Minimal amino acid exchange in human TCR constant regions fosters improved function of TCR gene-modified T cells


  • D. Sommermeyer
  • W. Uckert


  • Journal of Immunology


  • J Immunol 184 (11): 6223-6231


  • TCR gene therapy using adoptive transfer of TCR gene-modified T cells is a new strategy for treatment of cancer. One critical prerequisite for TCR gene therapy is sufficient expression of transferred TCRs. Several strategies to achieve optimal expression were developed, including "murinization," which replaces the human TCRalpha and TCRbeta constant regions by their murine counterparts. Using a series of mouse-human hybrid constructs, we have identified nine amino acids responsible for the improved expression of murinized TCRs. Five essential amino acid exchanges were identified in the TCRbeta C region, with exchange of a glutamic acid (human) for a basic lysine (mouse) at position 18 of the C region, being most important. For the TCRalpha C region, an area of four amino acids was sufficient for improved expression. The minimally murinized TCR variants (harboring only nine residues of the mouse sequence) enhanced expression of human TCRs by supporting preferential pairing of transferred TCR chains and a more stable association with the CD3 proteins. Most important, usage of minimally murinized TCR chains improved the function of transduced primary human T cells in comparison with cells transduced with wild-type TCRs. For TCR gene therapy, the utilization of minimally instead of completely murinized constant regions dramatically reduces the number of foreign residues and thereby the risk for immunogenicity of therapeutic TCRs.