Combinatorial CAR design improves target restriction

J Biol Chem. 2021 Jan-Jun;296:100116. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA120.016234. Epub 2020 Dec 3.


CAR T cells targeting the B lymphocyte antigen CD19 have led to remarkable clinical results in B cell leukemia and lymphoma but eliminate all B lineage cells, leading to increased susceptibility to severe infections. As malignant B cells will express either immunoglobulin (Ig) light chain κ or λ, we designed a second-generation CAR targeting Igκ, IGK CAR. This construct demonstrated high target specificity but displayed reduced efficacy in the presence of serum IgG. Since CD19 CAR is insensitive to serum IgG, we designed various combinatorial CAR constructs in order to maintain the CD19 CAR T cell efficacy, but with IGK CAR target selectivity. The Kz-19BB design, combining CD19 CAR containing a 4-1BB costimulatory domain with an IGK CAR containing a CD3zeta stimulatory domain, maintained the target specificity of IgK CAR and was resistant to the presence of soluble IgG. Our results demonstrate that a combinatorial CAR approach can improve target selectivity and efficacy.

Keywords: B cell malignancies; cell therapy; chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells; immunoglobulin kappa light chain; immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD19 / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD28 Antigens / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive
  • Lymphoma / metabolism
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen / chemistry
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD19
  • CD28 Antigens
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen