Development of T cell lines sensitive to antigen stimulation

J Immunol Methods. 2018 Nov:462:65-73. doi: 10.1016/j.jim.2018.08.011. Epub 2018 Aug 28.


Immortalized T cells such as T cell hybridomas, transfectomas, and transductants are useful tools to study tri-molecular complexes consisting of peptide, MHC, and T cell receptor (TCR) molecules. These cells have been utilized for antigen discovery studies for decades due to simplicity and rapidness of growing cells. However, responsiveness to antigen stimulation is typically less sensitive compared to primary T cells, resulting in occasional false negative outcomes especially for TCRs having low affinity to a peptide-MHC complex (pMHC). To overcome this obstacle, we genetically engineered T cell hybridomas to express additional CD3 molecules as well as CD4 with two amino acid substitutions that increase affinity to MHC class II molecules. The manipulated T cell hybridomas that were further transduced with retroviral vectors encoding TCRs of interest responded to cognate antigens more robustly than non-manipulated cells without evoking non-antigen specific reactivity. Of importance, the manipulation with CD3 and mutated human CD4 expression was effective in increasing responsiveness of T cell hybridomas to a wide variety of TCR, peptide, and MHC combinations across class II genetic loci (i.e. HLA-DR, HLA-DQ, HLA-DP, and murine H2-IA) and species (i.e. both humans and mice), and thus will be useful to identify antigen specificity of T cells.

Keywords: Antigen discovery; CD4; Genetic manipulation; MHC class II; T cell hybridomas.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antigens / immunology
  • Antigens / pharmacology*
  • CD3 Complex / immunology
  • Cell Line, Transformed / cytology
  • Cell Line, Transformed / immunology*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hybridomas / cytology
  • Hybridomas / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology*


  • Antigens
  • CD3 Complex
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell