Massafra, Vittoria, et al. “Proteolysis-Targeting Chimeras Enhance T Cell Bispecific Antibody-Driven T Cell Activation and Effector Function through Increased MHC Class I Antigen Presentation in Cancer Cells.” The Journal of Immunology, The American Association of Immunologists, July 2021, p. ji2000252. Crossref, doi:10.4049/jimmunol.2000252.
The availability of Ags on the surface of tumor cells is crucial for the efficacy of cancer immunotherapeutic approaches using large molecules, such as T cell bispecific Abs (TCBs). Tumor Ags are processed through intracellular proteasomal protein degradation and are displayed as peptides on MHC class I (MHC I). Ag recognition through TCRs on the surface of CD8+ T cells can elicit a tumor-selective immune response. In this article, we show that proteolysis-targeting chimeras (PROTACs) that target bromo- and extraterminal domain proteins increase the abundance of the corresponding target-derived peptide Ags on MHC I in both liquid and solid tumor–derived human cell lines. This increase depends on the engagement of the E3 ligase to bromo- and extraterminal domain protein. Similarly, targeting of a doxycycline-inducible Wilms tumor 1 (WT1)-FKBP12F36V fusion protein, by a mutant-selective FKBP12F36V degrader, increases the presentation of WT1 Ags in human breast cancer cells. T cell–mediated response directed against cancer cells was tested on treatment with a TCR-like TCB, which was able to bridge human T cells to a WT1 peptide displayed on MHC I. FKBP12F36V degrader treatment increased the expression of early and late activation markers (CD69, CD25) in T cells; the secretion of granzyme β, IFN-γ, and TNF-α; and cancer cell killing in a tumor-T cell coculture model. This study supports harnessing targeted protein degradation in tumor cells, for modulation of T cell effector function, by investigating for the first time, to our knowledge, the potential of combining a degrader and a TCB in a cancer immunotherapy setting.