TCR-engineered adoptive cell therapy effectively treats intracranial murine glioblastoma

J Immunother Cancer. 2023 Feb;11(2):e006121. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2022-006121.


Background: Adoptive cellular therapies with chimeric antigen receptor T cells have revolutionized the treatment of some malignancies but have shown limited efficacy in solid tumors such as glioblastoma and face a scarcity of safe therapeutic targets. As an alternative, T cell receptor (TCR)-engineered cellular therapy against tumor-specific neoantigens has generated significant excitement, but there exist no preclinical systems to rigorously model this approach in glioblastoma.

Methods: We employed single-cell PCR to isolate a TCR specific for the Imp3D81N neoantigen (mImp3) previously identified within the murine glioblastoma model GL261. This TCR was used to generate the Mutant Imp3-Specific TCR TransgenIC (MISTIC) mouse in which all CD8 T cells are specific for mImp3. The therapeutic efficacy of neoantigen-specific T cells was assessed through a model of cellular therapy consisting of the transfer of activated MISTIC T cells and interleukin 2 into lymphodepleted tumor-bearing mice. We employed flow cytometry, single-cell RNA sequencing, and whole-exome and RNA sequencing to examine the factors underlying treatment response.

Results: We isolated and characterized the 3×1.1C TCR that displayed a high affinity for mImp3 but no wild-type cross-reactivity. To provide a source of mImp3-specific T cells, we generated the MISTIC mouse. In a model of adoptive cellular therapy, the infusion of activated MISTIC T cells resulted in rapid intratumoral infiltration and profound antitumor effects with long-term cures in a majority of GL261-bearing mice. The subset of mice that did not respond to the adoptive cell therapy showed evidence of retained neoantigen expression but intratumoral MISTIC T cell dysfunction. The efficacy of MISTIC T cell therapy was lost in mice bearing a tumor with heterogeneous mImp3 expression, showcasing the barriers to targeted therapy in polyclonal human tumors.

Conclusions: We generated and characterized the first TCR transgenic against an endogenous neoantigen within a preclinical glioma model and demonstrated the therapeutic potential of adoptively transferred neoantigen-specific T cells. The MISTIC mouse provides a powerful novel platform for basic and translational studies of antitumor T-cell responses in glioblastoma.

Keywords: T-lymphocytes; antigens; brain neoplasms; cell engineering; immunotherapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • Glioblastoma*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive*
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell