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Luciferase Reporter Cell Lines Allow Simultaneous Incorporation of Tumor Cells, Innate Immune Cells, and Adaptive Immune Cells for In-Depth Immune Checkpoint Studies

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AACR Annual Meeting 2024

San Diego, California, United States

April 07, 2024


Despite the considerable success of immune checkpoint therapies targeting T cells, a sizable proportion of patients experience resistance or relapse due to the immunosuppressive nature of the tumor microenvironment. Myeloid cells, a major component that suppresses effector lymphocytes, have emerged as an alternative and promising therapeutic target. However, there is a deep lack of widely accessible immunological models capable of representing the intricate three-way interaction between tumor cells, T cells, and myeloid cells. To address this need, we conducted a comprehensive protein profiling of human tumor and immune cell lines available at ATCC for various established and novel immune checkpoint molecules. Cell lines with high endogenous expression of the immune checkpoint proteins programmed death-ligand 1 and 2 (PD-L1 and PD-L2), cluster of differentiation 155 (CD155), B7 homolog 3 (B7-H3), sialic acid-binding Ig-like lectin 10 (Siglec-10), or signal-regulatory protein alpha (SIRPα) were selected and constructed into luciferase reporter cell lines. For tumor reporter cell lines, a gamma interferon activation site (GAS) response element was placed upstream of the luciferase gene in the lentiviral vector, enabling the activation of the JAK-STAT signaling pathway within tumor cells to induce luciferase expression. In myeloid reporter cell lines, a nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) response element replaced GAS to monitor the activation of the NF-κB signaling pathway. In the presence of corresponding immune checkpoint inhibitors that enhance T cell–mediated anti-tumor activity, these reporter cell lines produce a bioluminescent signal based on luciferase expression. This signal can be easily detected and quantified to assess the efficacy of the inhibitor. Our data revealed that bioluminescence intensity in the tumor and myeloid reporter cell lines increased by >100-fold in a dose-dependent manner in response to interferon gamma (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) stimulation, respectively, and by >50-fold in response to the conditioned media collected from activated primary T cells. Furthermore, in co-culture assays involving various combinations of immune cell and tumor cell types with corresponding immune checkpoint inhibitors, these reporter cell lines demonstrated a significant increase in bioluminescence intensity. In conclusion, these newly established luciferase reporter cell lines offer an excellent ex vivo model for cancer immunotherapy. These cell lines naturally express immune checkpoint proteins, enabling the sensitive and reproducible monitoring of combinatorial responses from various immune cell types.

Download the poster to learn how checkpoint luciferase reporter cells enable the sensitive and reproducible monitoring of combinatorial responses from various immune cell types.



Hyeyoun Chang, headshot

Hyeyoun Chang, PhD

Scientist, ATCC

Hyeyoun Chang, PhD, is a Scientist in the Immuno-oncology group of the R&D department at ATCC. She has extensive experience in the fields of biomedical engineering and cancer biology that focuses on drug delivery, intracellular signaling, and gene therapy. Prior to joining ATCC, Dr. Chang received her PhD in biomedical engineering from Korea University of Science and Technology and completed her postdoctoral training at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/ Harvard Medical School.