Simultaneous genetic ablation of PD-1, LAG-3, and TIM-3 in CD8 T cells delays tumor growth and improves survival outcome


  • E. Ciraolo
  • S. Althoff
  • J. Ruß
  • S. Rosnev
  • M. Butze
  • M. Pühl
  • M. Frentsch
  • L. Bullinger
  • I.K. Na


  • International Journal of Molecular Sciences


  • Int J Mol Sci 23 (6): 3207


  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) represented a step forward in improving the outcome of patients with various refractory solid tumors and several therapeutic regimens incorporating ICI have already been approved for a variety of tumor entities. However, besides remarkable long-term responses, checkpoint inhibition can trigger severe immune-related adverse events in some patients. In order to improve safety of ICI as well as T cell therapy, we tested the feasibility of combining T cell-based immunotherapy with genetic disruption of checkpoint molecule expression. Therefore, we generated H-Y and ovalbumin antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells with abolished PD-1, LAG-3, and TIM-3 expression through CRISPR/Cas9 technology. CD8(+) T cells, subjected to PD-1, LAG-3, and TIM-3 genetic editing, showed a strong reduction in immune checkpoint molecule expression after in vitro activation, while no relevant reduction in responsiveness to in vitro stimulation was observed. At the same time, in B16-OVA tumor model, transferred genetically edited OT-1 CD8(+) T cells promoted longer survival compared to control T cells and showed enhanced expansion without associated toxicity. Our study supports the notion that antigen-specific adoptive T cell therapy with concomitant genetic disruption of multiple checkpoint inhibitory receptors could represent an effective antitumor immunotherapy approach with improved tolerability profile.