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J Hepatol. 2011 Jul;55(1):103-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2010.10.025. Epub 2010 Nov 23.

Engineering virus-specific T cells that target HBV infected hepatocytes and hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines.

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Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Agency for Science Technology and Research, Singapore.



Virus-specific T cells capable of controlling HBV and eliminating hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) expressing HBV antigens are deleted or dysfunctional in patients with chronic HBV or HBV-related HCC. The goal of this study was to determine if T cell receptor (TCR) gene transfer can reconstitute HBV-specific T cell immunity in lymphocytes of chronic HBV patients and investigate whether HCC cells with natural HBV-DNA integration can be recognized by genetically modified T cells.


We used vector-mediated gene transfer to introduce HLA-A2-restricted, HBV-specific TCRs into T cells of chronic HBV as well as HBV-related HCC patients.


The introduced TCRs were expressed on the cell surface, evidenced by Vβ and pentamer staining. TCR transduced T cells produced IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-2, and lysed HBV infected hepatocyte-like cell lines. Furthermore, HCC cell lines with natural HBV-DNA integration could be recognized by HBV-specific TCR-re-directed T cells.


TCR re-directed HBV-specific T cells generated from PBMC of chronic HBV and HBV-related HCC patients were multifunctional and capable of recognizing HBV-infected cells and HCC tumor cells expressing viral antigens from naturally integrated HBV DNA. These genetically modified T cells could be used to reconstitute virus-specific T cell immunity in chronic HBV patients and target tumors in HBV-related HCC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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