The T cells of the immune system can target tumors and clear solid cancers following tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy. We used combinatorial peptide libraries and a proteomic database to reveal the antigen specificities of persistent cancer-specific T cell receptors (TCRs) following successful TIL therapy for stage IV malignant melanoma. Remarkably, individual TCRs could target multiple different tumor types via the HLA A∗02:01-restricted epitopes EAAGIGILTV, LLLGIGILVL, and NLSALGIFST from Melan A, BST2, and IMP2, respectively. Atomic structures of a TCR bound to all three antigens revealed the importance of the shared x-x-x-A/G-I/L-G-I-x-x-x recognition motif. Multi-epitope targeting allows individual T cells to attack cancer in several ways simultaneously. Such "multipronged" T cells exhibited superior recognition of cancer cells compared with conventional T cell recognition of individual epitopes, making them attractive candidates for the development of future immunotherapies.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00937625.
Keywords: HLA class I; T cell receptor; TCR; TCR-T; TIL therapy; TILs; cancer immunotherapy; peptide-HLA; tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes.
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