Induction of donor type chimerism under reduced intensity conditioning in the absence of GVHD represents a major challenge in transplantation biology. Despite their remarkable potent veto activity, CD8 CTLs could not be used to enhance engraftment due to their GVH reactivity. To address this problem we developed a new approach for the generation of human host-nonreactive CTLs, based on stimulation of donor CD8 T cells against 3rd party stimulators under IL-2 deprivation. A major attribute of such anti-3rd party CTLs reported recently by our group is their ability to eradicate pathological B-CLL cells. This B-CLL killing was shown to be independent of TCR recognition and it was found to be mediated both by autologous and by allogeneic anti-3rd party CTLs. In the present study we demonstrate that anti-3rd party CTLs can also efficiently eradicate primary mantle lymphoma cells and Burkitt and mantle cell-lines. Furthermore, the use of lymphoma cell lines has enabled to define several aspects of the mechanism leading to their apoptosis. Thus, we found that anti-3rd party CTLs avidly bind to target lymphoma cells and form stable aggregates within the first minutes of contact. Conjugate formation as well as the actual killing of the tumor cells were effectively inhibited by blocking antibodies against LFA1 or ICAM1 but not against ICAM3. Moreover, effective inhibition was attained only when applying anti-LFA1 to the CTLs and anti-ICAM1 to the tumor cells (100%±10% and 72%±7% inhibition, respectively) but not vice-versa. Given the role of CD8-MHC class I interaction in veto mechanisms, we sought to evaluate its role in the killing of lymphoma cells by human anti-3rd party CTLs. Indeed, in 10 experiments survival of target lymphoma cells was increased from 50%±5% to 82%±1% upon addition of anti HLA-ABC Ab to the incubation with anti 3rd party CTLs. A similar survival increase to 77.5%±1% was found upon the addition of anti-CD8 Ab, suggesting that CD8 binding to MHC class I constant region is required for lymphoma cell killing. The important role of MHC class I was further established by comparing CTL-mediated killing of Daudi lymphoma cells lacking cell surface MHC class I expression and Daudi cells with reconstituted surface MHC class I due to stable β2-microglobulin overexpression (β2m-Daudi). Thus in contrast to the poor killing of Daudi cells which did not exceed 20%, the β2m-Daudi cell killing was comparable to that exhibited with burkitt lymphoma line expressing MHC class1 (56%±1% and 63%±3%, respectively in 4 experiments). Importantly, FACS analysis showed that, MHC I expression did not influence conjugate formation, but was rather involved in the induction of apoptosis (annexin V). Furthermore, a similar pattern was also found in vivo when β2m-Daudi or Daudi cells were infused into the peritoneum of SCID mice in the presence or absence of a 2.5-fold excess of anti 3rd party CTLs. In 3 experiments, FACS analysis of the cells recovered from the peritoneum showed that the CTLs killed 91% of the β2m-Daudi cells as opposed to 13% killing of the Daudi cells. Taken together, our results suggest that TCR independent killing of B cell malignancies by anti-3rd party CTLs is mediated via a rapid adhesion through ICAM1-LFA1 binding, followed by slow induction of apoptosis upon a critical interaction between CD8 on the CTL and MHC class I on the tumor cell.

Author notes

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.