The adoptive transfer of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells represents a breakthrough in clinical oncology, yet both between- and within-patient differences in autologously derived T cells are a major contributor to therapy failure. To interrogate the molecular determinants of clinical CAR T-cell persistence, we extensively characterized the premanufacture T cells of 71 patients with B-cell malignancies on trial to receive anti-CD19 CAR T-cell therapy. We performed RNA-sequencing analysis on sorted T-cell subsets from all 71 patients, followed by paired Cellular Indexing of Transcriptomes and Epitopes (CITE) sequencing and single-cell assay for transposase-accessible chromatin sequencing (scATAC-seq) on T cells from six of these patients. We found that chronic IFN signaling regulated by IRF7 was associated with poor CAR T-cell persistence across T-cell subsets, and that the TCF7 regulon not only associates with the favorable naïve T-cell state, but is maintained in effector T cells among patients with long-term CAR T-cell persistence. These findings provide key insights into the underlying molecular determinants of clinical CAR T-cell function. SIGNIFICANCE: To improve clinical outcomes for CAR T-cell therapy, there is a need to understand the molecular determinants of CAR T-cell persistence. These data represent the largest clinically annotated molecular atlas in CAR T-cell therapy to date, and significantly advance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying therapeutic efficacy.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 2113.
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