Amplification of tumor immunity by gene transfer of the co-stimulatory 4-1BB ligand: synergy with the CD28 co-stimulatory pathway



We have explored the role of an activation-induced T cell molecule, 4-1BB (CDw137), in the amplification of tumor immunity by retrovirus-mediated transduction of the 4-1BB ligand (4-1BBL) into tumor cells. Mice inoculated with P815 tumor cells expressing 4-1BBL developed a strong cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response and long-term immunity against wild-type tumor. The optimal effect of 4-1BBL in CTL stimulation required B7-CD28 interaction since blockade of this interaction by antibodies down-regulated the expression of 4-1BB on T cells and decreased CTL activity. Furthermore, co-expression of 4-1BBL and B7-1 in the poorly immunogenic AG104A sarcoma enhanced the induction of effector CTL and the rejection of the wild-type tumor while neither 4-1BBL nor B7-1 single transfectants were effective, suggesting a synergistic effect between the 4-1BB and the CD28 co-stimulatory pathways. Our results underscore the importance of the 4-1BB T cell stimulation pathway in the amplification of an antitumor immune response.