The Notch signaling ligand JAG1 is overexpressed in various aggressive tumors and is associated with poor clinical prognosis. Hence, therapies targeting oncogenic JAG1 hold great potential for the treatment of certain tumors. Here, we report the identification of specific anti-JAG1 single-chain variable fragments (scFvs), one of them endowing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells with cytotoxicity against JAG1-positive cells. Anti-JAG1 scFvs were identified from human phage display libraries, reformatted into full-length monoclonal antibodies (Abs), and produced in mammalian cells. The characterization of these Abs identified two specific anti-JAG1 Abs (J1.B5 and J1.F1) with nanomolar affinities. Cloning the respective scFv sequences in our second- and third-generation CAR backbones resulted in six anti-JAG1 CAR constructs, which were screened for JAG1-mediated T-cell activation in Jurkat T cells in coculture assays with JAG1-positive cell lines. Studies in primary T cells demonstrated that one CAR harboring the J1.B5 scFv significantly induced effective T-cell activation in the presence of JAG1-positive, but not in JAG1-knockout, cancer cells, and enabled specific killing of JAG1-positive cells. Thus, this new anti-JAG1 scFv represents a promising candidate for the development of cell therapies against JAG1-positive tumors.
- cell therapy
- chimeric antigen receptor
- cytotoxic activity
- Notch signaling
- single-chain variable fragment