Design of cassette vectors permitting cloning of all types of human TCR variable alpha and beta regions.
Caivano A., D'Apice L., Tiberio C., Prisco A., Acuto O., Guardiola J., De Berardinis P.
T cell clones are an irreplaceable asset for the study of immune responses relevant to human pathologies. Such cells, however, cannot always be maintained in long-term culture. In order to reconstitute functional human T cell receptors (TCRs) into stable and fast growing hybridoma T cells, we developed a general approach based on a versatile cassette system, which allows cloning of all types of human T cell receptor variable alpha and beta region genes fused to murine constant regions. These chimeric constructs are easily excised and transferred into expression vectors that can be used to transfect a human CD4-expressing murine T cell hybridoma recipient. The resulting transfectants are highly stable both in terms of T cell receptor-CD3 expression and IL-2 response to the specific antigenic stimulus. Using these cassette vectors, we reconstituted the original HLA-restricted antigen specificity for two human T cell clones, one recognizing an immunodominant epitope of HIV-1 gp120, and the other recognizing an immunodominant epitope of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. We found that the reconstituted hybridomas maintain the ability of the original T cell clones to recognize the appropriate epitope in the context of the relevant MHC either as a synthetic peptide or after processing. Their unlimited growth capacity makes them particularly suited for in vitro studies.