Adoptive immunotherapies using T cells genetically redirected with a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) or T cell receptor (TCR) are entering mainstream clinical practice. Despite encouraging results, some patients do not respond to current therapies. In part, this phenomenon has been associated with infusion of reduced numbers of early memory T cells. Herein, we report that AKT signaling inhibition is compatible with CAR and TCR retroviral transduction of human T cells while promoting a CD62L-expressing central memory phenotype. Critically, this intervention did not compromise cell yield. Mechanistically, disruption of AKT signaling preserved MAPK activation and promoted the intranuclear localization of FOXO1, a transcriptional regulator of T cell memory. Consequently, AKT signaling inhibition synchronized the transcriptional profile for FOXO1-dependent target genes across multiple donors. Expression of an AKT-resistant FOXO1 mutant phenocopied the influence of AKT signaling inhibition, while addition of AKT signaling inhibition to T cells expressing mutant FOXO1 failed to further augment the frequency of CD62L-expressing cells. Finally, treatment of established B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia was superior using anti-CD19 CAR–modified T cells transduced and expanded in the presence of an AKT inhibitor compared with conventionally grown T cells. Thus, inhibition of signaling along the PI3K/AKT axis represents a generalizable strategy to generate large numbers of receptor-modified T cells with an early memory phenotype and superior antitumor efficacy.
Christopher A. Klebanoff, Joseph G. Crompton, Anthony J. Leonardi, Tori N. Yamamoto, Smita S. Chandran, Robert L. Eil, Madhusudhanan Sukumar, Suman K. Vodnala, Jinhui Hu, Yun Ji, David Clever, Mary A. Black, Devikala Gurusamy, Michael J. Kruhlak, Ping Jin, David F. Stroncek, Luca Gattinoni, Steven A. Feldman, Nicholas P. Restifo
Blockade of AKT signaling minimizes gene expression changes associated with human T cell differentiation and promotes nuclear accumulation of the transcription factor FOXO1.