DOI: 10.7554/elife.83659 ISSN: 2050-084X

Population dynamics of immunological synapse formation induced by bispecific T cell engagers predict clinical pharmacodynamics and treatment resistance

Can Liu, Jiawei Zhou, Stephan Kudlacek, Timothy Qi, Tyler Dunlap, Yanguang Cao
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience

Effector T cells need to form immunological synapses (IS) with recognized target cells to elicit cytolytic effects. Facilitating IS formation is the principal pharmacological action of most T cell-based cancer immunotherapies. However, the dynamics of IS formation at the cell population level, the primary driver of the pharmacodynamics of many cancer immunotherapies, remains poorly defined. Using classic immunotherapy CD3/CD19 bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) as our model system, we integrate experimental and theoretical approaches to investigate the population dynamics of IS formation and their relevance to clinical pharmacodynamics and treatment resistance. Our models produce experimentally consistent predictions when defining IS formation as a series of spatiotemporally coordinated events driven by molecular and cellular interactions. The models predict tumor-killing pharmacodynamics in patients and reveal trajectories of tumor evolution across anatomical sites under BiTE immunotherapy. Our models highlight the bone marrow as a potential sanctuary site permitting tumor evolution and antigen escape. The models also suggest that optimal dosing regimens are a function of tumor growth, CD19 expression, and patient T cell abundance, which confer adequate tumor control with reduced disease evolution. This work has implications for developing more effective T cell-based cancer immunotherapies.

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