Infusing virus-specific T-cells is effective treatment for rare Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated post-transplant 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 2-3 months of in vitro culture and favour outgrowth of T-cells targeting viral antigens expressed within EBV+ lymphomas but not 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 HLA A*1101-restricted TCR, which would be widely applicable since 40% of NPC patients carry this HLA allele. Studying both wild-type and modified forms we have optimised expression of the TCR and demonstrated high avidity antigen-specific function (proliferation, cytotoxicity, cytokine release) in both CD8+ and CD4+ T-cells. The engineered T-cells also inhibited LMP2+ epithelial tumour growth in a mouse model. Furthermore, transduced T-cells from patients with advanced NPC lysed LMP2-expressing NPC cell lines. Therefore, using this approach, within a few days large numbers of high avidity LMP2-specific T-cells can be reliably generated to treat NPC, providing an ideal clinical setting to test TCR gene transfer without the risk of autoimmunity through targeting self-antigens.
- Human Leukocyte Antigen
- Epstein-Barr virus-specific T-cell receptor gene
- Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
- Cancer immunology