Transient blockade of TBK1/IKKε allows efficient transduction of primary human natural killer cells with vesicular stomatitis virus G-pseudotyped lentiviral vectors

Background aims: Vesicular stomatitis virus G (VSV-G)-pseudotyped lentiviral vectors (LVs) are widely used to reliably generate genetically modified, clinical-grade T-cell products. However, the results of genetically modifying natural killer (NK) cells with VSV-G LVs have been variable. The authors explored whether inhibition of the IKK-related protein kinases TBK1 and IKKε, key signaling molecules of the endosomal TLR4 pathway, which is activated by VSV-G, would enable the reliable transduction of NK cells by VSV-G LVs.

Methods: The authors activated NK cells from peripheral blood mononuclear cells using standard procedures and transduced them with VSV-G LVs encoding a marker gene (yellow fluorescent protein [YFP]) or functional genes (chimeric antigen receptors [CARs], co-stimulatory molecules) in the presence of three TBK1/IKKε inhibitors (MRT67307, BX-795, amlexanox). NK cell transduction was evaluated by flow cytometry and/or western blot and the functionality of expressed CARs was evaluated in vitro.

Results: Blocking TBK1/IKKε during transduction of NK cells enabled their efficient transduction by VSV-G LVs as judged by YFPexpression of 40-50%, with half maximal effective concentrations of 1.1 µM (MRT67307), 5 µM (BX-795) and 24.8 µM (amlexanox). Focusing on MRT67307, the authors successfully generated NK cells expressing CD19-CARs or HER2-CARs with an inducible co-stimulatory molecule. CAR NK cells exhibited increased cytolytic activity and ability to produce cytokines in comparison to untreated controls, confirming CAR functionality.

Conclusions: The authors demonstrate that inhibition of TBK1/IKKε enables the reliable generation of genetically modified NK cells using VSV-G LVs. The authors' protocol can be readily adapted to generate clinical-grade NK cells and thus has the potential to facilitate the clinical evaluation of genetically modified NK cell-based therapeutics in the future.

Related Products

Cat.No. Product Name Information
S7948 MRT67307 HCl MRT67307 is a potent and dual IKKϵ and TBK1 inhibitor with IC50 of 160 and 19 nM, respectively. MRT67307 potently inhibits ULK1 and ULK2 and blocks autophagy.

Related Targets

Autophagy ULK IκB/IKK TBK1