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J Immunol. 2007 Nov 1;179(9):5845-54.

High-affinity TCRs generated by phage display provide CD4+ T cells with the ability to recognize and kill tumor cell lines.

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Surgery Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


We examined the activity of human T cells engineered to express variants of a single TCR (1G4) specific for the cancer/testis Ag NY-ESO-1, generated by bacteriophage display with a wide range of affinities (from 4 microM to 26 pM). CD8(+) T cells expressing intermediate- and high-affinity 1G4 TCR variants bound NY-ESO-1/HLA-A2 tetramers with high avidity and Ag specificity, but increased affinity was associated with a loss of target cell specificity of the TCR gene-modified cells. T cells expressing the highest affinity TCR (K(D) value of 26 pM) completely lost Ag specificity. The TCRs with affinities in the midrange, K(D) 5 and 85 nM, showed specificity only when CD8 was absent or blocked, while the variant TCRs with affinities in the intermediate range-with K(D) values of 450 nM and 4 microM-demonstrated Ag-specific recognition. Although the biological activity of these two relatively low-affinity TCRs was comparable to wild-type reactivity in CD8(+) T cells, introduction of these TCR dramatically increased the reactivity of CD4(+) T cells to tumor cell lines.

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