer (GC) are still required. In our previous study, monoclonal antibody 3H11 (mAb 3H11), generated from immunization with five human GC cell lines, was demonstrated to have a 93.5% positive reaction with a clear membrane location and more than 5% cancer cell staining in GC tissues in our previous study. In the present study, 3H11-CARs were designed for modified T cell therapy. To begin with, it was confirmed that the single-chain variable fragment (scFV) of the mAb 3H11, known as scFV-3H11, exhibited similar activity with the natural antibody. In addition, scFV-3H11 CAR-T cells are able to kill tumor cells accompanied with increased interleukin-2 and interferon-? secretion in vitro, and reduced the tumor burden in GC cell lines and patient-derived GC cells in vivo. In conclusion, scFV-3H11 CARs may have the potential to treat mAb 3H11-positive GC.
Project description:Although chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-engineered T cell therapy has achieved encouraging clinical trial results for treating hematological cancers, further optimization can likely expand this therapeutic success to more patients and other cancer types. Most CAR constructs used in clinical trials incorporate single chain variable fragment (scFv) as the extracellular antigen recognition domain. The immunogenicity of nonhuman scFv could cause host rejection against CAR T cells and compromise their persistence and efficacy. The limited availability of scFvs and slow discovery of new monoclonal antibodies also limit the development of novel CAR constructs. Adnectin, a class of affinity molecules derived from the tenth type III domain of human fibronectin, can be an alternative to scFv as an antigen-binding moiety in the design of CAR molecules. We constructed adnectin-based CARs targeting epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR) and found that compared to scFv-based CAR, T cells engineered with adnectin-based CARs exhibited equivalent cell-killing activity against target H292 lung cancer cells in vitro and had comparable antitumor efficacy in xenograft tumor-bearing mice in vivo. In addition, with optimal affinity tuning, adnectin-based CAR showed higher selectivity on target cells with high EGFR expression than on those with low expression. This new design of adnectin CARs can potentially facilitate the development of T cell immunotherapy for cancer and other diseases.