Research News

The latest in research findings utilizing cytometry across basic research and clinical applications. Research will be updated regularly to provide a resource for cytometry users to keep themselves informed of the latest advances in the field.

Optimizing T‐cell receptor avidity with somatic hypermutation

Adoptive transfer of T cells that have been genetically modified to express an antitumor T‐cell receptor (TCR) is a potent immunotherapy, but only if TCR avidity is sufficiently high. Endogenous TCRs specific to shared (self) tumor‐associated antigens (TAAs) have low affinity due to central tolerance. Therefore, for effective therapy, anti‐TAA TCRs with higher and optimal avidity must be generated. Here, we describe a new in vitro system for directed evolution of TCR avidity using somatic hypermutation (SHM), a mechanism used in nature by B cells for antibody optimization. We identified 44 point mutations to the Pmel‐1 TCR, specific for the H‐2Db‐gp10025‐33 melanoma antigen. Primary T cells transduced with TCRs containing two or three of these mutations had enhanced activity in vitro. Furthermore, the triple‐mutant TCR improved in vivo therapy of tumor‐bearing mice, which exhibited improved survival, smaller tumors and delayed or no relapse. TCR avidity maturation by SHM may be an effective strategy to improve cancer immunotherapy.

This article can be viewed on Wiley Online Library.