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1581 Selective Cell State in the Clonally Expanded T-Cell Compartment of Vκ*MYC Mice Responding to Treatment with Checkpoint Inhibitors

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 651. Multiple Myeloma and Plasma Cell Dyscrasias: Basic and Translational: Poster I
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Fundamental Science, Genomics, Translational Research, Bioinformatics, Animal Models, Plasma Cell Disorders, Immune Mechanism, Immunology, Diseases, Computational Biology, Therapies, Emerging Technologies, Lymphoid Malignancies, Biological Processes, Genomic Profiling, Technology and Procedures, Study Population
Saturday, December 11, 2021, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM

Danielle C Croucher, MSc1,2*, Laura M Richards1,2*, Zhihua Li, MSc1*, Ellen nong Wei, Msc1*, Xian Fang Huang3*, Daniel Waller, PhD3*, Marta Chesi, PhD4, P. Leif Bergsagel, MD5, Michael Sebag, MD, PhD6, Trevor J. Pugh, PhD1,2,7* and Suzanne Trudel, MD1,2

1Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada
2Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
3McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, QC, Canada
4Division of Hematology and Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ
5Division of Hematology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ
6Division of Hematology, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, QC, Canada
7Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, Canada

Introduction: Immune checkpoint receptor (ICR) blockade has emerged as an effective anti-tumour modality, but only in a subset of cancer patients. Moreover, in Multiple myeloma (MM), single-agent activity has not been observed, highlighting the need to better understand the mechanism of action of this class of drugs. We recently showed that combinatorial ICR blockade using αLAG3 and αPD-1 delays disease progression and improves survival in the transplantable Vκ*MYC model of MM (Croucher et al. ASH 2018). However, despite this being a controlled study with genetically-homogeneous tumours, anti-tumour immune responses were heterogeneous, with only a subset of mice demonstrating a delay in tumour progression (17/29 mice, response rate = 58.6%). Thus, using this model, we set out to define mechanisms underlying variability in response to ICR blockade.

Methods: We established a cohort of mice by engrafting 5-week-old C57BL/6 mice with Vκ12598 cells via tail vein injection. Treatment with αLAG3/αPD-1 or Ig-control was initiated 1-week post-engraftment and bone marrow (BM) samples were collected 3 weeks after the start of treatment. Following FACS-enrichment of T cells and plasma cells (PCs), single cell suspensions were subjected to matched single-cell gene expression (5’ scRNA-seq) and T cell receptor (TCR)/B cell receptor (BCR) profiling (10x Genomics).

Results: Samples were selected for profiling based on response to treatment, with responders (n=4) defined by significantly lower disease burden compared to non-responders (n=3) and control-treated mice (n=5), as measured by serum M-protein and %PCs in BM/spleen at sacrifice. Unsupervised clustering of scRNA-seq data from PCs (n=3,318 cells) identified no gene expression or BCR repertoire differences between control and treated, or between responder and non-responder samples, supporting that variability in response was not related to malignant Vκ12598 cells themselves. Across all samples, a statistically significant difference was not detected between the total number of unique TCR sequences (clonotypes) comparing control-treated (351-2369), non-responders (1185-2327) and responders (1378-1698), with no overlapping TCR sequences between top clonotypes. Evaluation of TCR repertoire diversity revealed that αLAG3/αPD-1 treatment induces clonal T cell expansion in control versus treated mice, but this was not significantly different between responders and non-responders. Analysis of paired scRNA-seq data (n=21,520 cells) revealed that expanded T cells from αLAG3/αPD-1-treated mice occupy a different cell state in responder vs. non-responder mice. We speculate that underlying differences in the TCR repertoire may dictate the downstream phenotype of expanded, anti-tumour T cells in mice treated with combinatorial αLAG3/αPD-1. Tumour control following treatment was associated with clonal expansion of T cells expressing genes related to cytoxicity and activation (Ccl5, Ifng, Fasl, Gzmb), whereas tumour progression was associated with clonal expansion of proliferative T cells (Cdkn3, Birc5, Ccna2, Aurka, Mki67). Although T cell proliferation is typically a phenotype ascribed to effector T cells, recent studies have similarly observed this proliferative cell state in dysfunctional T cells within melanoma tumours. Moreover, emerging evidence supports suppression of T cell proliferation by CDK4/6 inhibitors as a means to augment anti-tumour activity of ICR-based therapy. Thus, studies exploring whether reversal of the observed proliferative T cell state can restore response to αLAG3/αPD-1 treatment in non-responding Vκ12598 mice are ongoing and will be reported.

Conclusions: ICR inhibitors demonstrate significant activity in some cancers, however many patients fail to respond and a similarly promising level of efficacy has not been achieved in MM. Studies aimed at unraveling the mechanisms of response and resistance to ICR inhibitors are therefore needed to improve the utility of this class of drugs for all patients. Our approach of using paired single-cell gene expression and TCR repertoire profiling has enabled identification of molecular cell states specifically in expanded T cells of responder vs. non-responder mice. In turn, our work nominates novel mechanisms that may be used as potential biomarkers for anti-tumour immune responses as well as potential targets to augment responses to ICR blockade therapy.

Disclosures: Chesi: Abcuro: Patents & Royalties: Genetically engineered mouse model of myeloma; Novartis: Consultancy, Patents & Royalties: human CRBN transgenic mouse; Pfizer: Consultancy; Pi Therapeutics: Patents & Royalties: Genetically engineered mouse model of myeloma; Palleon Pharmaceuticals: Patents & Royalties: Genetically engineered mouse model of myeloma. Bergsagel: GSK: Consultancy, Honoraria; Genetech: Consultancy, Honoraria; Janssen: Consultancy, Honoraria; Oncopeptides: Consultancy, Honoraria; Novartis: Consultancy, Honoraria, Patents & Royalties: human CRBN mouse; Pfizer: Consultancy, Honoraria; Celgene: Consultancy, Honoraria. Sebag: Janssen: Research Funding; Bristol Myers-Squibb: Consultancy, Honoraria; Takeda: Consultancy, Honoraria; Novartis: Consultancy, Honoraria; Amgen: Consultancy, Honoraria; Sanofi: Consultancy, Honoraria; Karyopharm Therapeutics: Consultancy, Honoraria. Trudel: BMS/Celgene: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Amgen: Honoraria, Research Funding; Janssen: Honoraria, Research Funding; GlaxoSmithKline: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Roche: Consultancy; Sanofi: Honoraria; Pfizer: Honoraria, Research Funding; Genentech: Research Funding.

*signifies non-member of ASH