Monoclonal antibodies are among the most clinically effective drugs used to treat cancer. However, their target repertoire is limited as there are relatively few tumor-specific or tumor-associated cell surface or soluble antigens. Intracellular molecules represent nearly half of the human proteome and provide an untapped reservoir of potential therapeutic targets. Antibodies have been developed to target externalized antigens, have also been engineered to enter into cells or may be expressed intracellularly with the aim of binding intracellular antigens. Furthermore, intracellular proteins can be degraded by the proteasome into short, commonly 8-10 amino acid long, peptides that are presented on the cell surface in the context of major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) molecules. These tumor-associated peptide-MHC-I complexes can then be targeted by antibodies known as T-cell receptor mimic (TCRm) or T-cell receptor (TCR)-like antibodies, which recognize epitopes comprising both the peptide and the MHC-I molecule, similar to the recognition of such complexes by the TCR on T cells. Advances in the production of TCRm antibodies have enabled the generation of multiple TCRm antibodies, which have been tested in vitro and in vivo, expanding our understanding of their mechanisms of action and the importance of target epitope selection and expression. This review will summarize multiple approaches to targeting intracellular antigens with therapeutic antibodies, in particular describing the production and characterization of TCRm antibodies, the factors influencing their target identification, their advantages and disadvantages in the context of TCR therapies, and the potential to advance TCRm-based therapies into the clinic.
MHC class I presented peptide, T-cell epitope, T-cell receptor mimic antibody, T-cell receptor-like antibody, cancer immunotherapy, intrabody, intracellular antibody, therapeutic antibody