Enhanced functionality of T cell receptor-redirected T cells is defined by the transgene cassette

J Mol Med (Berl). 2008 May;86(5):573-83. doi: 10.1007/s00109-008-0317-3. Epub 2008 Mar 12.


The transfer of T cell receptor (TCR) genes allows to endow T cells with a new antigen specificity. For clinical applications of TCR-redirected T cells, efficient functional expression of the transgenic TCR is a key prerequisite. Here, we compared the influence of the transgene cassette on the expression and function of the murine TCR P14 (recognizing a LCMV gp33 epitope) and the human TCR WT-1 (recognizing an epitope of the tumor-associated antigen WT-1). We constructed different vectors, in which TCRalpha- and beta-chain genes were either (a) linked by an internal ribosomal entry site (IRES), (b) combined by a 2A peptide, or (c) introduced into two individual retroviral constructs. While in a TCR-deficient T cell line TCR P14 was expressed equally well by all constructs, we found that IRES- but not 2A-employing TCR expression is hampered in a TCR-bearing cell line and in primary murine T cells where the transgenic TCR has to compete with endogenous TCR chains. Similarly, 2A-linked TCR WT-1 genes yielded highest expression and function as measured by tetramer binding and peptide-specific IFN-gamma secretion. Differences in expression were independent of copy number integration as shown by real-time PCR. Thus, linking TCRalpha- and beta-chain genes by a 2A peptide is superior to an IRES for TCR expression and T cell function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Gene Dosage
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional*
  • Peptides / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics*
  • Retroviridae
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Transgenes / genetics*


  • Peptides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell