Oncolytic viruses (OVs) encoding a variety of transgenes have been evaluated as therapeutic tools to increase the efficacy of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)–modified T cells in the solid tumor microenvironment (TME). Here, using systemically delivered OVs and CAR T cells in immunocompetent mouse models, we have defined a mechanism by which OVs can potentiate CAR T cell efficacy against solid tumor models of melanoma and glioma. We show that stimulation of the native T cell receptor (TCR) with viral or virally encoded epitopes gives rise to enhanced proliferation, CAR-directed antitumor function, and distinct memory phenotypes. In vivo expansion of dual-specific (DS) CAR T cells was leveraged by in vitro preloading with oncolytic vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) or reovirus, allowing for a further in vivo expansion and reactivation of T cells by homologous boosting. This treatment led to prolonged survival of mice with subcutaneous melanoma and intracranial glioma tumors. Human CD19 CAR T cells could also be expanded in vitro with TCR reactivity against viral or virally encoded antigens and was associated with greater CAR-directed cytokine production. Our data highlight the utility of combining OV and CAR T cell therapy and show that stimulation of the native TCR can be exploited to enhance CAR T cell activity and efficacy in mice.
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