Richards RM, Zhao F, Freitas KA, Parker KR, Xu P, Fan A, Sotillo E, Daugaard M, Oo HZ, Liu J, Hong WJ, Sorensen PH, Chang HY, Satpathy AT, Majzner RG, Majeti R, Mackall CL.
Blood Cancer Discovery, 16 September 2021

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells hold promise for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), but optimal targets remain to be defined. We demonstrate that CD93 CAR T cells engineered from a novel humanized CD93-specific binder potently kill AML in vitro and in vivo but spare hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC). No toxicity is seen in murine models, but CD93 is expressed on human endothelial cells, and CD93 CAR T cells recognize and kill endothelial cell lines. We identify other AML CAR T-cell targets with overlapping expression on endothelial cells, especially in the context of proinflammatory cytokines. To address the challenge of endothelial-specific cross-reactivity, we provide proof of concept for NOT-gated CD93 CAR T cells that circumvent endothelial cell toxicity in a relevant model system. We also identify candidates for combinatorial targeting by profiling the transcriptome of AML and endothelial cells at baseline and after exposure to proinflammatory cytokines.