Purpose: Cancers usually contain multiple unique tumor-specific antigens produced by single amino acid substitutions (AAS) and encoded by somatic nonsynonymous single nucleotide substitutions. We determined whether adoptively transferred T cells can reject large, well-established solid tumors when engineered to express a single type of T-cell receptor (TCR) that is specific for a single AAS.
Experimental design: By exome and RNA sequencing of an UV-induced tumor, we identified an AAS in p68 (mp68), a co-activator of p53. This AAS seemed to be an ideal tumor-specific neoepitope because it is encoded by a trunk mutation in the primary autochthonous cancer and binds with highest affinity to the MHC. A high-avidity mp68-specific TCR was used to genetically engineer T cells as well as to generate TCR-transgenic mice for adoptive therapy.
Results: When the neoepitope was expressed at high levels and by all cancer cells, their direct recognition sufficed to destroy intratumor vessels and eradicate large, long-established solid tumors. When the neoepitope was targeted as autochthonous antigen, T cells caused cancer regression followed by escape of antigen-negative variants. Escape could be thwarted by expressing the antigen at increased levels in all cancer cells or by combining T-cell therapy with local irradiation. Therapeutic efficacies of TCR-transduced and TCR-transgenic T cells were similar.
Conclusions: Gene therapy with a single TCR targeting a single AAS can eradicate large established cancer, but a uniform expression and/or sufficient levels of the targeted neoepitope or additional therapy are required to overcome tumor escape. Clin Cancer Res; 22(11); 2734-43. ©2015 AACRSee related commentary by Liu, p. 2602.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.