ABSTRACT: PURPOSE OF REVIEW:Alternative approaches to conventional drug-based cancer treatments have seen T cell therapies deployed more widely over the last decade. This is largely due to their ability to target and kill specific cell types based on receptor recognition. Introduction of recombinant T cell receptors (TCRs) using viral vectors and HLA-independent T cell therapies using chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are discussed. This article reviews the tools used for genome editing, with particular emphasis on the applications of site-specific DNA nuclease mediated editing for T cell therapies. RECENT FINDINGS:Genetic engineering of T cells using TCRs and CARs with redirected antigen-targeting specificity has resulted in clinical success of several immunotherapies. In conjunction, the application of genome editing technologies has resulted in the generation of HLA-independent universal T cells for allogeneic transplantation, improved T cell sustainability through knockout of the checkpoint inhibitor, programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1), and has shown efficacy as an antiviral therapy through direct targeting of viral genomic sequences and entry receptors. SUMMARY:The combined use of engineered antigen-targeting moieties and innovative genome editing technologies have recently shown success in a small number of clinical trials targeting HIV and hematological malignancies and are now being incorporated into existing strategies for other immunotherapies.
Project description:One important purpose of T cell engineering is to generate tumor-targeted T cells through the genetic transfer of antigen-specific receptors, which consist of either physiological, MHC-restricted T cell receptors (TCRs) or non MHC-restricted chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). CARs combine antigen-specificity and T cell activating properties in a single fusion molecule. First generation CARs, which included as their signaling domain the cytoplasmic region of the CD3zeta or Fc receptor gamma chain, effectively redirected T cell cytotoxicity but failed to enable T cell proliferation and survival upon repeated antigen exposure. Receptors encompassing both CD28 and CD3zeta are the prototypes for second generation CARs, which are now rapidly expanding to a diverse array of receptors with different functional properties. First generation CARs have been tested in phase I clinical studies in patients with ovarian cancer, renal cancer, lymphoma, and neuroblastoma, where they have induced modest responses. Second generation CARs, which are just now entering the clinical arena in the B cell malignancies and other cancers, will provide a more significant test for this approach. If the immunogenicity of CARs can be averted, the versatility of their design and HLA-independent antigen recognition will make CARs tools of choice for T cell engineering for the development of targeted cancer immunotherapies.
Project description:Adoptive T cell therapies have achieved significant clinical responses, especially in hematopoietic cancers. Two types of receptor systems have been used to redirect the activity of T cells, normal heterodimeric TCRs or synthetic chimeric Ag receptors (CARs). TCRs recognize peptide-HLA complexes whereas CARs typically use an Ab-derived single-chain fragments variable that recognizes cancer-associated cell-surface Ags. Although both receptors mediate diverse effector functions, a quantitative comparison of the sensitivity and signaling capacity of TCRs and CARs has been limited due to their differences in affinities and ligands. In this study we describe their direct comparison by using TCRs that could be formatted either as conventional ?? heterodimers, or as single-chain fragments variable constructs linked to CD3? and CD28 signaling domains or to CD3? alone. Two high-affinity TCRs (KD values of ?50 and 250 nM) against MART1/HLA-A2 or WT1/HLA-A2 were used, allowing MART1 or WT1 peptide titrations to easily assess the impact of Ag density. Although CARs were expressed at higher surface levels than TCRs, they were 10-100-fold less sensitive, even in the absence of the CD8 coreceptor. Mathematical modeling demonstrated that lower CAR sensitivity could be attributed to less efficient signaling kinetics. Furthermore, reduced cytokine secretion observed at high Ag density for both TCRs and CARs suggested a role for negative regulators in both systems. Interestingly, at high Ag density, CARs also mediated greater maximal release of some cytokines, such as IL-2 and IL-6. These results have implications for the next-generation design of receptors used in adoptive T cell therapies.
Project description:T-cells have a natural ability to fight cancer cells in the tumour microenvironment. Due to thymic selection and tissue-driven immunomodulation, these cancer-fighting T-cells are generally low in number and exhausted. One way to overcome these issues is to genetically alter T-cells to improve their effectiveness. This process can involve introducing a receptor that has high affinity for a tumour antigen, with two promising candidates known as chimeric-antigen receptors (CARs), or T-cell receptors (TCRs) with high tumour specificity. This review focuses on the editing of immune cells to introduce such novel receptors to improve immune responses to cancer. These new receptors redirect T-cells innate killing abilities to the appropriate target on cancer cells. CARs are modified receptors that recognise whole proteins on the surface of cancer cells. They have been shown to be very effective in haematological malignancies but have limited documented efficacy in solid cancers. TCRs recognise internal antigens and therefore enable targeting of a much wider range of antigens. TCRs require major histocompatibility complex (MHC) restriction but novel TCRs may have broader antigen recognition. Moreover, there are multiple cell types which can be used as targets to improve the "off-the-shelf" capabilities of these genetic engineering methods.
Project description:Adoptive cell transfer (ACT) using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-modified T cells can induce durable remissions in patients with refractory B-lymphoid cancers. By contrast, results applying CAR-modified T cells to solid malignancies have been comparatively modest. Alternative strategies to redirect T cell specificity and cytolytic function are therefore necessary if ACT is to serve a greater role in human cancer treatments. T cell receptors (TCRs) are antigen recognition structures physiologically expressed by all T cells that have complementary, and in some cases superior, properties to CARs. Unlike CARs, TCRs confer recognition to epitopes derived from proteins residing within any subcellular compartment, including the membrane, cytoplasm and nucleus. This enables TCRs to detect a broad universe of targets, such as neoantigens, cancer germline antigens, and viral oncoproteins. Moreover, because TCRs have evolved to efficiently detect and amplify antigenic signals, these receptors respond to epitope densities many fold smaller than required for CAR-signaling. Herein, we summarize recent clinical data demonstrating that TCR-based immunotherapies can mediate regression of solid malignancies, including immune-checkpoint inhibitor refractory cancers. These trials simultaneously highlight emerging mechanisms of TCR resistance. We conclude by discussing how TCR-based immunotherapies can achieve broader dissemination through innovations in cell manufacturing and non-viral genome integration techniques.
Project description:T cells engineered to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) targeted to CD19 are effective in treatment of B-lymphoid malignancies. However, CARs recognize all CD19 positive (pos) cells, and durable responses are linked to profound depletion of normal B cells. Here, we designed a strategy to specifically target patient B cells by utilizing the fact that T-cell receptors (TCRs), in contrast to CARs, are restricted by HLA. Two TCRs recognizing a peptide from CD20 (SLFLGILSV) in the context of foreign HLA-A*02:01 (CD20p/HLA-A2) were expressed as 2A-bicistronic constructs. T cells re-directed with the A23 and A94 TCR constructs efficiently recognized malignant HLA-A2(pos) B cells endogenously expressing CD20, including patient-derived follicular lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells. In contrast, a wide range of HLA-A2(pos)CD20(neg) cells representing different tissue origins, and HLA-A2(neg)CD20(pos) cells, were not recognized. Cytotoxic T cells re-directed with CD20p/HLA-A2-specific TCRs or CD19 CARs responded with similar potencies to cells endogenously expressing comparable levels of CD20 and CD19. The CD20p/HLA-A2-specific TCRs recognized CD20p bound to HLA-A2 with high functional avidity. The results show that T cells expressing CD20p/HLA-A2-specific TCRs efficiently and specifically target B cells. When used in context of an HLA-haploidentical allogeneic stem cell transplantation where the donor is HLA-A2(neg) and the patient HLA-A2(pos), these T cells would selectively kill patient-derived B cells and allow reconstitution of the B-cell compartment with HLA-A2(neg) donor cells. These results should pave the way for clinical testing of T cells genetically engineered to target malignant B cells without permanent depletion of normal B cells.
Project description:Cell therapy using T cell receptors (TCRs) and chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) represents a new wave of immunotherapies garnering considerable attention and investment. Further progress in this area of medicine depends in part on improving the functional capabilities of the engineered components, while maintaining the overall size of recombinant constructs to ensure their compatibility with existing gene delivery vehicles. We describe a single-variable-domain TCR (svd TCR) that utilizes only the variable domain of the ? chain (V?). This V? module not only works in TCR and CAR formats, but also can be used to create single-chain bispecific CARs and TCRs. Comparison of individual ligand-binding V? domains in different formats suggests that the lone V? sequence controls the sensitivity and a major part of the specificity of the CAR or TCR construct, regardless of signaling format, in Jurkat and primary T cells.
Project description:Adoptive transfer of T cells transgenic for tumor-reactive T-cell receptors (TCR) is an attractive immunotherapeutic approach. However, clinical translation is so far limited due to challenges in the identification of suitable target antigens as well as TCRs that are concurrent safe and efficient. Definition of key characteristics relevant for effective and specific tumor rejection is essential to improve current TCR-based adoptive T-cell immunotherapies. We here characterized in-depth two TCRs derived from the human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-mismatched allogeneic repertoire targeting two different myeloperoxidase (MPO)-derived peptides presented by the same HLA-restriction element side by side comprising state of the art biochemical and cellular in vitro, in vivo, and in silico experiments. In vitro experiments reveal comparable functional avidities, off-rates, and cytotoxic activities for both TCRs. However, we observed differences especially with respect to cytokine secretion and cross-reactivity as well as in vivo activity. Biochemical and in silico analyses demonstrate different binding qualities of MPO-peptides to the HLA-complex determining TCR qualities. We conclude from our biochemical and in silico analyses of peptide-HLA-binding that rigid and high-affinity binding of peptides is one of the most important factors for isolation of TCRs with high specificity and tumor rejection capacity from the MHC-mismatched repertoire. Based on our results, we developed a workflow for selection of such TCRs with high potency and safety profile suitable for clinical translation.
Project description:Genetically modified T cells to recognize tumor-associated antigens by transgenic TCRs or chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) have been successfully applied in clinical trials. However, the disadvantages of either TCR mismatching or the requirement of a surface tumor antigen limit their wider applications in adoptive T cell therapy. A TCR-like chimeric receptor, specific for the melanoma-related gp100/HLA-A2 complex was created by joining a TCR-like antibody GPA7 with the endodomains of CD28 and CD3-ζ chain. This TCR-like CAR, GPA7-28z, was subsequently introduced into human T cells. Retargeted T cells expressing GPA7-28z could exhibit efficient cytotoxic activities against human melanoma cells in vitro in the context with HLA-A2. Furthermore, infusion of GPA7-28z-transduced T cells suppressed melanoma progression in a xenograft mouse model. Redirecting human T cells with TCR-like CARs would be a promising alternative approach to TCR-mediated therapy for melanoma patients, which is also feasible for targeting a variety of other tumor antigens.
Project description:Tumor-specific T cell receptor (TCR) gene transfer enables specific and potent immune targeting of tumor antigens. Due to the prevalence of the HLA-A2 MHC class I supertype in most human populations, the majority of TCR gene therapy trials targeting public antigens have employed HLA-A2-restricted TCRs, limiting this approach to those patients expressing this allele. For these patients, TCR gene therapy trials have resulted in both tantalizing successes and lethal adverse events, underscoring the need for careful selection of antigenic targets. Broad and safe application of public antigen-targeted TCR gene therapies will require (i) selecting public antigens that are highly tumor-specific and (ii) targeting multiple epitopes derived from these antigens by obtaining an assortment of TCRs restricted by multiple common MHC alleles. The canonical cancer-testis antigen, NY-ESO-1, is not expressed in normal tissues but is aberrantly expressed across a broad array of cancer types. It has also been targeted with A2-restricted TCR gene therapy without adverse events or notable side effects. To enable the targeting of NY-ESO-1 in a broader array of HLA haplotypes, we isolated TCRs specific for NY-ESO-1 epitopes presented by four MHC molecules: HLA-A2, -B07, -B18, and -C03. Using these TCRs, we pilot an approach to extend TCR gene therapies targeting NY-ESO-1 to patient populations beyond those expressing HLA-A2.
Project description:Despite progress in adoptive T-cell therapies, the identification of targets remains a challenge. Although chimeric antigen receptors recognize cell-surface antigens, T-cell receptors (TCR) have the advantage that they can target the array of intracellular proteins by binding to peptides associated with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) products (pepMHC). Although hundreds of cancer-associated peptides have been reported, it remains difficult to identify effective TCRs against each pepMHC complex. Conventional approaches require isolation of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells, followed by TCR?? gene isolation and validation. To bypass this process, we used directed evolution to engineer TCRs with desired peptide specificity. Here, we compared the activity and cross-reactivity of two affinity-matured TCRs (T1 and RD1) with distinct origins. T1-TCR was isolated from a melanoma-reactive T-cell line specific for MART-1/HLA-A2, whereas RD1-TCR was derived de novo against MART-1/HLA-A2 by in vitro engineering. Despite their distinct origins, both TCRs exhibited similar peptide fine specificities, focused on the center of the MART-1 peptide. In CD4+ T cells, both TCRs mediated activity against MART-1 presented by HLA-A2. However, in CD8+ T cells, T1, but not RD1, demonstrated cross-reactivity with endogenous peptide/HLA-A2 complexes. Based on the fine specificity of these and other MART-1 binding TCRs, we conducted bioinformatics scans to identify structurally similar self-peptides in the human proteome. We showed that the T1-TCR cross-reacted with many of these self-peptides, whereas the RD1-TCR was rarely cross-reactive. Thus, TCRs such as RD1, generated de novo against cancer antigens, can serve as an alternative to TCRs generated from T-cell clones.