BACKGROUND: Tumors and viruses have developed many mechanisms to evade the immune system, including down-regulation of target antigens and MHC molecules. These immune escape mechanisms may be able to be circumvented by adoptively transferring T cells engineered to express two different T cell receptors, each specific for a different antigen or MHC restriction molecule. METHODS: PBMC from the blood of normal healthy donors were stimulated for three days with an antigenic peptide from cytomegalovirus (CMV) pp65. These CMV reactive cultures were transduced with a encoding the TIL 5 T cell receptor (TCR) that mediates recognition of the dominant epitope of the melanoma antigen MART-1. Following selection for transduced cells, the cultures were evaluated for recognition of CMV pp65 and MART-1 expressing targets. RESULTS: We were able to rapidly create bifunctional T cells capable of recognizing both CMV pp65 and MART-1 using a combination of HLA-A2 tetramer staining and intracellular staining for interferon-gamma. These bifunctional T cells were sensitive to very low levels of antigen, recognize MART-1+ tumor cells, and maintained their bifunctionality for over 40 days in culture. CONCLUSION: Bifunctional T cells can be engineered by transducing short term peptide stimulated T cell cultures. These bifunctional T cells may be more effective in treating patients with cancer or chronic virus infections because they would reduce the possibility of disease progression due to antigen and/or MHC loss variants.
Langerman, A., Callender, G. G., & Nishimura, M. I. (2004). Retroviral transduction of peptide stimulated t cells can generate dual t cell receptor-expressing (bifunctional) t cells reactive with two defined antigens. Journal of Translational Medicine, 2. https://doi.org/10.1186/1479-5876-2-42