Date of Graduation

5-2013

Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Immunology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Laszlo G. Radvanyi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Russell Broaddus, M.D., Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dapeng Zhou, M.D., Ph.D.

Committee Member

Qing Ma, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Qing Yi, M.D., Ph.D.

Abstract

CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) frequently infiltrate tumors, yet most melanoma patients fail to undergo tumor regression. We studied the differentiation of the CD8+ tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) from 44 metastatic melanoma patients using known T-cell differentiation markers. We also compared CD8+ TIL against the T cells from matched melanoma patients’ peripheral blood. We discovered a novel subset of CD8+ TIL co-expressing early-differentiation markers, CD27, CD28, and a late/senescent CTL differentiation marker, CD57. This CD8+CD57+ TIL expressed a cytolytic enzyme, granzyme B (GB), yet did not express another cytolytic pore-forming molecule, perforin (Perf). In contrast, the CD8+CD57+ T cells in the periphery were CD27-CD28-, and GBHi and PerfHi. We found this TIL subset was not senescent and could be induced to proliferate and differentiate into CD27-CD57+, perforinHi, mature CTL. This further differentiation was arrested by TGF-β1, an immunosuppressive cytokine known to be produced by many different kinds of tumors. Therefore, we have identified a novel subset of incompletely differentiated CD8+ TIL that resembled those found in patients with uncontrolled chronic viral infections.

In a related study, we explored prognostic biomarkers in metastatic melanoma patients treated in a Phase II Adoptive Cell Therapy (ACT) trial, in which autologous TIL were expanded ex vivo with IL-2 and infused into lymphodepleted patients. We unexpectedly found a significant positive clinical association with the infused CD8+ TIL expressing B- and T- lymphocyte attentuator (BTLA), an inhibitory T-cell receptor. We found that CD8+BTLA+ TIL had a superior proliferative response to IL-2, and were more capable of autocrine IL-2 production in response to TCR stimulation compared to the CD8+BTLA- TIL. The CD8+BTLA+ TIL were less differentiated and resembled the incompletely differentiated CD8+ TIL described above. In contrast, CD8+BTLA- TIL were poorly proliferative, expressed CD45RA and killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs), and exhibited a gene expression signature of T cell deletion. Surprisingly, ligation of BTLA by its cognate receptor, HVEM, enhanced the survival of CD8+BTLA+ TIL by activating Akt/PKB. Our studies provide a comprehensive characterization of CD8+ TIL differentiation in melanoma, and revealed BTLA as a novel T-cell differentiation marker along with its role in promoting T cell survival.

Keywords

Adoptive T-cell Therapy, CD8+ effector memory, Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes, Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, Melanoma, B and T Lymphocyte Attenuator, T-cell survival/persistence