Purpose: T-cell receptor (TCR) variable Vα and Vβ gene diversity is a surrogate biomarker for the therapeutic potential of adoptive immunotherapy and cellular immunity. Therefore, creating a straightforward, rapid, sensitive, and reliable method to view the global changes of both TCRVα and Vβ transcripts in heterogeneous populations of T cells is appealing.
Experimental design: We designed a "direct TCR expression assay" (DTEA) using a panel of customized bar-coded probes that simultaneously detects and quantifies 45 Vα and 46 Vβ transcripts in a nonenzymatic digital multiplexed assay from a small number of cells (10(4) cells) or as little as 100 ng of total RNA.
Results: We evaluated DTEA on total RNA samples of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and peripheral blood obtained from patients with melanoma after adoptive T-cell therapy. DTEA detected a similar spectrum of the dominant patterns of TCRVβ gene usage as sequencing cloned TCRVβ CDR3 regions. However, DTEA was rapid, achieved a level of sensitivity to identify rare T-cell populations, and simultaneously tracked the full array of Vα and Vβ transcripts.
Conclusions: DTEA can rapidly and sensitively track changes in TCRVα and Vβ gene usages in T-cell pools following immune interventions, such as adoptive T-cell transfer, and may also be used to assess impact of vaccination or reconstitution of T-cell compartment after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.