Universal Chimeric Antigen Receptors for Multiplexed and Logical Control of T Cell Responses

Cell. 2018 May 31;173(6):1426-1438.e11. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.03.038. Epub 2018 Apr 26.


T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are promising cancer therapeutic agents, with the prospect of becoming the ultimate smart cancer therapeutics. To expand the capability of CAR T cells, here, we present a split, universal, and programmable (SUPRA) CAR system that simultaneously encompasses multiple critical "upgrades," such as the ability to switch targets without re-engineering the T cells, finely tune T cell activation strength, and sense and logically respond to multiple antigens. These features are useful to combat relapse, mitigate over-activation, and enhance specificity. We test our SUPRA system against two different tumor models to demonstrate its broad utility and humanize its components to minimize potential immunogenicity concerns. Furthermore, we extend the orthogonal SUPRA CAR system to regulate different T cell subsets independently, demonstrating a dually inducible CAR system. Together, these SUPRA CARs illustrate that multiple advanced logic and control features can be implemented into a single, integrated system.

Keywords: CAR T therapy; cellular immunotherapy; chimeric antigen receptors; immune cell engineering; synthetic biology; systems biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Jurkat Cells
  • K562 Cells
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen / immunology*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / immunology
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*


  • Antigens
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins