3 years ago

Sickle cells produce functional immune modulators and cytotoxics

David S. Terman, Tim Townes, David S. Bradley, Peter L. Knopick, Li-Chen Wu, Chiao-Wang Sun
Sickle erythrocytes' (SSRBCs) unique physical adaptation to hypoxic conditions renders them able to home to hypoxic tumor niches in vivo, shut down tumor blood flow and induce tumoricidal responses. SSRBCs are also useful vehicles for transport of encapsulated drugs and oncolytic virus into hypoxic tumors with enhanced anti-tumor effects. In search of additional modes for arming sickle cells with cytotoxics, we turned to a lentiviral β-globin vector with optimized Locus Control Region/β-globin coding region/promoter/enhancers. We partially replaced the β-globin coding region of this vector with genes encoding T cell cytolytics, perforin and granzyme or immune modulating superantigens SEG and SEI. These modified vectors efficiently transduced Sca+ckit-Lin- hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from humanized sickle cell knockin mice. Irradiated mice reconstituted with these HSCs displayed robust expression of transgenic RNAs and proteins in host sickle cells that was sustained for more than 10 months. SSRBCs from reconstituted mice harboring SEG/SEI transgenes induced robust proliferation and a prototypical superantigen-induced cytokine reaction when exposed to human CD4+/CD8+ cells. The β-globin lentiviral vector therefore produces a high level of functional, erythroid-specific immune modulators and cytotoxics that circulate without toxicity. Coupled with their unique ability to target and occlude hypoxic tumor vessels these armed SSRBCs constitute a potentially useful tool for treatment of solid tumors.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/ajh.24836

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