A key predictor for the success of gene-modified T cell therapies for cancer is the persistence of transferred cells in the patient. The propensity of less differentiated memory T cells to expand and survive efficiently has therefore made them attractive candidates for clinical application. We hypothesized that re-directing T cells to specialized niches in the bone marrow (BM) that support memory differentiation would confer increased therapeutic efficacy. We show that overexpression of chemokine receptor CXCR4 in CD8+ T cells (TCXCR4) enhanced their migration towards vascular-associated CXCL12+ cells in the BM and increased their local engraftment. Increased access of TCXCR4 to the BM microenvironment induced IL-15-dependent homeostatic expansion and promoted the differentiation of memory precursor-like cells with low expression of programmed death-1, resistance to apoptosis and a heightened capacity to generate poly-functional cytokine-producing effector cells. Following transfer to lymphoma-bearing mice, TCXCR4 showed a greater capacity for effector expansion and better tumor protection, the latter being independent of changes in trafficking to the tumor bed or local out-competition of regulatory T cells. Thus, re-directed homing of T cells to the BM confers increased memory differentiation and anti-tumor immunity, suggesting an innovative solution to increase the persistence and functions of therapeutic T cells.
Anjum B. Khan, Ben Carpenter, Pedro Santos e Sousa, Constandina Pospori, Reema Khorshed, James Griffin, Pedro Veliça, Mathias Zech, Sara Ghorashian, Calum Forrest, Sharyn Thomas, Sara Gonzalez Anton, Maryam Ahmadi, Angelika Holler, Barry Flutter, Zaida Ramirez-Ortiz, Terry K. Means, Clare L. Bennett, Hans Stauss, Emma Morris, Cristina Lo Celso, Ronjon Chakraverty