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Gene Ther. 2009 May;16(5):596-604. doi: 10.1038/gt.2008.189. Epub 2009 Jan 22.

Transfer of mRNA encoding recombinant immunoreceptors reprograms CD4+ and CD8+ T cells for use in the adoptive immunotherapy of cancer.

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Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany.


Human T lymphocytes can be redirected with a new defined specificity by expression of a chimeric T-cell receptor (immunoreceptor) for the use in adoptive immunotherapy of cancer. Whereas standard procedures use retroviral gene transduction to constitutively express immunoreceptors in T cells, we here explored for the first time mRNA electroporation to achieve transient immunoreceptor expression, and thereby minimizing the risk of persistence of potential autoaggression. CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells were efficiently transfected with immunoreceptors specific for ErbB2 and CEA. The immunoreceptor expression was transient with half-maximal expression at day 2 and no detectable immunoreceptor expression at day 9 after electroporation. Immunoreceptor-transfected T cells were specifically activated upon coincubation with ErbB2(+) and CEA(+) tumor cells, respectively, resulting in secretion of interferon-gamma (IFNgamma), interleukin-2 (IL-2), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha). Furthermore, immunoreceptor-transfected CD8(+) T cells specifically lysed ErbB2(+) and CEA(+) tumor cells, respectively. The RNA-transfected T cells retained their cytotoxic function after 2 days of activation and exhibited cytolytic activities like retrovirally transduced T cells. RNA electroporation of T cells thereby provides a versatile tool for transient immunoreceptor expression, which may be of advantage in avoiding the persistence of unintended autoaggression.

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