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Keywords:

  • leukaemia/lymphoma/myeloma;
  • MHC/HLA;
  • T-cell receptor (TCR);
  • therapy/immunotherapy;
  • toll receptors/Toll-like receptors

Summary

Adoptive transfer of T cells genetically modified with tumour-specific T-cell receptors (TCR) is a promising novel approach in the treatment of cancer. We have previously isolated an allorestricted MHC class I-restricted TCR with specificity for Formin-like protein 1 (FMNL1) with potent activity against chronic lymphocytic leukaemia cells. CD4+ T cells have been described to be highly important for tumour elimination although TCR derived from CD4+ T cells with anti-tumour reactivity have been only rarely described. In this study we aimed to isolate MHC class-II-restricted CD4+ T cells and TCR with specificity for leukaemia antigens. We used professional antigen-presenting cells pulsed with the leukaemia-associated and tumour-associated antigen FMNL1 for stimulation of autologous T cells in vitro. We isolated two CD4+ HLA-DR-restricted T-cell clones and T-cell-derived TCR with so far unknown specificity but high reactivity against lymphoma cells and native malignant cells derived from HLA-matched patients with diverse leukaemias. Moreover, characterization of the TCR after TCR gene transfer revealed that specific characteristics of isolated TCR as reactivity in response to Toll-like receptors were transferable on effector cells. Our results have a major impact on the development of novel immunotherapies. They demonstrate that TCR with potent HLA-DR-restricted anti-leukaemic reactivity against so far undefined self-restricted antigens can be isolated from the healthy autorestricted CD4+ T-cell repertoire and these TCR are highly interesting candidate tools for novel immunotherapies.