An MHC-restricted antibody-based chimeric antigen receptor requires TCR-like affinity to maintain antigen specificity.
ABSTRACT: Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are synthetic receptors that usually redirect T cells to surface antigens independent of human leukocyte antigen (HLA). Here, we investigated a T cell receptor-like CAR based on an antibody that recognizes HLA-A*0201 presenting a peptide epitope derived from the cancer-testis antigen NY-ESO-1. We hypothesized that this CAR would efficiently redirect transduced T cells in an HLA-restricted, antigen-specific manner. However, we found that despite the specificity of the soluble Fab, the same antibody in the form of a CAR caused moderate lysis of HLA-A2 expressing targets independent of antigen owing to T cell avidity. We hypothesized that lowering the affinity of the CAR for HLA-A2 would improve its specificity. We undertook a rational approach of mutating residues that, in the crystal structure, were predicted to stabilize binding to HLA-A2. We found that one mutation (DN) lowered the affinity of the Fab to T cell receptor-range and restored the epitope specificity of the CAR. DN CAR T cells lysed native tumor targets in vitro, and, in a xenogeneic mouse model implanted with two human melanoma lines (A2+/NYESO+ and A2+/NYESO-), DN CAR T cells specifically migrated to, and delayed progression of, only the HLA-A2+/NY-ESO-1+ melanoma. Thus, although maintaining MHC-restricted antigen specificity required T cell receptor-like affinity that decreased potency, there is exciting potential for CARs to expand their repertoire to include a broad range of intracellular antigens.
Project description:The development of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and bispecific T-cell engager (BiTE) has led to the successful application of cancer immunotherapy. The potential reactivity mediated by CAR- and BiTE-redirected T cells needs to be assessed to facilitate the application of these treatment options to a broader range of patients. Here, we have generated CAR and BiTE possessing the same single chain fragment variable (scFv) specific for the HLA-A2/NY-ESO-1157-165 complex (A2/NY-ESO-1157). Using HLA-A2+NY-ESO-1+ myeloma cells and peptides presented by HLA-A2 molecules as a model, both sets of redirected T cells recognized and killed HLA-A2+NY-ESO-1+ myeloma cells in an A2/NY-ESO-1157-specific manner in vitro. Moreover, CAR- and BiTE-activated T cells showed similar functional avidity, as assessed by cytokine production and killing activity, both displaying antitumor reactivity against HLA-A2+NY-ESO-1+ myeloma cells in vivo. Interestingly, cross-reactivity for homologous peptides presented by HLA-A*02:01 and NY-ESO-1157 peptide presented by HLA-A2 alleles was not identical between CAR- and BiTE-redirected T cells, probably due to structural differences of modified antibodies. These results have demonstrated that both antitumor CAR- and BiTE-activated T cells have comparable potential to recognize tumors, while paying attention to unknown off-target reactivity that would differ for each antibody-based modality even if the same scFv was employed.
Project description:Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology can be used to engineer the antigen specificity of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and improve their potency as an adoptive cell therapy in multiple disease models. As synthetic receptors, CARs carry the risk of immunogenicity, particularly when derived from nonhuman antibodies. Using an HLA-A*02:01-specific CAR (A2-CAR) encoding a single-chain variable fragment (Fv) derived from a mouse antibody, we developed a panel of 20 humanized A2-CARs (hA2-CARs). Systematic testing demonstrated variations in expression, and ability to bind HLA-A*02:01 and stimulate human Treg suppression in vitro. In addition, we developed a new method to comprehensively map the alloantigen specificity of CARs, revealing that humanization reduced HLA-A cross-reactivity. In vivo bioluminescence imaging showed rapid trafficking and persistence of hA2-CAR Tregs in A2-expressing allografts, with eventual migration to draining lymph nodes. Adoptive transfer of hA2-CAR Tregs suppressed HLA-A2+ cell-mediated xenogeneic graft-versus-host disease and diminished rejection of human HLA-A2+ skin allografts. These data provide a platform for systematic development and specificity testing of humanized alloantigen-specific CARs that can be used to engineer specificity and homing of therapeutic Tregs.
Project description:NY-ESO-1 and LAGE-1 are cancer testis antigens with an ideal profile for tumor immunotherapy, combining up-regulation in many cancer types with highly restricted expression in normal tissues and sharing a common HLA-A*0201 epitope, 157-165. Here, we present data to describe the specificity and anti-tumor activity of a bifunctional ImmTAC, comprising a soluble, high-affinity T-cell receptor (TCR) specific for NY-ESO-1157-165 fused to an anti-CD3 scFv. This reagent, ImmTAC-NYE, is shown to kill HLA-A2, antigen-positive tumor cell lines, and freshly isolated HLA-A2- and LAGE-1-positive NSCLC cells. Employing time-domain optical imaging, we demonstrate in vivo targeting of fluorescently labelled high-affinity NYESO-specific TCRs to HLA-A2-, NY-ESO-1157-165-positive tumors in xenografted mice. In vivo ImmTAC-NYE efficacy was tested in a tumor model in which human lymphocytes were stably co-engrafted into NSG mice harboring tumor xenografts; efficacy was observed in both tumor prevention and established tumor models using a GFP fluorescence readout. Quantitative RT-PCR was used to analyze the expression of both NY-ESO-1 and LAGE-1 antigens in 15 normal tissues, 5 cancer cell lines, 10 NSCLC, and 10 ovarian cancer samples. Overall, LAGE-1 RNA was expressed at a greater frequency and at higher levels than NY-ESO-1 in the tumor samples. These data support the clinical utility of ImmTAC-NYE as an immunotherapeutic agent for a variety of cancers.
Project description:NY-ESO-1 belongs to the cancer/testis antigen (CTA) family and represents an attractive target for cancer immunotherapy. Its expression is induced in a variety of solid tumors via DNA demethylation of the promoter of CpG islands. However, NY-ESO-1 expression is usually very low or absent in some tumors such as breast cancer or multiple myeloma. Therefore, we established an optimized in vitro treatment protocol for up-regulation of NY-ESO-1 expression by tumor cells using the hypomethylating agent 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (DAC).We demonstrated de novo induction of NY-ESO-1 in MCF7 breast cancer cells and significantly increased expression in U266 multiple myeloma cells. This effect was time- and dose-dependent with the highest expression of NY-ESO-1 mRNA achieved by the incubation of 10 ?M DAC for 72 hours. NY-ESO-1 activation was also confirmed at the protein level as shown by Western blot, flow cytometry, and immunofluorescence staining. The detection and quantification of single NY-ESO-1 peptides presented at the tumor cell surface in the context of HLA-A*0201 molecules revealed an increase of 100% and 50% for MCF7 and U266 cells, respectively. Moreover, the enhanced expression of NY-ESO-1 derived peptides at the cell surface was accompanied by an increased specific lysis of MCF7 and U266 cells by HLA-A*0201/NY-ESO-1(157-165) peptide specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) CD8+ T cells. In addition, the killing activity of CAR T cells correlated with the secretion of higher IFN-gamma levels.These results indicate that NY-ESO-1 directed immunotherapy with specific CAR T cells might benefit from concomitant DAC treatment.
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:The cancer-testis antigen NY-ESO-1 has been used as a target for different immunotherapies like vaccinations and adoptive transfer of antigen-specific cytotoxic T cells, as it is expressed in various tumor types and has limited expression in normal cells. The in vitro generation of T cells with defined antigen specificity by T cell receptor (TCR) gene transfer is an established method to create cells for immunotherapy. However, an extensive characterization of TCR which are candidates for treatment of patients is crucial for successful therapies. The TCR has to be efficiently expressed, their affinity to the desired antigen should be high enough to recognize low amounts of endogenously processed peptides on tumor cells, and the TCR should not be cross-reactive to other antigens. We characterized three NY-ESO-1 antigen-reactive cytotoxic T lymphocyte clones which were generated by different approaches of T cell priming (autologous, allogeneic), and transferred their TCR into donor T cells for more extensive evaluations. Although one TCR most efficiently bound MHC-multimers loaded with NY-ESO-1 peptide, T cells expressing this transgenic TCR were not able to recognize endogenously processed antigen. A second TCR recognized HLA-A2 independent of the bound peptide beside its much stronger recognition of NY-ESO-1 bound to HLA-A2. A third TCR displayed an intermediate but peptide-specific performance in all functional assays and, therefore, is the most promising candidate TCR for further clinical development. Our data indicate that multiple parameters of TCR gene-modified T cells have to be evaluated to identify an optimal TCR candidate for adoptive therapy.
Project description:This article presented a case of a human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A2-positive patient with advanced cancer/testis antigen New York esophageal squamous cell carcinoma-1 (NY-ESO-1) expressing lung adenocarcinoma (LADC) who received adoptive cell therapy of T cell receptor engineered-T cells (TCR-T cells) targeting the cancer-testis antigen NY-ESO-1. The appropriate clinical and laboratory assessments were conducted to investigate the safety and efficacy of this therapy for this lung cancer patient. The patient had a clinical response to and was well-tolerated with this therapy in the clinical trial. In addition, a preliminary evaluation of the safety of NY-ESO-1 TCR-T cell therapy was performed in four patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) enrolled in a clinical trial. It was well-tolerated and did not observe any serious adverse events post-infusion. Fever, anemia, and a decrease in white blood cell count were common adverse events, which were likely due to the TCR-T cell therapy. Two patients had clinical responses to NY-ESO-1 TCR-T cell therapy, including the 44-year-old female patient with LADC, who achieved a short-term partial response for 4 months, improved in Karnofsky performance status, and had a recovery of drug sensitivity. This suggests that TCR-T cell therapy targeting NY-ESO-1 antigen may be beneficial for HLA-A2-positive late-stage patients with NY-ESO-1-expressing NSCLC.
Project description:NY-ESO-1 is a "cancer-testis" antigen expressed in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) and is among the most immunogenic tumor antigens defined to date. The NY-ESO-1 peptide epitope, ESO(157-170), is recognized by HLA-DP4-restricted CD4+ T cells and HLA-A2- and A24-restricted CD8+ T cells. To test whether providing cognate helper CD4+ T cells would enhance the antitumor immune response, we conducted a phase I clinical trial of immunization with ESO(157-170) mixed with incomplete Freund's adjuvant (Montanide ISA51) in 18 HLA-DP4+ EOC patients with minimal disease burden. NY-ESO-1-specific Ab responses and/or specific HLA-A2-restricted CD8+ and HLA-DP4-restricted CD4+ T cell responses were induced by a course of at least five vaccinations at three weekly intervals in a high proportion of patients. There were no serious vaccine-related adverse events. Vaccine-induced CD8+ and CD4+ T cell clones were shown to recognize NY-ESO-1-expressing tumor targets. T cell receptor analysis indicated that tumor-recognizing CD4+ T cell clones were structurally distinct from non-tumor-recognizing clones. Long-lived and functional vaccine-elicited CD8+ and CD4+ T cells were detectable in some patients up to 12 months after immunization. These results confirm the paradigm that the provision of cognate CD4+ T cell help is important for cancer vaccine design and provides the rationale for a phase II study design using ESO(157-170) epitope or the full-length NY-ESO-1 protein for immunotherapy in patients with EOC.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Indirect evidence suggesting the immunosensitivity/immunogenicity of neuroblastoma is accumulating. The aims of this study were to investigate the immune landscape of neuroblastoma and to evaluate the in vivo immunogenicity of the NY-ESO-1 tumor antigen in advanced neuroblastoma patients. METHODS:The immune infiltrating cells of the NY-ESO-1+ tumors from three HLA*A201 patients with metastatic neuroblastoma who relapsed after conventional treatments were evaluated by immunohistochemistry. The patients were vaccinated with the HLA-A*0201-restricted peptide NY-ESO-1157-165(V). The peptide was emulsified in Montanide ISA51 and given subcutaneously in a phase I pilot study. The immunogenicity of NY-ESO-1 antigen was evaluated by monitoring mononuclear cells in patient peripheral blood, pre- and post-vaccine, by short-term in vitro sensitization, HLA-multimer staining and IFN-? ELISpot analysis. RESULTS:Both CD3 T cells and CD163 myeloid cells were present in pre-vaccine tumors and PD-1 and PD-L1 expression was mainly found in the immune infiltrate. Despite the advanced stage of the disease, the vaccination induced systemic NY-ESO-1 specific CD8 T cells releasing IFN-? in response to activation with the NY-ESO-1 peptide and an HLA-A2 positive neuroblastoma cell line. CONCLUSIONS:Our results indicate that vaccination with a tumor-associated peptide is able to boost NY-ESO-1-specific, functionally active T cells in advanced neuroblastoma patients with lymphocyte infiltration in their pre-vaccine tumors. TRIAL REGISTRATION:EudraCT #2006-002859-33.
Project description:We investigated whether TCRs restricted to the more ubiquitously expressed MHC class I molecules could be used to redirect human regulatory T cells (Tregs). Using a series of HLA-A2-restricted TCRs that recognize the same peptide-MHC class I complex (pMHC) with affinities varying up to 3500 fold, we observed that TCR affinity had no effect on the ability of the introduced TCRs to confer potent Ag-specific suppressive activity. Surprisingly, we found a naturally occurring, low-affinity MHC class I-restricted TCR specific for an NY-ESO-1 epitope that was unable to redirect a functional CD4 T-effector cell response could confer potent antigen-specific suppressive activity when expressed in Tregs and severely impair the expansion of highly functional HIV-1(GAG)-specific CD8 T cells expressing a high-affinity TCR. This suppressive activity was only observed when both Ags were presented by the same cell, and no suppression was observed when the target Ags were put in distinct cells. These studies underscore the clinical utility of using MHC class I-restricted TCRs to endow Tregs with specificity to control autoimmune disease and highlight the conditions in which this approach would have most therapeutic benefit.