Chimeric antigen receptors that trigger phagocytosis.

eLife (2018-06-05)
Meghan A Morrissey, Adam P Williamson, Adriana M Steinbach, Edward W Roberts, Nadja Kern, Mark B Headley, Ronald D Vale

Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are synthetic receptors that reprogram T cells to kill cancer. The success of CAR-T cell therapies highlights the promise of programmed immunity and suggests that applying CAR strategies to other immune cell lineages may be beneficial. Here, we engineered a family of Chimeric Antigen Receptors for Phagocytosis (CAR-Ps) that direct macrophages to engulf specific targets, including cancer cells. CAR-Ps consist of an extracellular antibody fragment, which can be modified to direct CAR-P activity towards specific antigens. By screening a panel of engulfment receptor intracellular domains, we found that the cytosolic domains from Megf10 and FcRɣ robustly triggered engulfment independently of their native extracellular domain. We show that CAR-Ps drive specific engulfment of antigen-coated synthetic particles and whole human cancer cells. Addition of a tandem PI3K recruitment domain increased cancer cell engulfment. Finally, we show that CAR-P expressing murine macrophages reduce cancer cell number in co-culture by over 40%.