Mol Ther 2015 Aug 5;23(8):1380-1390. Epub 2015 May 5.
National Cancer Institute, Surgery Branch, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Electronic address:
Programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) is expressed on activated T cells and represents an attractive target for gene-editing of tumor targeted T cells prior to adoptive cell transfer (ACT). We used zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) directed against the gene encoding human PD-1 (PDCD-1) to gene-edit melanoma tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL). We show that our clinical scale TIL production process yielded efficient modification of the PD-1 gene locus, with an average modification frequency of 74.8% (n = 3, range 69.9-84.1%) of the alleles in a bulk TIL population, which resulted in a 76% reduction in PD-1 surface-expression. Forty to 48% of PD-1 gene-edited cells had biallelic PD-1 modification. Importantly, the PD-1 gene-edited TIL product showed improved in vitro effector function and a significantly increased polyfunctional cytokine profile (TNFα, GM-CSF, and IFNγ) compared to unmodified TIL in two of the three donors tested. In addition, all donor cells displayed an effector memory phenotype and expanded approximately 500-2,000-fold in vitro. Thus, further study to determine the efficiency and safety of adoptive cell transfer using PD-1 gene-edited TIL for the treatment of metastatic melanoma is warranted.