We recently described the concept of T cell co-potentiation as means to target antigen recognition by T cells to achieve antitumor immunotherapy in mouse models. Normally, T cell antigen receptor (TCR) engagement by a strong immunogenic antigen induces a CD3 conformational change that exposes a proline-rich sequence (PRS) in the cytosolic domain of CD3 epsilon (CD3e) to dock cytosolic proteins and contribute to the assembly of the signaling cascade that activates T cell immune function. While induction of CD3 conformational change is required by T cells to achieve productive TCR/CD3 signaling, this molecular event fails to occur when the TCR interacts with poorly immunogenic antigens, like most tumor-associated antigens (TAAs). We found that CD3 conformational change can be exogenously induced on T cells using monovalent Fab fragments (Mono-Fabs) specific for the CD3 complex. Anti-CD3 Mono-Fabs expose the CD3e PRS, but fail to crosslink the TCR/CD3, turning them incompetent to trigger T cell activation in the absence of additional stimulation. However, if TCR has bound a weak antigen, one that fails to induce CD3 conformational change intrinsically, then anti-CD3 Mono-Fabs enable TCR/CD3 signaling, and as a result co-potentiate T cell responses to weak antigenic stimulation. Using a mouse model for melanoma (B6 mice and B16-F10 melanoma cell line), we found that treatment of mice with anti-CD3e Mono-Fabs improved antitumor T cell responses against melanoma in an antigen-dependent manner, and dramatically improved the outcome of complementary T cell immunotherapies. Based on these observations, we hypothesize that T cell co-potentiation using anti-human CD3 Mono-Fabs can be exploited as a novel immunotherapy for cancer patients. We have recently identified one anti-human CD3 Mono-Fab that is capable to induce CD3 conformational change in human T cells and allows the co-potentiation of T cell response to weak antigenic stimulation. Here we present data from human T cells and humanized mouse models using this Mono-Fab that support the potential therapeutic value of exploiting T cell co-potentiation to treat cancer patients.

Citation Format: Alfreda D. Nelson, Laura Elsbernd, Adam G. Schrum, Diana Gil Pages. Testing T cell co-potentiation as an antitumor therapeutic strategy in humanized mouse models [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018; 2018 Apr 14-18; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2018;78(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 962.