Eradication of large solid tumors by gene therapy with a T-cell receptor targeting a single cancer-specific point mutation

Matthias Leisegang*, Boris Engels, Karin Schreiber, Poh Yin Yew, Kazuma Kiyotani, Christian Idel, Ainhoa Arina, Jaikumar Duraiswamy, Ralph Rweichselbaum, Wolfgang Uckert, Yusuke Nakamura, Hans Schreiber

*Corresponding author for this work
44 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Cancers usually contain multiple unique tumor-specific antigens produced by single amino acid substitutions (AAS) and encoded by somatic nonsynonymous single nucleotide substitutions. We determined whether adoptively transferred T cells can reject large, well-established solid tumors when engineered to express a single type of T-cell receptor (TCR) that is specific for a single AAS. Experimental Design: By exome and RNA sequencing of an UV-induced tumor, we identified an AAS in p68 (mp68), a coactivator of p53. This AAS seemed to be an ideal tumor-specific neoepitope because it is encoded by a trunk mutation in the primary autochthonous cancer and binds with highest affinity to the MHC. A high-avidity mp68-specific TCR was used to genetically engineer T cells as well as to generate TCR-transgenic mice for adoptive therapy. Results: When the neoepitope was expressed at high levels and by all cancer cells, their direct recognition sufficed to destroy intratumor vessels and eradicate large, long-established solid tumors. When the neoepitope was targeted as autochthonous antigen, T cells caused cancer regression followed by escape of antigen-negative variants. Escape could be thwarted by expressing the antigen at increased levels in all cancer cells or by combining T-cell therapy with local irradiation. Therapeutic efficacies of TCR-transduced and TCR-transgenic T cells were similar. Conclusions: Gene therapy with a single TCR targeting a single AAS can eradicate large established cancer, but a uniform expression and/or sufficient levels of the targeted neoepitope or additional therapy are required to overcome tumor escape.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)2734-2743
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2016


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