Genetic abrogation of immune checkpoints in antigen-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte as a potential alternative to blockade immunotherapy.
Zhang C., Peng Y., Hublitz P., Zhang H., Dong T.
T cell function can be compromised during chronic infections or through continuous exposure to tumor antigens by the action of immune checkpoint receptors, such as programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1). Systemic administration of blocking antibodies against the PD-1 pathway can restore T cell function, and has been approved for the treatment of several malignancies, although there is a risk of adverse immune-related side-effects. We have developed a method for generating gene knockouts in human antigen (Ag)-specific cytotoxic T-Lymphocyte (CTLs) using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) genome editing. Using this method, we generated several transduced CD4+ or CD8+ antigen-specific polyclonal CTL lines and clones, and validated gene modifications of the PD-1 gene. We compared these T-cell lines and clones with control groups in the presence of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) and observed improved effector functions in the PD1-disrupted cell group. Overall, we have developed a versatile tool for functional genomics in human antigen-specific CTL studies. Furthermore, we provide an alternative strategy for current cell-based immunotherapy that will minimize the side effects caused by antibody blockade therapy.