Genetic abrogation of immune checkpoints in antigen-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte as a potential alternative to blockade immunotherapy
Zhang C., Peng Y., Hublitz P., Zhang H., Dong T.
AbstractT cell function can be compromised during chronic infections or through continuous exposure to tumor antigens by the action of immune checkpoint receptors, such as programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1). Systemic administration of blocking antibodies against the PD-1 pathway can restore T cell function, and has been approved for the treatment of several malignancies, although there is a risk of adverse immune-related side-effects. We have developed a method for generating gene knockouts in human antigen (Ag)-specific cytotoxic T-Lymphocyte (CTLs) using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) genome editing. Using this method, we generated several transduced CD4+ or CD8+ antigen-specific polyclonal CTL lines and clones, and validated gene modifications of the PD-1 gene. We compared these T-cell lines and clones with control groups in the presence of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) and observed improved effector functions in the PD1-disrupted cell group. Overall, we have developed a versatile tool for functional genomics in human antigen-specific CTL studies. Furthermore, we provide an alternative strategy for current cell-based immunotherapy that will minimize the side effects caused by antibody blockade therapy.