Cell to cell signaling via AKT causes T cell differentiation and collapse of tumour stroma

Leonardi, Anthony Joseph (2018) Cell to cell signaling via AKT causes T cell differentiation and collapse of tumour stroma. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Adoptive Cell Therapy of cancer using T cells is entering mainstream practice after years as a research method. Central to the efficacy of this “living therapy” is the function of the T cells transferred. T-cells, like other primary tissue cells, undergo differentiation and death. Clinical and preclinical data shows that lesser differentiated, less glycolytic, and more proliferative-capable cells used for the adoptive transfer yield superior tumor responses. This introductory section will describe discoveries which elucidate and control T-cell differentiation and function for the improvement of adoptive cell therapy. Namely by use of inhibition of the PI3k/AKT pathways, and through the discovery of a dual function of death and differentiation by the canonical death receptor Fas, which can be parsed apart with a mutation from valine to cysteine at the 194 position (C194V), differentiation can be withheld while leaving cell proliferation unhindered during T-cell stimulation and expansion. The data also reveals that the differentiation signal caused by extracellular Fas ligation passes through AKT, revealing both Fas and AKT as points of intervention for targeting differentiation along the same pathway. From further investigation, this introduction will describe the effect of AKT inhibition on T-cell differentiation on a transciptional and metabolic level. The data reveals AKT inhibition promoted FOXO1 intranuclear organization, which creates a more naive-like phenotype to the cells, and lower glycolytic status, another phenotype associated with persistent and long-lived cells. Furthermore, this control of AKT and Fas in T-cells yields benefits in several modalities of pre-clinical models of adoptive T-cell immunotherapy of cancer, in both use of a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and with use of Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TIL). Finally, the real-world applicability of the finding including the use of AKT inhibition in current approved Adoptive T-cell immunotherapies will be discussed.

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