• CAR-T Cells Targeting Epstein-Barr Virus gp350 Validated in a Humanized Mouse Model of EBV Infection and Lymphoproliferative Disease.

      Slabik, Constanze; Kalbarczyk, Maja; Danisch, Simon; Zeidler, Reinhard; Klawonn, Frank; Volk, Valery; Krönke, Nicole; Feuerhake, Friedrich; Ferreira de Figueiredo, Constanca; Blasczyk, Rainer; et al. (Elsevier (Cell Press), 2020-08-08)
      Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a latent and oncogenic human herpesvirus. Lytic viral protein expression plays an important role in EBV-associated malignancies. The EBV envelope glycoprotein 350 (gp350) is expressed abundantly during EBV lytic reactivation and sporadically on the surface of latently infected cells. Here we tested T cells expressing gp350-specific chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) containing scFvs derived from two novel gp350-binding, highly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies. The scFvs were fused to CD28/CD3ζ signaling domains in a retroviral vector. The produced gp350CAR-T cells specifically recognized and killed gp350+ 293T cells in vitro. The best-performing 7A1-gp350CAR-T cells were cytotoxic against the EBV+ B95-8 cell line, showing selectivity against gp350+ cells. Fully humanized Nod.Rag.Gamma mice transplanted with cord blood CD34+ cells and infected with the EBV/M81/fLuc lytic strain were monitored dynamically for viral spread. Infected mice recapitulated EBV-induced lymphoproliferation, tumor development, and systemic inflammation. We tested adoptive transfer of autologous CD8+gp350CAR-T cells administered protectively or therapeutically. After gp350CAR-T cell therapy, 75% of mice controlled or reduced EBV spread and showed lower frequencies of EBER+ B cell malignant lymphoproliferation, lack of tumor development, and reduced inflammation. In summary, CD8+gp350CAR-T cells showed proof-of-concept preclinical efficacy against impending EBV+ lymphoproliferation and lymphomagenesis.
    • In Vivo Lentiviral Gene Delivery of HLA-DR and Vaccination of Humanized Mice for Improving the Human T and B Cell Immune Reconstitution.

      Kumar, Suresh; Koenig, Johannes; Schneider, Andreas; Wermeling, Fredrik; Boddul, Sanjaykumar; Theobald, Sebastian J; Vollmer, Miriam; Kloos, Doreen; Lachmann, Nico; Klawonn, Frank; et al. (MDPI, 2021-08-05)
      Humanized mouse models generated with human hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and reconstituting the human immune system (HIS-mice) are invigorating preclinical testing of vaccines and immunotherapies. We have recently shown that human engineered dendritic cells boosted bonafide human T and B cell maturation and antigen-specific responses in HIS-mice. Here, we evaluated a cell-free system based on in vivo co-delivery of lentiviral vectors (LVs) for expression of a human leukocyte antigen (HLA-DRA*01/ HLA-DRB1*0401 functional complex, "DR4"), and a LV vaccine expressing human cytokines (GM-CSF and IFN-α) and a human cytomegalovirus gB antigen (HCMV-gB). Humanized NOD/Rag1null/IL2Rγnull (NRG) mice injected by i.v. with LV-DR4/fLuc showed long-lasting (up to 20 weeks) vector distribution and expression in the spleen and liver. In vivo administration of the LV vaccine after LV-DR4/fLuc delivery boosted the cellularity of lymph nodes, promoted maturation of terminal effector CD4+ T cells, and promoted significantly higher development of IgG+ and IgA+ B cells. This modular lentigenic system opens several perspectives for basic human immunology research and preclinical utilization of LVs to deliver HLAs into HIS-mice.
    • PD-1 Blockade Aggravates Epstein-Barr Virus Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder in Humanized Mice Resulting in Central Nervous System Involvement and CD4 T Cell Dysregulations.

      Volk, Valery; Theobald, Sebastian J; Danisch, Simon; Khailaie, Sahamoddin; Kalbarczyk, Maja; Schneider, Andreas; Bialek-Waldmann, Julia; Krönke, Nicole; Deng, Yun; Eiz-Vesper, Britta; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-01-12)
      Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) is one of the most common malignancies after solid organ or allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Most PTLD cases are B cell neoplasias carrying Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). A therapeutic approach is reduction of immunosuppression to allow T cells to develop and combat EBV. If this is not effective, approaches include immunotherapies such as monoclonal antibodies targeting CD20 and adoptive T cells. Immune checkpoint inhibition (ICI) to treat EBV+ PTLD was not established clinically due to the risks of organ rejection and graft-versus-host disease. Previously, blockade of the programmed death receptor (PD)-1 by a monoclonal antibody (mAb) during ex vivo infection of mononuclear cells with the EBV/M81+ strain showed lower xenografted lymphoma development in mice. Subsequently, fully humanized mice infected with the EBV/B95-8 strain and treated in vivo with a PD-1 blocking mAb showed aggravation of PTLD and lymphoma development. Here, we evaluated vis-a-vis in fully humanized mice after EBV/B95-8 or EBV/M81 infections the effects of a clinically used PD-1 blocker. Fifteen to 17 weeks after human CD34+ stem cell transplantation, Nod.Rag.Gamma mice were infected with two types of EBV laboratory strains expressing firefly luciferase. Dynamic optical imaging analyses showed systemic EBV infections and this triggered vigorous human CD8+ T cell expansion. Pembrolizumab administered from 2 to 5 weeks post-infections significantly aggravated EBV systemic spread and, for the M81 model, significantly increased the mortality of mice. ICI promoted Ki67+CD30+CD20+EBER+PD-L1+ PTLD with central nervous system (CNS) involvement, mirroring EBV+ CNS PTLD in humans. PD-1 blockade was associated with lower frequencies of circulating T cells in blood and with a profound collapse of CD4+ T cells in lymphatic tissues. Mice treated with pembrolizumab showed an escalation of exhausted T cells expressing TIM-3, and LAG-3 in tissues, higher levels of several human cytokines in plasma and high densities of FoxP3+ regulatory CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the tumor microenvironment. We conclude that PD-1 blockade during acute EBV infections driving strong CD8+ T cell priming decompensates T cell development towards immunosuppression. Given the variety of preclinical models available, our models conferred a cautionary note indicating that PD-1 blockade aggravated the progression of EBV+ PTLD.