Cell-based antitumor immunity is driven by CD8+ cytotoxic T cells bearing TCR that recognize specific tumor-associated peptides bound to class I MHC molecules. Of several cellular proteins involved in T cell:target-cell interaction, the TCR determines specificity of binding; however, the relative amount of its contribution to cellular avidity remains unknown. To study the relationship between TCR affinity and cellular avidity, with the intent of identifying optimal TCR for gene therapy, we derived 24 MART-1:27-35 (MART-1) melanoma Ag-reactive tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) clones from the tumors of five patients. These MART-1-reactive clones displayed a wide variety of cellular avidities. α and β TCR genes were isolated from these clones, and TCR RNA was electroporated into the same non-MART-1-reactive allogeneic donor PBMC and TIL. TCR recipient cells gained the ability to recognize both MART-1 peptide and MART-1-expressing tumors in vitro, with avidities that closely corresponded to the original TCR clones (p = 0.018-0.0003). Clone DMF5, from a TIL infusion that mediated tumor regression clinically, showed the highest avidity against MART-1 expressing tumors in vitro, both endogenously in the TIL clone, and after RNA electroporation into donor T cells. Thus, we demonstrated that the TCR appeared to be the core determinant of MART-1 Ag-specific cellular avidity in these activated T cells and that nonreactive PBMC or TIL could be made tumor-reactive with a specific and predetermined avidity. We propose that inducing expression of this highly avid TCR in patient PBMC has the potential to induce tumor regression, as an "off-the-shelf" reagent for allogeneic melanoma patient gene therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy