NKG2D is an activating cell-surface receptor expressed on natural killer (NK) cells and some T-cell subsets. Its ligands are primarily expressed on tumor cells. The aim of this study was to determine whether chimeric NK-receptor-bearing T cells would directly kill tumor cells and lead to induction of host immunity against tumors. Chimeric NK receptors were produced by linking NKG2D or DNAX activating protein of 10 kDa (Dap10) to the cytoplasmic portion of the CD3zeta chain. Our results showed that chimeric (ch) NKG2D-bearing T cells responded to NKG2D-ligand-bearing tumor cells (RMA/Rae-1beta, EG7) but not to wild-type tumor cells (RMA). This response was dependent upon ligand expression on the target cells but not on expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules, and the response could be blocked by anti-NKG2D antibodies. These T cells produced large amounts of T-helper 1 (Th1) cytokines and proinflammatory chemokines and killed ligand-expressing tumor cells. Adoptive transfer of chNKG2D-bearing T cells inhibited RMA/Rae-1beta tumor growth in vivo. Moreover, mice that had remained tumor-free were resistant to subsequent challenge with the wild-type RMA tumor cells, suggesting the generation of immunity against other tumor antigens. Taken together, our findings indicate that modification of T cells with chimeric NKG2D receptors represents a promising approach for immunotherapy against cancer.
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