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Cancer Res. 2017 Jul 1;77(13):3577-3590. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-1922. Epub 2017 May 22.

Chimeric PD-1:28 Receptor Upgrades Low-Avidity T cells and Restores Effector Function of Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes for Adoptive Cell Therapy.

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Institute of Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Center Munich, Munich, Germany.
Immunoanalytics Research Group Tissue Control of Immunocytes & Core Facility, Helmholtz Center Munich, Munich, Germany.
Institute of Immunology, Charité, Campus Buch, Berlin, Germany.
Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), Berlin, Germany.
Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich, Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik IV, Munich, Germany.
Department of Biology II and Center for Integrated Protein Science Munich (CIPSM), Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich, Munich, Germany.
Medigene Immunotherapies GmbH, Munich, Germany.
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin, Germany.
Institute of Biology, Humboldt University Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.
Institute of Molecular Immunology, Helmholtz Center Munich, Munich, Germany.


Inherent intermediate- to low-affinity T-cell receptors (TCR) that develop during the natural course of immune responses may not allow sufficient activation for tumor elimination, making the majority of T cells suboptimal for adoptive T-cell therapy (ATT). TCR affinity enhancement has been implemented to provide stronger T-cell activity but carries the risk of creating undesired cross-reactivity leading to potential serious adverse effects in clinical application. We demonstrate here that engineering of low-avidity T cells recognizing a naturally processed and presented tumor-associated antigen with a chimeric PD-1:28 receptor increases effector function to levels seen with high-avidity T cells of identical specificity. Upgrading the function of low-avidity T cells without changing the TCR affinity will allow a large arsenal of low-avidity T cells previously thought to be therapeutically inefficient to be considered for ATT. PD-1:28 engineering reinstated Th1 function in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes that had been functionally disabled in the human renal cell carcinoma environment without unleashing undesired Th2 cytokines or IL10. Involved mechanisms may be correlated to restoration of ERK and AKT signaling pathways. In mouse tumor models of ATT, PD-1:28 engineering enabled low-avidity T cells to proliferate stronger and prevented PD-L1 upregulation and Th2 polarization in the tumor milieu. Engineered T cells combined with checkpoint blockade secreted significantly more IFNγ compared with T cells without PD-1:28, suggesting a beneficial combination with checkpoint blockade therapy or other therapeutic strategies. Altogether, the supportive effects of PD-1:28 engineering on T-cell function make it an attractive tool for ATT. Cancer Res; 77(13); 3577-90. ©2017 AACR.

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