CTLA-4 tail fusion enhances CAR-T anti-tumor immunity

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2023 Mar 15:2023.03.14.532655. doi: 10.1101/2023.03.14.532655.


Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells are powerful therapeutics; however, their efficacy is often hindered by critical hurdles. Here, utilizing the endocytic feature of the cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA-4) cytoplasmic tail (CT), we reprogram CAR function and substantially enhance CAR-T efficacy in vivo . CAR-T cells with monomeric, duplex, or triplex CTLA-4 CTs (CCTs) fused to the C-terminus of CAR exhibit a progressive increase in cytotoxicity under repeated stimulation, accompanied by reduced activation and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Further characterization reveals that CARs with increasing CCT fusion show a progressively lower surface expression, regulated by their constant endocytosis, recycling and degradation under steady state. The molecular dynamics of reengineered CAR with CCT fusion results in reduced CAR-mediated trogocytosis, loss of tumor antigen, and improved CAR-T survival. CARs with either monomeric (CAR-1CCT) or duplex CCTs (CAR-2CCT) have superior anti-tumor efficacy in a relapsed leukemia model. Single-cell RNA sequencing and flow cytometry analysis reveal that CAR-2CCT cells retain a stronger central memory phenotype and exhibit increased persistence. These findings illuminate a unique strategy for engineering therapeutic T cells and improving CAR-T function through synthetic CCT fusion, which is orthogonal to other cell engineering techniques.

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  • Preprint