Simultaneous engineering of natural killer cells for CAR transgenesis and CRISPR-Cas9 knockout using retroviral particles

Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2023 Mar 15:29:173-184. doi: 10.1016/j.omtm.2023.03.006. eCollection 2023 Jun 8.


Natural killer (NK) cells are potent cytotoxic innate lymphocytes that can be used for cancer immunotherapy. Since the balance of signals from activating and inhibitory receptors determines the activity of NK cells, their anti-tumor activity can be potentiated by overexpressing activating receptors or knocking out inhibitory receptors via genome engineering, such as chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) transgenesis and CRISPR-Cas9-mediated gene editing, respectively. Here, we report the development of a one-step strategy for CRISPR-Cas9-mediated gene knockout and CAR transgenesis in NK cells using retroviral particles. We generated NK cells expressing anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-CAR with simultaneous TIGIT gene knockout using single transduction and evaluated the consequence of the genetic modifications in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, our results demonstrate that retroviral particle-mediated engineering provides a strategy readily applicable to simultaneous genetic modifications of NK cells for efficient immunotherapy.

Keywords: CRISPR-Cas9; EGFR; TIGIT; chimeric antigen receptors; flow virometry; genetic engineering; immunotherapy; natural killer cells; retroviral particles; virus-like-particles.