Impaired T cell proliferation by ex vivo BET-inhibition impedes adoptive immunotherapy in a murine melanoma model

Jonathan Chee, Chelsea Wilson, Anthony Buzzai, Ben Wylie, Catherine A Forbes, Mitchell Booth, Nicola Principe, Bree Foley, Mark N Cruickshank, Jason Waithman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Web of Science)


Activation of naïve CD8+ T cells stimulates proliferation and differentiation into cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTLs). Adoptive T Cell Therapy (ACT) involves multiple rounds of ex vivo activation to generate enough CTLs for reinfusion into patients, but this drives differentiation into terminal effector T cells. Less differentiated CTL populations, such as stem cell memory T cells, are more ideal candidates for ACT because of increased self-renewal and persistent properties. Ex vivo targeting of T cell differentiation with epigenetic modifiers is a potential strategy to improve cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) generation for ACT. We established a pipeline to assess the effects of epigenetic modifiers on CD8+ T cell proliferation, differentiation, and efficacy in a preclinical melanoma model. Single treatment with epigenetic modifiers inhibited T cell proliferation in vitro, producing CD44hiCD62Lhi effector-like T cells rather than a stem cell memory T cell phenotype. Most epigenetic modifying agents had no significant effect on ACT efficacy with the notable exception of the bromodomain and extraterminal (BET)-inhibitor JQ1 which was associated with a decrease in efficacy compared to unmodified T cells. These findings reveal the complexity of epigenetic targeting of T cell differentiation, highlighting the need to precisely define the epigenetic targeting strategies to improve CTL generation for ACT.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-144
Number of pages11
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


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