Adoptive immunotherapy with ex vivo generated cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) is applied for the treatment of leukemia relapses or viral infections after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. A common problem of adoptive immunotherapy strategies is the ex vivo expansion of the generated T cells to sufficient numbers. CTLs can be efficiently expanded by ectopic expression of the human telomerase gene (hTert). However, hTert transduction may also increase the chance for malignant transformation. Therefore, we explored the feasibility of suicide gene control of ex vivo generated CTLs expanded through the ectopic expression of hTert. To this end, we compared the efficacy of the new Escherichia coli-nitroreductase (E. coli-Ntr) suicide gene with the well-known herpes simplex virus-thymidine kinase (HSV-Tk). Introduction of hTert provided the transduced CTLs with a distinct growth advantage over the nontransduced CTLs. The hTert-E. coli-Ntr double-transduced CTLs retained their antigen-specific functions. Treatment of hTert-E. coli-Ntr double-transduced CTLs with metronidazole significantly inhibited the proliferation to a similar extent to the treatment of hTert-HSV-Tk double-transduced CTLs with ganciclovir. This is the first application of the E. coli-nitroreductase gene for the elimination of human T cells with metronidazole.
- E. coli-nitroreductase
- Herpes simplex virus-thymidine kinase
- Suicide genes