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688 In vivo expansion of gamma delta T cells by a CD19-targeted butyrophilin heterodimer leads to elimination of peripheral B cells
  1. Suresh De Silva,
  2. George Fromm,
  3. Louis Gonzalez,
  4. Arpita Patel,
  5. Kyung Yoon,
  6. Zachery Opheim,
  7. Robert Farmer,
  8. Dean Chamberlain and
  9. Taylor Schreiber
  1. Shattuck Labs, Durham, NC, USA


Background A primary mechanism of cancer immunotherapy resistance involves downregulation of specific antigens or major histocompatibility complex based antigen presentation, which renders tumor cells invisible to alpha-beta T cells, but not gamma-delta T cells. Recently, a two-step model of gamma-delta T cell activation has emerged, wherein one butyrophilin (BTN, ie. BTN2A1) directly binds the gamma-delta TCR but is only activated if certain molecular patterns (eg. phosphoantigens) facilitate recruitment of a second BTN (ie. BTN3A1) into a complex to form a BTN2A1/3A1 heterodimer. The BTN2A1/3A1 complex specifically activates the predominant gamma-delta T cell population in the peripheral blood, comprising the Vg9d2 T cell receptor (TCR), but does not activate the primary gamma-delta T cell population in mucosal tissues, comprising the Vg4 TCR. The unique mechanism of action and specificity of gamma-delta TCR/BTN interactions suggests that therapeutic proteins comprising specific BTN heterodimers could be used to target specific gamma-delta T cell populations, with a lower risk of off-target activation common with CD3-directed T cell engagers.

Methods Human BTN2A1/3A1-Fc-CD19scFv and mouse BTNL1/6-Fc-CD19scFv heterodimeric fusion proteins were purified and binding to CD19 or the respective gamma-delta TCRs was assessed by ELISA, Octet and flow cytometry using gd T-cells isolated from human peripheral blood and mouse intestinal tissue. The functionality of the constructs to activate gamma-delta T cells and mediate killing of tumor cells was assessed using live cell imaging in vitro as well as a murine B-cell lymphoma model in vivo.

Results The CD19-targeting scFv domains of the BTN heterodimer fusion proteins bound to human and mouse CD19 with low nanomolar affinity. The BTN2A1/3A1-Fc-CD19scFv compound specifically bound to the Vg9d2 TCR on human gd T cells while the mouse BTNL1/6-Fc-CD19scFv bound to Vg7d4 TCR on mouse gd T cells. Both compounds were able to activate gd T cells in a co-culture assay resulting in degranulation and increased surface expression of CD107a and also increased apoptosis of CD19+ tumor cells. Intraperitoneal administration of the mouse BTNL1/6-Fc-CD19scFv led to anti-tumor effects in A20 tumor bearing BALB/c mice. Phenotyping from BTNL1/6-Fc-CD19scFv treated mice revealed profound and rapid expansion of the endogenous gamma-delta T cells in the circulation and tumor, with concomitant depletion of peripheral CD19+ B-cells, confirming the mechanism of action of the heterodimer as a gamma-delta T cell specific engager.

Conclusions These results provide proof of mechanism for in vivo manipulation of gamma-delta T cells using antigen-targeted butyrophilin heterodimeric fusion proteins for the treatment of cancer.

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