[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: 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: 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.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The observation that a subset of cancer patients show evidence for spontaneous CD8(+) Tcell priming against tumor-associated antigens has generated renewed interest in the innate immune pathways that might serve as a bridge to an adaptive immune response to tumors. Manipulation of this endogenous T cell response with therapeutic intent-for example, using blocking antibodies inhibiting PD-1/PD-L1 (programmed death-1/programmed death ligand 1) interactions-is showing impressive clinical results. As such, understanding the innate immune mechanisms that enable this T cell response has important clinical relevance. Defined innate immune interactions in the cancer context include recognition by innate cell populations (NK cells, NKT cells, and γδ T cells) and also by dendritic cells and macrophages in response to damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). Recent evidence has indicated that the major DAMP driving host antitumor immune responses is tumor-derived DNA, sensed by the stimulator of interferon gene (STING) pathway and driving type I IFN production. A deeper knowledge of the clinically relevant innate immune pathways involved in the recognition of tumors is leading toward new therapeutic strategies for cancer treatment. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Immunology Volume 33 is March 21, 2015. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although type I IFNs were initially described based on their anti-viral properties, it was quickly realized that these cytokines had anti-proliferative and anti-cancer activities. These observations ultimately led to the clinical development and utility of IFN-α2b for the treatment of patients with melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, and chronic myelogenous leukemia, among others. However, the mechanism of action of type I IFNs in vivo was never fully elucidated, and the pleiotropic effects of IFNs on multiple cell types had made it challenging to decipher. Advancement of genetically engineered mouse models has provided new tools for interrogating these mechanisms. Recent evidence has indicated that spontaneous innate immune sensing of cancers that leads to adaptive immune responses is dependent on host type I IFN production and signaling. The major innate immune receptor pathway that leads to type I IFN production in response to a growing tumor appears to be the STING pathway of cytosolic DNA sensing. STING agonists drive type I IFN production and are impressively therapeutic in mouse tumor models. Targeting low doses of type I IFNs to the tumor microenvironment also promotes anti-tumor activity via host adaptive immunity that is T cell-dependent. However, high doses of intratumoral type I IFNs largely function via an anti-angiogenic effect. Understanding these mechanistic details should enable improved clinical manipulation of the type I IFN system in cancer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKROUND In patients with metastatic melanoma and KIT amplifications and/or mutations, therapy with imatinib mesylate may prolong survival. 18F-labeled 2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (18F-FDG) PET/CT may be used to assess metabolic response. We investigated associations of metabolic response, mutational status, progression-free survival and overall survival in this population.
Baseline and 4-week follow-up 18F-FDG-PET/CT were evaluated in 17 patients with metastatic melanoma and KIT amplifications and/or mutations treated with imatinib in a multicenter phase II clinical trial. The maximum standardized uptake values (SUVmax) were measured in up to 10 lesions on each scan. Metabolic response was classified using modified EORTC criteria. Each patient had a diagnostic CT or MR at baseline, after 6 weeks of therapy and then at intervals of 2 months and anatomic response was classified using RECIST 1.0. Median follow-up was 9.8 months.
Partial metabolic response (PMR), stable metabolic disease (SMD) and progressive metabolic disease (PMD) was seen in 5 (29%), 5 (29%), and 7 (41%) patients respectively. Five patients (29%) had a KIT mutation in exon 11, four of whom (80%) had PMR while 1 (20%) had SMD. Twelve patients (71%) did not have a KIT mutation in exon 11, and only 1 (8%) had PMR, 4 (33%) had SMD and 7 (58%) had PMD. There was agreement of metabolic and anatomic classification in 12 of 17 patients (71%). Four of 17 patients (24%) had PR on both metabolic and anatomic imaging and all had a KIT mutation in exon 11. Survival of patients with PMD was lower than with SMD or PMR.
Metabolic response by 18F-FDG-PET/CT is associated with mutational status in metastatic melanoma patients treated with imatinib. 18F-FDG-PET/CT may be a predictor of outcome, although a larger study is needed to verify this.
Cancer Imaging 11/2014; 14(1):30. DOI:10.1186/s40644-014-0030-0 · 2.07 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Constitutive Ras signaling has been shown to augment IL-2 production, reverse anergy, and functionally replace many aspects of CD28 co-stimulation in CD4+ T cells. These data raise the possibility that introduction of active Ras into primary T cells might result in improved functionality in pathologic situations of T cell dysfunction, such as cancer or chronic viral infection. To test the biologic effects of active Ras in primary T cells, CD4+ T cells from Coxsackie-Adenovirus Receptor Transgenic mice were transduced with an adenovirus encoding active Ras. As expected, active Ras augmented IL-2 production in naive CD4+ T cells. However, when cells were cultured for 4 days under conditions to promote effector cell differentiation, active Ras inhibited the ability of CD4+ T cells to acquire a Th1 or Th2 effector cytokine profile. This differentiation defect was not due to deficient STAT4 or STAT6 activation by IL-12 or IL-4, respectively, nor was it associated with deficient induction of T-bet and GATA-3 expression. Impaired effector cytokine production in active Ras-transduced cells was associated with deficient demethylation of the IL-4 gene locus. Our results indicate that, despite augmenting acute activation of naïve T cells, constitutive Ras signaling inhibits the ability of CD4+ T cells to properly differentiate into Th1/Th2 effector cytokine-producing cells, in part by interfering with epigenetic modification of effector gene loci. Alternative strategies to potentiate Ras pathway signaling in T cells in a more regulated fashion should be considered as a therapeutic approach to improve immune responses in vivo.
PLoS ONE 11/2014; 9(11):e112831. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0112831 · 3.23 Impact Factor