Adoptive transfer of genetically modified immune cells holds great promise for cancer immunotherapy. CRISPR knockin targeting can improve cell therapies, but more high-throughput methods are needed to test which knockin gene constructs most potently enhance primary cell functions in vivo. We developed a widely adaptable technology to barcode and track targeted integrations of large non-viral DNA templates and applied it to perform pooled knockin screens in primary human T cells. Pooled knockin of dozens of unique barcoded templates into the T cell receptor (TCR)-locus revealed gene constructs that enhanced fitness in vitro and in vivo. We further developed pooled knockin sequencing (PoKI-seq), combining single-cell transcriptome analysis and pooled knockin screening to measure cell abundance and cell state ex vivo and in vivo. This platform nominated a novel transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) R2-41BB chimeric receptor that improved solid tumor clearance. Pooled knockin screening enables parallelized re-writing of endogenous genetic sequences to accelerate discovery of knockin programs for cell therapies.
Keywords: CRISPR; cell therapy; human T cell; knockins; pooled screen; single-cell RNA-seq.
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