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1.  A cytokine cocktail directly modulates the phenotype of DC-enriched anti-tumor T cells to convey potent anti-tumor activities in a murine model 
Cancer immunology, immunotherapy : CII  2013;62(11):10.1007/s00262-013-1464-0.
Adoptive cell transfer (ACT) using ex vivo-expanded anti-tumor T cells such as tumor-infiltrated lymphocytes or genetically engineered T cells potently eradicates established tumors. However, these two approaches possess obvious limitations. Therefore, we established a novel methodology using total tumor RNA (ttRNA) to prime dendritic cells (DC) as a platform for the ex vivo generation of anti-tumor T cells. We evaluated the antigen-specific expansion and recognition of T cells generated by the ttRNA–DC–T platform, and directly modulated the differentiation status of these ex vivo-expanded T cells with a cytokine cocktail. Furthermore, we evaluated the persistence and in vivo anti-tumor efficacy of these T cells through murine xenograft and syngeneic tumor models. During ex vivo culture, IL-2 preferentially expanded CD4 subset, while IL-7 enabled homeostatic proliferation from the original precursors. T cells tended to lose CD62L during ex vivo culture using IL-2; however, IL-12 could maintain high levels of CD62L by increasing expression on effector T cells (Tem). In addition, we validated that OVA RNA–DC only selectively expanded T cells in an antigen-specific manner. A cytokine cocktail excluding the use of IL-2 greatly increased CD62Lhigh T cells which specifically recognized tumor cells, engrafted better in a xenograft model and exhibited superior anti-tumor activities in a syngeneic intracranial model. ACT using the ex vivo ttRNA–DC–T platform in conjunction with a cytokine cocktail generated potent CD62Lhigh anti-tumor T cells and imposes a novel T cell-based therapeutic with the potential to treat brain tumors and other cancers.
PMCID: PMC3850168  PMID: 23982483
Central memory T cells (Tcm); CD62L; Dendritic cells (DC); Intracranial cerebellar (IC) tumor; Adoptive cell transfer (ACT); Immunotherapy
2.  B-cell Maturation Antigen is a Promising Target for Adoptive T-cell Therapy of Multiple Myeloma 
Multiple myeloma (MM) is a usually incurable malignancy of plasma cells. New therapies are urgently needed for MM. Adoptive transfer of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-expressing T cells is a promising new therapy for hematologic malignancies, but an ideal target antigen for CAR-expressing T cell therapies of MM has not been identified. B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) is a protein that has been reported to be selectively expressed by B-lineage cells including MM cells. Our goal was to determine if BCMA is a suitable target for CAR-expressing T cells.
Experimental Design
We conducted an assessment of BCMA expression in normal human tissues and MM cells by flow cytometry, quantitative PCR, and immunohistochemistry. We designed and tested novel anti-BCMA CARs.
BCMA had a restricted RNA expression pattern. Except for expression on plasma cells, BCMA protein was not detected in normal human tissues. BCMA was not detected on primary human CD34+ hematopoietic cells. We detected uniform BCMA cell-surface expression on primary MM cells from 5 of 5 patients. We designed the first anti-BCMA CARs to be reported, and we transduced T cells with lentiviral vectors encoding these CARs. The CARs gave T cells the ability to specifically recognize BCMA. The anti-BCMA-CAR-transduced T cells exhibited BCMA-specific functions including cytokine production, proliferation, cytotoxicity, and in vivo tumor eradication. Importantly, anti-BCMA-CAR-transduced T cells recognized and killed primary MM cells.
BCMA is a suitable target for CAR-expressing T cells, and adoptive transfer of anti-BCMA-CAR-expressing T cells is a promising new strategy for treating MM.
PMCID: PMC3630268  PMID: 23344265
multiple myeloma; chimeric antigen receptor; adoptive T cell therapy; B-cell maturation antigen; immunotherapy
3.  EGFRvIII-Specific Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells Migrate to and Kill Tumor Deposits Infiltrating the Brain Parenchyma in an Invasive Xenograft Model of Glioblastoma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94281.
Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common primary malignant brain tumor in adults and is uniformly lethal. T-cell-based immunotherapy offers a promising platform for treatment given its potential to specifically target tumor tissue while sparing the normal brain. However, the diffuse and infiltrative nature of these tumors in the brain parenchyma may pose an exceptional hurdle to successful immunotherapy in patients. Areas of invasive tumor are thought to reside behind an intact blood brain barrier, isolating them from effective immunosurveillance and thereby predisposing the development of "immunologically silent" tumor peninsulas. Therefore, it remains unclear if adoptively transferred T cells can migrate to and mediate regression in areas of invasive GBM. One barrier has been the lack of a preclinical mouse model that accurately recapitulates the growth patterns of human GBM in vivo. Here, we demonstrate that D-270 MG xenografts exhibit the classical features of GBM and produce the diffuse and invasive tumors seen in patients. Using this model, we designed experiments to assess whether T cells expressing third-generation chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) targeting the tumor-specific mutation of the epidermal growth factor receptor, EGFRvIII, would localize to and treat invasive intracerebral GBM. EGFRvIII-targeted CAR (EGFRvIII+ CAR) T cells demonstrated in vitro EGFRvIII antigen-specific recognition and reactivity to the D-270 MG cell line, which naturally expresses EGFRvIII. Moreover, when administered systemically, EGFRvIII+ CAR T cells localized to areas of invasive tumor, suppressed tumor growth, and enhanced survival of mice with established intracranial D-270 MG tumors. Together, these data demonstrate that systemically administered T cells are capable of migrating to the invasive edges of GBM to mediate antitumor efficacy and tumor regression.
PMCID: PMC3983153  PMID: 24722266
4.  A Simple and Effective Method to Generate Lentiviral Vectors for Ex Vivo Gene Delivery to Mature Human Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes 
Human Gene Therapy Methods  2012;23(2):73-83.
Human ex vivo gene therapy protocols have been used successfully to treat a variety of genetic disorders, infectious diseases, and cancer. Murine oncoretroviruses (specifically, gammaretroviruses) have served as the primary gene delivery vehicles for these trials. However, in some cases, such vectors have been associated with insertional mutagenesis. As a result, alternative vector platforms such as lentiviral vectors (LVVs) are being developed. LVVs may provide advantages compared with gammaretroviral vectors, including the ability to transduce large numbers of nondividing cells, resistance to gene silencing, and a potentially safer integration profile. The aim of this study was to develop a simplified process for the rapid production of clinical-grade LVVs. To that end, we used a self-inactivating bicistronic LVV encoding an MART (melanoma antigen recognized by T cells)-1-reactive T cell receptor containing oPRE, an optimized and truncated version of woodchuck hepatitis virus posttranslational regulatory element (wPRE). Using our simplified clinical production process, 293T cells were transiently transfected in roller bottles. The LVV supernatant was collected, treated with Benzonase, and clarified by modified step filtration. LVV produced in this manner exhibited titers and a biosafety profile similar to those of cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices) LVVs previously manufactured at the Indiana University Vector Production Facility in support of a phase I/II clinical trial. We describe a simple, efficient, and low-cost method for the production of clinical-grade LVV for ex vivo gene therapy protocols.
Yang and colleagues describe a simple, efficient and low-cost process for the rapid production of clinical-grade lentiviral vectors (LVVs). 293T cells were transiently transfected in roller bottles, and supernatants were subsequently treated with Benzonase and clarified by modified step-filtration. LVV titers and biosafety profiles were similar to those of LVVs previously manufactured in support of a phase I/II clinical trial.
PMCID: PMC3847989  PMID: 22515320
5.  Clinical-scale lentiviral vector transduction of PBL for TCR gene therapy and potential for expression in less differentiated cells 
In human gene therapy applications, lentiviral vectors may have advantages over gamma-retroviral vectors because of their ability to transduce non-dividing cells, their resistance to gene silencing, and a lack of integration site preference. In this study, we utilized VSV-G pseudotype third generation lentiviral vectors harboring specific anti-tumor T-cell receptor (TCR) to establish clinical-scale lentiviral transduction of PBL. Spinoculation (1000 × g, 32°C for 2 h) in the presence of protamine sulfate represents the most efficient and economical approach to transduce a large number of PBLs compared to RetroNectin-based methods. Up to 20 million cells per well of a 6-well plate were efficiently transduced and underwent an average 50-fold expansion in two weeks. TCR transduced PBL mediated specific anti-tumor activities including IFN-γ release and cell lysis. Compared to gamma-retroviral vectors, the TCR transgene could be preferentially expressed on a less-differentiated cell population.
PMCID: PMC3399689  PMID: 18833004
Lentivirus; T-cell receptor; Adoptive immunotherapy; Gene therapy
6.  Irradiation enhances human T cell function by up-regulating CD70 expression on antigen-presenting cells in vitro 
In addition to the direct killing of tumor cells, radiation therapy can alter the balance of immune cells in vivo due to the differential radio-sensitivity of different cell types. The addition of adjuvant radiation therapy prior to adoptive cell transfer therapy has been shown to enhance antitumor responses in both mouse models and clinical trials. The current study examines the effects of in vitro irradiation on the phenotype and function of human antigen-presenting cells. The results indicated that irradiation up-regulated CD70 expression on both B cells and mature dendritic cells (DCs). Expression of CD70 on mature DCs was enhanced in a dose-dependent manner, while under the same conditions, no significant up-regulation of CD80, CD86, or CD40 was observed. The levels of expression of CD70 induced on mature DC by irradiation correlated highly with the ability of those cells to stimulate T cell proliferation and IFN-γ production. Furthermore, significant reductions in T-cell proliferation and IFN-γ production were seen when CD70 expression on DCs was partially reduced using shRNA, as well as when DCs were incubated with a blocking anti-CD70 antibody. Radiation therapy may therefore enhance T cell activation in vivo through the CD27 pathway by virtue of its ability to up-regulate the expression of CD70 on antigen-presenting cells.
PMCID: PMC3094909  PMID: 21499130
radiation; TBI; CD70; CD27; mature human DCs; co-stimulation; human T cells; adoptive cell transfer; cancer immunotherapy
7.  Genetic engineering of murine CD8+ and CD4+ T cells for pre-clinical adoptive immunotherapy studies 
T-cell-receptor (TCR) gene therapy enables for the rapid creation of antigen-specific T cells from mice of any strain and represents a valuable tool for pre-clinical immunotherapy studies. Here, we describe the superiority of gamma-retroviral vectors compared to lentiviral vectors for transduction of murine T cells and surprisingly illustrate robust gene-transfer into phenotypically naïve/memory-stem cell (CD62Lhi/CD44low) and central memory (CD62Lhi/CD44hi) CD8+ T cells using murine-stem-cell-based gamma-retroviral vectors (MSGV1). We created MSGV1 vectors for a MHC-class I restricted T-cell receptor (TCR) specific for the melanocyte-differentiation antigen, gp100 (MSGV1-pmel-1), and a MHC-class II restricted TCR specific for tyrosinase-related-protein-1 (MSGV1-TRP-1), and found that robust gene expression required codon optimization of TCR sequences for the pmel-1 TCR. To test for functionality, we adoptively transferred TCR-engineered T cells into mice bearing B16 melanomas and observed delayed growth of established tumors with pmel-1TCR engineered CD8+ T cells and significant tumor regression with TRP-1 TCR transduced CD4+ T cells. We simultaneously created lentiviral vectors encoding the pmel-1TCR, but found that these vectors mediated low TCR expression in murine T cells, but robust gene expression in other murine and human cell lines. These results indicate that preclinical murine models of adoptive immunotherapies are more practical using gamma-retroviral rather than lentiviral vectors.
PMCID: PMC3100770  PMID: 21499127
8.  The Shedding of CD62L (L-Selectin) Regulates the Acquisition of Lytic Activity in Human Tumor Reactive T Lymphocytes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22560.
CD62L/L-selectin is a marker found on naïve T cells and further distinguishes central memory (Tcm, CD62L+) from effector memory (Tem, CD62L−) T cells. The regulation of CD62L plays a pivotal role in controlling the traffic of T lymphocytes to and from peripheral lymph nodes. CD62L is shed from the cell membrane following T cell activation, however, the physiological significance of this event remains to be elucidated. In this study, we utilized in vitro generated anti-tumor antigen T cells and melanoma lines as a model to evaluate the dynamics of CD62L shedding and expression of CD107a as a marker of lytic activity. Upon encounter, with matched tumor lines, antigen reactive T cells rapidly lose CD62L expression and this was associated with the acquisition of CD107a. By CD62L ELISA, we confirmed that this transition was mediated by the shedding of CD62L when T cells encountered specific tumor antigen. The introduction of a shedding resistant mutant of CD62L into the tumor antigen-reactive T cell line JKF6 impaired CD107a acquisition following antigen recognition and this was correlated with decreased lytic activity as measured by 51Cr release assays. The linkage of the shedding of CD62L from the surface of anti-tumor T cells and acquisition of lytic activity, suggests a new function for CD62L in T cell effector functions and anti-tumor activity.
PMCID: PMC3145643  PMID: 21829468
9.  In vitro generated anti-tumor T lymphocytes exhibit distinct subsets mimicking in vivo antigen experienced cells 
The T lymphocyte pool can be sub-divided into naïve (Tn), effector memory (Tem), and central memory (Tcm) T cells. In this study, we characterized in vitro short-term cultured anti-tumor human T lymphocytes generated by lentiviral transduction with an anti-tumor antigen TCR vector. Within two weeks of in vitro culture, the cultured T cells showed a Tcm-like phenotype illustrated by a high percentage of CD62L and CD45RO cells. When the cells were sorted into populations that were CD45RO+/CD62L− (Tem), CD45RO+/CD62L+ (Tcm) or CD45ROlow/CD62L+ (Tn) and co-cultured with antigen-matched tumor lines, the magnitude of cytokine release from these populations for IFNγ (TnTcm>Tem) mimicked the types of immune cell responses observed in vivo. In comparing cell-mediated effector function, Tn were found to be deficient (relative to Tcm and Tem) in the ability to form conjugates with tumor cells and subsequent lytic activity. Moreover, analysis of the gene expression profiles of the in vitro cultured and sorted T cell populations also demonstrated patterns consistent with their in vivo counterparts. When Tcm and Tem were tested for the ability to survive in vivo, Tcm displayed significantly increased engraftment and persistence in NOD/SCID/γc−/− mice. In general, a large percentage of in vitro generated anti-tumor T lymphocytes mimic a Tcm-like phenotype (based on phenotype, effector function, and increased persistence in vivo), which suggests that these Tcm-like cultured T cells may be optimal for adoptive immunotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3080434  PMID: 21305379
Gene therapy; Lentiviral vector; T cell receptor; Central memory cells; Effector memory cells; Tumor immunity
10.  Lentiviral Vector Design for Optimal T Cell Receptor Gene Expression in the Transduction of Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes and Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes 
Human Gene Therapy  2009;20(6):630-640.
Lentiviral vectors containing promoters of distinct origins, that is, strong viral promoters (cytomegalovirus [CMV] and murine stem cell virus [MSCV]), a cellular promoter (phosphoglycerate kinase [PGK]), and two composite promoters (CAG [a composite promoter sequence comprised of the CMV enhancer and portions of the chicken β-actin promoter and the rabbit β-globin gene] and SV40/CD43), were used to evaluate green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter gene expression in human primary peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). In PBLs, vectors containing the MSCV promoter were found to be optimal for expression in both minimally stimulated and highly activated lymphocytes. The stability of gene expression was monitored for up to 7 weeks in culture and the MSCV promoter-containing vector was found to be comparable to the cellular PGK promoter-containing vector. The MSCV promoter-containing lentiviral vector was also the most active in transduced TILs and these cells retained biological activity as measured by antimelanoma antigen reactivity. Using the knowledge gained in comparing individual promoters, a series of two-gene-containing lentiviral vectors was constructed in an attempt to produce the α and β chains of antitumor antigen T cell receptors (TCRs). Dual-promoter or internal ribosome entry site (IRES)-containing vector designs were evaluated and found to be unable to produce both chains of the TCR in amounts that led to significant biological activity. In contrast, if the α and β chains were linked by a 2A ribosomal skip peptide, both proper TCR chain pairing and biologically activity were observed. This paper emphasizes the need to optimize both promoter function and protein synthesis in constructs that require stoichiometric production of multiple protein subunits.
PMCID: PMC2828626  PMID: 19265475
11.  The Multimerization of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type I Vif Protein 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2000;276(7):4889-4893.
The Vif (virion infectivity factor protein of human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV-1) is essential for viral replication in vivo and productive infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells, macrophages, and H9 T-cells. However, the molecular mechanism(s) of Vif remains unknown and needs to be further determined. In this report, we show that, like many other proteins encoded by HIV-1, Vif proteins possess a strong tendency toward self-association. In relatively native conditions, Vif proteins formed multimers in vitro, including dimers, trimers, or tetramers. Through in vivo binding assays such as coimmunoprecipitation and the mammalian two-hybrid system, we also demonstrated that Vif proteins could interact with each other within a cell, indicating that the multimerization of Vif proteins is not simply due to fortuitous aggregation. Further studies indicated that the domain affecting Vif self-association is located at the C terminus of this protein, especially the proline-enriched 151–164 region. Moreover, we found that a Vif mutant with deletion at amino acid 151–164 was unable to rescue the infectivity of vif-defective viruses generated from H9 T-cells, suggesting that the multimerization of Vif proteins could be important for Vif function in the viral life cycle. Our studies identified a new feature of Vif and should accelerate our understanding of its role in HIV-1 pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC1350968  PMID: 11071884
12.  Mice Deficient for Testis-Brain RNA-Binding Protein Exhibit a Coordinate Loss of TRAX, Reduced Fertility, Altered Gene Expression in the Brain, and Behavioral Changes 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(18):6419-6434.
Testis-brain RNA-binding protein (TB-RBP), the mouse orthologue of the human protein Translin, is a widely expressed and highly conserved protein with proposed functions in chromosomal translocations, mitotic cell division, and mRNA transport and storage. To better define the biological roles of TB-RBP, we generated mice lacking TB-RBP. Matings between heterozygotes gave rise to viable, apparently normal homozygous mutant mice at a normal Mendelian ratio. The TB-RBP-related and -interacting protein Translin-associated factor X was reduced to 50% normal levels in heterozygotes and was absent in TB-RBP-null animals. The null mice were 10 to 30% smaller than their wild-type or heterozygote littermates at birth and remained so to about 6 to 9 months of age, showed normal B- and T-cell development, and accumulated visceral fat. TB-RBP-null male mice were fertile and sired offspring but had abnormal seminiferous tubules and reduced sperm counts. Null female mice were subfertile and had reduced litter sizes. Microarray analysis of total brain RNA from null and wild-type mice revealed an altered gene expression profile with the up-regulation of 14 genes and the down-regulation of 217 genes out of 12,473 probe sets. Numerous neurotransmitter receptors and ion channels, including γ-aminobutyric acid A receptor α1 and glutamate receptor α3, were strongly down-regulated. Behavioral abnormalities were also seen. Compared to littermates, the TB-RBP-null mice appeared docile and exhibited reduced Rota-Rod performance.
PMCID: PMC193699  PMID: 12944470
13.  Specific Double-Stranded RNA Interference in Undifferentiated Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2001;21(22):7807-7816.
Specific mRNA degradation mediated by double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) interference (RNAi) is a powerful way of suppressing gene expression in plants, nematodes, and fungal, insect, and protozoan systems. However, only a few cases of RNAi have been reported in mammalian systems. Here, we investigated the feasibility of the RNAi strategy in several mammalian cells by using the enhanced green fluorescent protein gene as a target, either by in situ production of dsRNA from transient transfection of a plasmid harboring a 547-bp inverted repeat or by direct transfection of dsRNA made by in vitro transcription. Several mammalian cells including differentiated embryonic stem (ES) cells did not exhibit specific RNAi in transient transfection. This long dsRNA, however, was capable of inducing a sequence-specific RNAi for the episomal and chromosomal target gene in undifferentiated ES cells. dsRNA at 8.3 nM decreased the cognate gene expression up to 70%. However, RNAi activity was not permanent because it was more pronounced in early time points and diminished 5 days after transfection. Thus, undifferentiated ES cells may lack the interferon response, similar to mouse embryos and oocytes. Regardless of their apparent RNAi activity, however, cytoplasmic extracts from mammalian cells produced a small RNA of 21 to 22 nucleotides from the long dsRNA. Our results suggest that mammalian cells may possess RNAi activity but nonspecific activation of the interferon response by longer dsRNA may mask the specific RNAi. The findings offer an opportunity to use dsRNA for inhibition of gene expression in ES cells to study differentiation.
PMCID: PMC99950  PMID: 11604515
14.  Partial Rescue of the Vif-Negative Phenotype of Mutant Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Strains from Nonpermissive Cells by Intravirion Reverse Transcription 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(6):2594-2602.
Virion infectivity factor (Vif) is a protein encoded by human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV-1) and is essential for viral replication. It appears that Vif functions in the virus-producing cells and affects viral assembly. Viruses with defects in the vif gene (vif−) generated from the “nonpermissive cells” are not able to complete reverse transcription. In previous studies, it was demonstrated that defects in the vif gene also affect endogenous reverse transcription (ERT) when mild detergents were utilized to permeabilize the viral envelope. In this report, we demonstrate that defects in the vif gene have much less of an effect on ERT if detergent is not used. When ERT was driven by addition of deoxyribonucleoside triphosphates (dNTPs) at high concentrations, certain levels of plus-strand viral DNA could also be achieved. Interestingly, if vif− viruses, generated from nonpermissive cells and harboring large quantities of viral DNA generated by ERT, were allowed to infect permissive cells, they could partially bypass the block at intracellular reverse transcription, through which vif− viruses without dNTP treatment could not pass. Consequently, viral infectivity can be partially rescued from the vif− phenotype. Based on our observations, we suggest that vif defects may cause the reverse transcription complex (RT complex) to become sensitive to mild detergent treatments within HIV-1 virions and become unstable in the target cells, such that the process of reverse transcription cannot be efficiently supported. Further dissection of RT complexes of vif− viruses may be key to uncovering the molecular mechanism(s) of Vif in HIV-1 pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC111747  PMID: 10684273

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