Activation of T cells via tumor antigen specific chimeric receptors: The role of the intracellular signaling domain

Florian O. Losch, Ralph Müller, Bettina Mutschler, Dario Neri, Pier Giorgio Natali, Michael Reth, Rita Carsetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


T cells engineered to express hybrid receptors with antibody defined specificity can successfully be targeted to tumor cells. In order to select intracellular domains of chimeric receptors capable of efficiently activate T cells in vitro and in vivo, we compared the function of receptors, which share the same extracellular antigen-binding part, joined to different intra-cellular signal transduction units. The antigen binding domain of the receptors was a single-chain fragment of a monoclonal antibody, which recognize a High Molecular Weight Melanoma-Associated Antigen with high affinity. The intracellular tails were derived from the T-cell receptor ζ chain (TCR-ζ), from the B-cell receptor Ig-α molecule and from a mutated Ig-α molecule able of stronger signal transduction. We compared the activity of the different chimeric receptors at a single-cell level by using a T-cell line that expressed an activation-dependent EGFP-reporter gene. Upon cross-linking with immobilized antibodies, all receptors were able to induce EGFP expression in the majority of the T cells. In contrast, EGFP expression was induced by contact to melanoma cells in vitro only in T cells that expressed the chimeric receptor that contained the TCR-ζ intracellular tail. In these T cells, the co-expression of chimeric receptors that contain a mutated Ig-α tail lowers the threshold of T-cell activation and facilitates tumor recognition in vitro and in vivo. Given their specificity and efficiency, T cells grafted with these type of receptors may represent potential candidates for cancer passive immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-407
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 20 2003


  • High Molecular Weight Melanoma-Associated Antigen
  • Monoclonal antibody
  • Single chain fragment variable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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