Development of a B-cell maturation antigen-specific T-cell antigen coupler receptor for multiple myeloma
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BACKGROUND AIMS: T cells engineered with synthetic receptors have delivered powerful therapeutic results for patients with relapsed/refractory hematologic malignancies. The authors have recently described the T-cell antigen coupler (TAC) receptor, which co-opts the endogenous T-cell receptor (TCR) and activates engineered T cells in an HLA-independent manner. Here the authors describe the evolution of a next-generation TAC receptor with a focus on developing a TAC-engineered T cell for multiple myeloma. METHODS: To optimize the TAC scaffold, the authors employed a bona fide antigen-binding domain derived from the B-cell maturation antigen-specific monoclonal antibody C11D5.3, which has been used successfully in the clinic. The authors first tested humanized versions of the UCHT1 domain, which is used by the TAC to co-opt the TCR. The authors further discovered that the signal peptide affected surface expression of the TAC receptor. Higher density of the TAC receptor enhanced target binding in vitro, which translated into higher levels of Lck at the immunological synapse and stronger proliferation when only receptor-ligand interactions were present. RESULTS: The authors observed that the humanized UCHT1 improved surface expression and in vivo efficacy. Using TAC T cells derived from both healthy donors and multiple myeloma patients, the authors determined that despite the influence of receptor density on early activation events and effector function, receptor density did not impact late effector functions in vitro, nor did the receptor density affect in vivo efficacy. CONCLUSIONS: The modifications to the TAC scaffold described herein represent an important step in the evolution of this technology, which tolerates a range of expression levels without impacting therapeutic efficacy.
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