Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) play critical roles in cancer-immune responses, and functional characterization of CTLs and their cancer-specific antigens will facilitate cancer immunotherapies. Immunogenic peptides, which can be derived from oncogenic proteins specifically expressed in cancer cells but not expressed in normal organs except testis (oncoantigens), or from peptides with somatic nonsynonymous mutations (neoantigens), are known as good targets for CTLs to eradicate cancer cells. In this study, we aimed to establish a method to efficiently identify oncoantigen/neoantigen-specific CTLs. Firstly, we screened candidate HLA-A2402-restricted oncoantigen/neoantigen peptides by in silico prediction of their binding affinity to MHC class I molecules. We conducted an in-vitro stimulation of CD8 lymphocytes carrying HLA-A24:02 allele by each peptide, and then confirmed clonal expansion of the peptide-specific CTLs by TCR repertoire sequencing analysis, interferon-γ enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) and/or peptide-HLA multimer assays. After identification of TCR alpha-beta pairs, we conducted retroviral transduction and prepared the TCR-engineered T cells to evaluate their cytotoxic activities against cancer cells. As oncoantigens, we isolated the CTLs for FOXM1 and UBE2T from healthy donors, and found these CTLs showed strong cytotoxicity against HLA-A2402-positive cancer cells expressing target proteins, but not against HLA-unmatched cancer cells. Similarly, the TCR-engineered T cells for FOXM1 and UBE2T showed killing effects for only HLA-A2402-positive cancer cells. Neoantigen-specific TCR-engineered CTLs also exhibited the mutated peptide-specific response, but did not cross-react to the nonmutated peptide. In addition, neoantigen-specific cytotoxicity was observed against HLA-A2402-positive cancer cells expressing the proteins with target somatic mutations. In conclusion, we developed the pipeline to screen possible onconatigens/neoantigens and establish antigen-specific TCR-engineered CTLs from peripheral blood lymphocytes. Our approach provides a promising strategy to develop personalized immunotherapies using onconatigen/neoantigen-reactive TCR-engineered T cells to treat cancer.

Citation Format: Tatsuo Matsuda, Taigo Kato, Yuji Ikeda, Matthias Leisegang, Sachiko Yoshimura, Tetsuro Hikichi, Makiko Harada, Makda Zewde, Jae-Hyun Park, Hans Schreiber, Kazuma Kiyotani, Yusuke Nakamura. Eradication of cancer cells by T-cell receptor-engineered T cells targeting neoantigens/oncoantigens [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2017; 2017 Apr 1-5; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2017;77(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 625. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2017-625