Ask A Scientist: How Can I Use Antigen-Specific T Cells?

Antigen-specific T cells have many excellent use cases in the lab for early-stage research and discovery. As we continue to develop novel antigen-specific T cell lines — including those specific to tumors, diabetes, and viruses — more use cases are coming to light. 

If you’re working in an academic or biopharma research lab, consider antigen-specific T cells to help you achieve some of the following results.

Antigen-Specific T Cell Use Cases

Inhibition of T Cell Proliferation

CD4+ T cells proliferate readily when stimulated with antigen-presenting cells (APC) and peptide antigens. Several methods can be applied for measuring proliferation, including 3H-Thymidine uptake, BrdU uptake, ATP luminescence, and CFSE dye reduction. Since T cells typically exhibit robust cell growth, the ability of test compounds to inhibit T cell proliferation can be evaluated. 

We currently have CD4+ T cell lines specific for proinsulin, myelin basic protein, and tetanus toxoid. 

Modulation of Cytokine Secretion

Either CD4+ or CD8+ T cell lines can be used to investigate modulation of cytokine secretion as both subsets will make IFNγ. However, if effects on IL-13, IL-10, or IL-5 are of interest, we have only observed production of these cytokines with our CD4+ T cell lines. 

Learn more about cytokine measurement assays here.

Antigen-Specific T Cells Available for Overnight Delivery

Cytotoxicity

Use our CD8+ T cell lines to kill target cells that express the appropriate HLA allele and the antigen of interest. Our customers have used our cytotoxic T cells to measure the presentation of antigen that has been introduced in novel ways.

Peptide antigens will interact with HLA molecules on the cell surface, but full-length proteins must enter the target cell, be degraded, and meet up with the HLA molecules in the endoplasmic reticulum. 

Various methods have been developed to introduce foreign proteins into this pathway and success can be measured by the ability of T cells to kill the antigen-loaded targets. 

Antigen Modification

Some antigens can be modified and improved upon. One example is the MART-1 peptide recognized by our anti MART-1 T cells. The natural sequence of the peptide is AAGIGILTV, but using a modified sequence of ELAGIGILTV improves binding to HLA-A*02:01 and also improves the ability of the antigen to stimulate T cells. 

These kinds of insights are valuable when designing vaccines for cancers or infectious diseases.  

Have more antigen-specific T cell questions?

View our collection of resources or ask a scientist to get a direct answer. We look forward to hearing from you!

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