Infusing virus-specific T cells is effective treatment for rare Epstein–Barr virus (EBV)–associated posttransplant lymphomas, and more limited success has been reported using this approach to treat a far more common EBV-associated malignancy, nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). However, current approaches using EBV-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines to reactivate EBV-specific T cells for infusion take 2 to 3 months of in vitro culture and favor outgrowth of T cells targeting viral antigens expressed within EBV+ lymphomas, but not in NPC. Here, we explore T-cell receptor (TCR) gene transfer to rapidly and reliably generate T cells specific for the NPC-associated viral protein LMP2. We cloned a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) A*1101-restricted TCR, which would be widely applicable because 40% of NPC patients carry this HLA allele. Studying both the wild-type and modified forms, we have optimized expression of the TCR and demonstrated high-avidity antigen-specific function (proliferation, cytotoxicity, and cytokine release) in both CD8+ and CD4+ T cells. The engineered T cells also inhibited LMP2+ epithelial tumor growth in a mouse model. Furthermore, transduced T cells from patients with advanced NPC lysed LMP2-expressing NPC cell lines. Using this approach, within a few days large numbers of high-avidity LMP2-specific T cells can be generated reliably to treat NPC, thus providing an ideal clinical setting to test TCR gene transfer without the risk of autoimmunity through targeting self-antigens. Cancer Immunol Res; 1–10. ©2015 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Immunology Research Online (http://cancerimmunolres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received October 30, 2014.
- Revision received February 11, 2015.
- Accepted February 12, 2015.
- ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.