[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: T cells have the capacity to eliminate tumors but the signaling pathways by which they do so are incompletely understood. T cell priming requires activation of the transcription factors AP-1, NFAT and NF-κB downstream of the TCR, but whether activation of T cell-NF-κB in vivo is required for tumor control has not been addressed. In humans and mice with progressively growing tumors, the activity of T cell-intrinsic NF-κB is often reduced. However, it is not clear if this is causal for an inability to reject transformed cells, or if it is a consequence of tumor growth. T cell-NF-κB is important for T cell survival and effector differentiation and plays an important role in enabling T cells to reject cardiac and islet allografts, suggesting the possibility that it may also be required for tumor elimination. In this study, we tested whether normal T cell-NF-κB activation is necessary for the rejection of tumors whose growth is normally controlled by the immune system.
Mice with genetically impaired T cell-NF-κB activity were subcutaneously injected with MC57-SIY tumor cells. Tumor growth was measured over time, and the anti-tumor immune response was evaluated using flow cytometry and cytokine detection assays.
Mice with impaired T cell-NF-κB activity were unable to reject tumors that were otherwise eliminated by wildtype mice, despite equal accumulation of tumor-reactive T cells. In addition, specific impairment of NF-κB signaling downstream of the TCR was sufficient to prevent tumor rejection. Tumor antigen-specific T cell-IFN-γ and TNF-α production, as well as cytotoxic ability, were all reduced in mice with impaired T cell-NF-κB, suggesting an important role for this transcription factor in the effector differentiation of tumor-specific effector T cells.
Our results have identified the NF-κB pathway as an important signaling axis in T cells, required for the elimination of growing tumors in vivo. Maintaining or enhancing T cell-NF-κB activity may be a promising avenue for anti-tumor immunotherapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: T cell infiltration of solid tumors is associated with favorable patient outcomes, yet the mechanisms underlying variable immune responses between individuals are not well understood. One possible modulator could be the intestinal microbiota. We compared melanoma growth in mice harboring distinct commensal microbiota and observed differences in spontaneous antitumor immunity, which were eliminated upon cohousing or following fecal transfer. 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing identified Bifidobacterium as associated with the antitumor effects. Oral administration of Bifidobacterium alone improved tumor control to the same degree as anti-PD-L1 therapy (checkpoint blockade), and combination treatment nearly abolished tumor outgrowth. Augmented dendritic cell function leading to enhanced CD8(+) T cell priming and accumulation in the tumor microenvironment mediated the effect. Our data suggest that manipulating the microbiota may modulate cancer immunotherapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Increasing evidence is emerging that immunotherapeutic interventions, including checkpoint blockade, are predominantly effective in patients with a pre-existing T cell-inflamed tumor microenvironment. Understanding the mechanisms leading to a non-T cell-inflamed microenvironment are crucial for the development of novel treatment modalities to expand the fraction of patients benefiting from immunotherapy. Based on the hypothesis that one source of inter-patient heterogeneity would lie at differential activation of specific oncogene pathways within the tumor cells themselves, our group recently observed that tumor-cell intrinsic activation of the WNT/β-catenin pathway correlates with absence of T cells from the microenvironment in metastatic melanoma. Genetically-engineered mouse models confirmed a causal relationship, via a mechanism of failed Batf3-lineage dendritic cell recruitment. Hence, tumor cell-intrinsic activation of β-catenin is the first oncogenic pathway demonstrated to exclude the anti-tumor immune response, revealing a potential therapeutic target for improving immunotherapy responsiveness.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Novel immunotherapy approaches are transforming the treatment of cancer, yet many patients remain refractory to these agents. One hypothesis is that immunotherapy fails because of a tumor microenvironment that fails to support recruitment of immune cells including CD8+ T cells. Therefore, new approaches designed to initiate a de novo anti-tumor immune response from within the tumor microenvironment are being pursued. Recent evidence has indicated that spontaneous activation of the Stimulator of Interferon Genes (STING) pathway within tumor-resident dendritic cells leads to type I interferon (IFN) production and adaptive immune responses against tumors. This pathway is activated in the presence of cytosolic DNA, that is detected by the sensor cyclic-GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS), and generates cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP), which binds and activates STING. As a therapeutic approach, intratumoral injection of STING agonists has demonstrated profound therapeutic effects in multiple mouse tumor models, including melanoma, colon, breast, prostate, and fibrosarcoma. Better characterization of the STING pathway in human tumor recognition, and the development of new pharmacologic approaches to engage this pathway within the tumor microenvironment in patients, are important areas for clinical translation.
Clinical Cancer Research 09/2015; DOI:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-15-1362 · 8.72 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: T-cell trafficking at vascular sites has emerged as a key step in antitumour immunity. Chemokines are credited with guiding the multistep recruitment of CD8(+) T cells across tumour vessels. However, the multiplicity of chemokines within tumours has obscured the contributions of individual chemokine receptor/chemokine pairs to this process. Moreover, recent studies have challenged whether T cells require chemokine receptor signalling at effector sites. Here we investigate the hierarchy of chemokine receptor requirements during T-cell trafficking to murine and human melanoma. These studies reveal a non-redundant role for Gαi-coupled CXCR3 in stabilizing intravascular adhesion and extravasation of adoptively transferred CD8(+) effectors that is indispensable for therapeutic efficacy. In contrast, functional CCR2 and CCR5 on CD8(+) effectors fail to support trafficking despite the presence of intratumoral cognate chemokines. Taken together, these studies identify CXCR3-mediated trafficking at the tumour vascular interface as a critical checkpoint to effective T-cell-based cancer immunotherapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Melanoma treatment is being revolutionized by the development of effective immunotherapeutic approaches. These strategies include blockade of immune-inhibitory receptors on activated T cells; for example, using monoclonal antibodies against CTLA-4, PD-1, and PD-L1 (refs 3, 4, 5). However, only a subset of patients responds to these treatments, and data suggest that therapeutic benefit is preferentially achieved in patients with a pre-existing T-cell response against their tumour, as evidenced by a baseline CD8(+) T-cell infiltration within the tumour microenvironment. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie the presence or absence of a spontaneous anti-tumour T-cell response in subsets of cases, therefore, should enable the development of therapeutic solutions for patients lacking a T-cell infiltrate. Here we identify a melanoma-cell-intrinsic oncogenic pathway that contributes to a lack of T-cell infiltration in melanoma. Molecular analysis of human metastatic melanoma samples revealed a correlation between activation of the WNT/β-catenin signalling pathway and absence of a T-cell gene expression signature. Using autochthonous mouse melanoma models we identified the mechanism by which tumour-intrinsic active β-catenin signalling results in T-cell exclusion and resistance to anti-PD-L1/anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibody therapy. Specific oncogenic signals, therefore, can mediate cancer immune evasion and resistance to immunotherapies, pointing to new candidate targets for immune potentiation.