A novel T cell receptor single-chain signaling complex mediates antigen-specific T cell activity and tumor control

Jennifer D. Stone, Daniel T. Harris, Carolina M. Soto, Adam S. Chervin, David H. Aggen, Edward J. Roy, David M. Kranz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adoptive transfer of genetically modified T cells to treat cancer has shown promise in several clinical trials. Two main strategies have been applied to redirect T cells against cancer: (1) introduction of a full-length T cell receptor (TCR) specific for a tumor-associated peptide—MHC, or (2) introduction of a chimeric antigen receptor, including an antibody fragment specific for a tumor cell surface antigen, linked intracellularly to T cell signaling domains. Each strategy has advantages and disadvantages for clinical applications. Here, we present data on the in vitro and in vivo effectiveness of a single-chain signaling receptor incorporating a TCR variable fragment as the targeting element (referred to as TCR-SCS). This receptor contained a single-chain TCR (Vα-linker-Vβ) from a high-affinity TCR called m33, linked to the intracellular signaling domains of CD28 and CD3ζ. This format avoided mispairing with endogenous TCR chains and mediated specific T cell activity when expressed in either CD4 or CD8 T cells. TCR-SCS-transduced CD8-negative cells showed an intriguing sensitivity, compared to full-length TCRs, to higher densities of less stable pepMHC targets. T cells that expressed this peptide-specific receptor persisted in vivo, and exhibited polyfunctional responses. Growth of metastatic antigen-positive tumors was significantly inhibited by T cells that expressed this receptor, and tumor cells that escaped were antigen-loss variants. TCR-SCS receptors represent an alternative targeting receptor strategy that combines the advantages of single-chain expression, avoidance of TCR chain mispairing, and targeting of intracellular antigens presented in complex with MHC proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1163-1176
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2014


  • Adoptive T cell transfer
  • Chimeric antigen receptors
  • Melanoma
  • T cell receptors
  • Tumor targeting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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