New marker for CD8+ T cells with increased cytotoxic potential

Benoit Nicolet, from the Wolkers lab, discovered that CD29 identifies human CD8+ T cells with a high cytotoxic potential. This feature could provide novel potential to improve T cell therapies for patients. The study has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Human CD8+ T cells can effectively kill virally infected cells and tumor cells. However, not all CD8+ T cells are equally efficient herein, yet a method to identify T cells with high killing capacity was lacking. To study the features of human T cells, Benoit Nicolet developed a method that allowed him to dissect the transcriptome and proteome of human CD8+ T cells based on their cytokine production profile.

Potentiated killing

This method resulted in the identification of the marker CD29 (Integrin beta 1), which identifies CD8+ T cells with the potential to produce high levels of IFN-g and of cytotoxic molecules upon activation. Pre-selecting CD8+ T cells based on CD29 expression potentiated the killing capacity of CD8+ T cell products. Furthermore, a core signature of CD29+ T cells had a good predictive value for survival in melanoma patients.

In conclusion, this study provides new fundamental insights in the heterogeneity and functionality of human CD8+ T cells, which could be used to potentiate the efficacy of adoptive T cell therapies.

This work was financed by the Landsteiner Foundation of Blood Transfusion Research (LSBR), the Dutch Science Foundation, and by the Dutch Cancer Society