Adoptive transfer of T cell receptor–engineered T cells (TCR-T) is a promising strategy for immunotherapy against solid tumors. However, the potential of CD4+ T cells in mediating tumor regression has been neglected. Nasopharyngeal cancer is consistently associated with EBV. Here, to evaluate the therapeutic potential of CD4 TCR-T in nasopharyngeal cancer, we screened for CD4 TCRs recognizing EBV nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA1) presented by HLA-DP5. Using mass spectrometry, we identified EBNA1567–581, a peptide naturally processed and presented by HLA-DP5. We isolated TCR135, a CD4 TCR with high functional avidity, that can function in both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and recognizes HLA-DP5–restricted EBNA1567–581. TCR135-transduced T cells functioned in two ways: directly killing HLA-DP5+EBNA1+ tumor cells after recognizing EBNA1 presented by tumor cells and indirectly killing HLA-DP5–negative tumor cells after recognizing EBNA1 presented by antigen-presenting cells. TCR135-transduced T cells preferentially infiltrated into the tumor microenvironment and significantly inhibited tumor growth in xenograft nasopharyngeal tumor models. Additionally, we found that 62% of nasopharyngeal cancer patients showed 50%–100% expression of HLA-DP on tumor cells, indicating that nasopharyngeal cancer is well suited for CD4 TCR-T therapy. These findings suggest that TCR135 may provide a new strategy for EBV-related nasopharyngeal cancer immunotherapy in HLA-DP5+ patients.


Chenwei Wang, Jiewen Chen, Jingyao Li, Zhihong Xu, Lihong Huang, Qian Zhao, Lei Chen, Xiaolong Liang, Hai Hu, Gang Li, Chengjie Xiong, Bin Wu, Hua You, Danyi Du, Xiaoling Wang, Hongle Li, Zibing Wang, Lin Chen


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