Among Immunotherapeutic approaches for cancer treatment, the adoptive transfer of antigen specific T cells is still a relevant approach, that could have higher efficacy when further combined with immune check-point blockade. A high number of adoptive transfer trials have been performed in metastatic melanoma, due to its high immunogenic potential, either with polyclonal TIL or antigen-specific polyclonal populations. In this setting, the extensive characterization of T cell functions and receptor diversity of infused polyclonal T cells is required, notably for monitoring purposes. We developed a clinical grade procedure for the selection and amplification of polyclonal CD8 T cells, specific for two shared and widely expressed melanoma antigens: Melan-A and MELOE-1. This procedure is currently used in a clinical trial for HLA-A2 metastatic melanoma patients. In this study, we characterized the T-cell diversity (T-cell repertoire) of such T cell populations using a new RNAseq strategy. We first assessed the added-value of TCR receptor sequencing, in terms of sensitivity and specificity, by direct comparison with cytometry analysis of the T cell populations labeled with anti-Vß-specific antibodies. Results from these analyzes also confirmed specific features already reported for Melan-A and MELOE-1 specific T cell repertoires in terms of V-alpha recurrence usage, on a very high number of T cell clonotypes. Furthermore, these analyses also revealed undescribed features, such as the recurrence of a specific motif in the CDR3α region for MELOE-1 specific T cell repertoire. Finally, the analysis of a large number of T cell clonotypes originating from various patients revealed the existence of public CDR3α and ß clonotypes for Melan-A and MELOE-1 specific T cells. In conclusion, this method of high throughput TCR sequencing is a reliable and powerful approach to deeply characterize polyclonal T cell repertoires, and to reveal specific features of a given TCR repertoire, that would be useful for immune follow-up of cancer patients treated by immunotherapeutic approaches.
Keywords: MELOE-1; Melan-A; TCR sequencing; immunotherapy; melanoma.