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Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Aug 1;15(15):4857-66. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-2810. Epub 2009 Jul 28.

2B4 (CD244) signaling by recombinant antigen-specific chimeric receptors costimulates natural killer cell activation to leukemia and neuroblastoma cells.

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Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, University Children's Hospital Muenster, Muenster, Germany.



Novel natural killer (NK) cell-directed strategies in cancer immunotherapy aim at specifically modulating the balance between NK cell receptor signals toward tumor-specific activation. The signaling lymphocyte activation molecule-related receptor 2B4 (CD244) is an important regulator of NK cell activation. We investigated whether 2B4-enhanced activation signals can redirect the cytolytic function of human NK cells to NK cell-resistant and autologous leukemia and tumor targets.


In vitro-stimulated NK cells from healthy donors and pediatric leukemia patients were gene modified with CD19 or G(D2)-specific chimeric receptors containing either the T-cell receptor zeta or 2B4 endodomain alone or combined.


Chimeric 2B4 signaling alone failed to induce interleukin-2 receptor up-regulation and cytokine secretion but triggered a specific degranulation response. Integration of the 2B4 endodomain into T-cell receptor zeta chimeric receptors significantly enhanced all aspects of the NK cell activation response to antigen-expressing leukemia or neuroblastoma cells, including CD25 up-regulation, secretion of IFN-gamma and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, release of cytolytic granules, and growth inhibition, and overcame NK cell resistance of autologous leukemia cells while maintaining antigen specificity.


These data indicate that the 2B4 receptor has a potent costimulatory effect in NK cells. Antigen-specific 2B4zeta-expressing NK cells may be a powerful new tool for adoptive immunotherapy of leukemia and other malignancies.

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