[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recognition and elimination of tumor cells by the immune system is crucial for limiting tumor growth. Natural killer (NK) cells become activated when the receptor NKG2D is engaged by ligands that are frequently upregulated in primary tumors and on cancer cell lines. However, the molecular mechanisms driving NKG2D ligand expression on tumor cells are not well defined. Using a forward genetic screen in a tumor-derived human cell line, we identified several novel factors supporting expression of the NKG2D ligand ULBP1. Our results show stepwise contributions of independent pathways working at multiple stages of ULBP1 biogenesis. Deeper investigation of selected hits from the screen showed that the transcription factor ATF4 drives ULBP1 gene expression in cancer cell lines, while the RNA-binding protein RBM4 supports ULBP1 expression by suppressing a novel alternatively spliced isoform of ULBP1 mRNA. These findings offer insight into the stress pathways that alert the immune system to danger.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent extraordinary advances in cancer immunotherapy rely primarily on marshaling T cell responses. Here we discuss how NK cell responses can be amplified. We find that MHC I-deficient tumors induce anergy of NK cells but that cytokine therapy restores NK cell activity and increases the survival of mice bearing MHC I-deficient tumors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Various cytokines have been evaluated as potential anticancer drugs; however, most cytokine trials have shown relatively low efficacy. Here, we found that treatments with IL-12 and IL-18 or with a mutant form of IL-2 (the "superkine" called H9) provided substantial therapeutic benefit for mice specifically bearing MHC class I-deficient tumors, but these treatments were ineffective for mice with matched MHC class I+ tumors. Cytokine efficacy was linked to the reversal of the anergic state of NK cells that specifically occurred in MHC class I-deficient tumors, but not MHC class I+ tumors. NK cell anergy was accompanied by impaired early signal transduction and was locally imparted by the presence of MHC class I-deficient tumor cells, even when such cells were a minor population in a tumor mixture. These results demonstrate that MHC class I-deficient tumor cells can escape from the immune response by functionally inactivating NK cells, and suggest cytokine-based immunotherapy as a potential strategy for MHC class I-deficient tumors. These results suggest that such cytokine therapies would be optimized by stratification of patients. Moreover, our results suggest that such treatments may be highly beneficial in the context of therapies to enhance NK cell functions in cancer patients.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Natural killer (NK) cells represent a first line of defense against pathogens and tumor cells. The activation of NK cells is regulated by the integration of signals deriving from activating and inhibitory receptors expressed on their surface. However, different NK cells respond differently to the same stimulus, be it target cells or agents that crosslink activating receptors. The processes that determine the level of NK cell responsiveness have been referred to collectively as NK cell education. NK cell education plays an important role in steady state conditions, where potentially auto-reactive NK cells are rendered tolerant to the surrounding environment. According to the “tuning” concept, the responsiveness of each NK cell is quantitatively adjusted to ensure self tolerance while at the same time ensuring useful reactivity against potential threats. MHC-specific inhibitory receptors displayed by NK cells play a major role in tuning NK cell responsiveness, but recent studies indicate that signaling from activating receptors is also important, suggesting that the critical determinant is an integrated signal from both types of receptors. An important and still unresolved question is whether NK cell education involves interactions with a specific cell population in the environment. Whether hematopoietic and/or non-hematopoietic cells play a role is still under debate. Recent results demonstrated that NK cell tuning exhibits plasticity in steady state conditions, meaning that it can be re-set if the MHC environment changes. Other evidence suggests, however, that inflammatory conditions accompanying infections may favor high responsiveness, indicating that inflammatory agents can over-ride the natural tendency of NK cells to adjust to the steady state environment. These findings raise many questions such as whether viruses and tumor cells manipulate NK cell responsiveness to evade immune-recognition. As knowledge of the underlying processes grows, the possibility of modulating NK cell responsiveness for therapeutic purposes is becoming increasingly attractive, and is now under serious investigation in clinical studies.
Seminars in Immunology 04/2014; 26(2). DOI:10.1016/j.smim.2014.02.007 · 5.17 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The immunoreceptor NKG2D originally identified in natural killer cells recognizes ligands that are upregulated on tumor cells. Expression of NKG2D ligands (NKG2DLs) is activated by the DNA damage response (DDR) which is often activated constitutively in cancer cells, revealing them to natural killer cells as a mechanism of immunosurveillance. Here we report that the induction of retinoic acid early transcript 1 (RAE1) ligands for NKG2D by the DDR relies on a STING-dependent DNA sensor pathway involving the effector molecules TBK1 and IRF3. Cytosolic DNA was detected in lymphoma cell lines which express RAE1 and its occurrence required activation of the DDR. Transfection of DNA into ligand-negative cells was sufficient to induce RAE1 expression. Irf3+/-;Eμ-Myc mice expressed lower levels of RAE1 on tumor cells and showed a reduced survival rate compared to Irf3+/+;Eμ-Myc mice. Taken together, our results suggest that genomic damage in tumor cells leads to activation of STING-dependent DNA sensor pathways, thereby activating RAE1 and enabling tumor immunosurveillance.
Cancer Research 03/2014; 74(8). DOI:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-1703 · 9.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In recent years, roles of the immune system in immune surveillance of cancer have been explored using a variety of approaches. The roles of the adaptive immune system have been a major emphasis, but increasing evidence supports a role for innate immune effector cells such as natural killer (NK) cells in tumor surveillance. Here, we discuss some of the evidence for roles in tumor surveillance of innate immune cells. In particular, we focus on NK cells and other immune cells that express germline-encoded receptors, often labeled NK receptors. The impact of these receptors and the cells that express them on tumor suppression is summarized. We discuss in detail some of the pathways and events in tumor cells that induce or upregulate cell-surface expression of the ligands for these receptors, and the logic of how those pathways serve to identify malignant, or potentially malignant cells. How tumors often evade tumor suppression mediated by innate killer cells is another major subject of the review. We end with a discussion on some of the implications of the various findings with respect to possible therapeutic approaches.
Advances in Immunology 02/2014; 122:91-128. DOI:10.1016/B978-0-12-800267-4.00003-1 · 5.96 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We recently dissected how senescent tumors can trigger complementing signaling pathways that mobilize natural killer (NK) cells to eliminate malignant cells. In addition to cell-intrinsic effects on proliferation, senescence induces the production of chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2), which recruits NK cells to mediate direct tumoricidal effects. Hence, senescence activates a cancer cell-extrinsic oncosuppression program.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pathogenic and oncogenic insults result in the induction of intrinsic defense mechanisms such as cell-death pathways and senescence, and extrinsic pathways that mobilize immune responses to destroy unhealthy cells. Both protective mechanisms presumably evolved to limit the damage these insults could inflict on the host. After viral infection or malignant transformation, unhealthy cells can be directly sensed by natural killer (NK) and some T cells via the activating receptor NKG2D. All NK cells and subsets of T cells express NKG2D. The NKG2D/ligand system represents a major recognition mechanism for detection and elimination of unhealthy cells. Here we discuss different pathways, including stress pathways, that are responsible for cell-surface display of ligands for NKG2D, which are self-proteins that are minimally expressed by normal cells. We also discuss new results indicating that efficient elimination of tumor cells that display NKG2D ligands depends on the recruitment of NK cells and other immune cells to the tumor, which can be regulated by distinct mechanisms, including the p53-dependent production of chemokines by senescent tumors. The cooperative effect of pathways that induce the display of NKG2D ligands and distinct pathways that mobilize immune cells provides a higher degree of specificity to the NK cell response.
Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology 10/2013; 78(1). DOI:10.1101/sqb.2013.78.020255
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The induction of cellular senescence is an important mechanism by which p53 suppresses tumorigenesis. Using a mouse model of liver carcinoma, where cellular senescence is triggered in vivo by inducible p53 expression, we demonstrated that NK cells participate in the elimination of senescent tumors. The elimination of senescent tumor cells is dependent on NKG2D. Interestingly, p53 restoration neither increases ligand expression nor increases the sensitivity to lysis by NK cells. Instead, p53 restoration caused tumor cells to secrete various chemokines with the potential to recruit NK cells. Antibody-mediated neutralization of CCL2, but not CCL3, CCL4 or CCL5, prevented NK cell recruitment to the senescent tumors and reduced their elimination. Our findings suggest that elimination of senescent tumors by NK cells occurs as a result of the cooperation of signals associated with p53 expression or senescence, which regulate NK cell recruitment, and other signals that induce NKG2D ligand expression on tumor cells.
Journal of Experimental Medicine 09/2013; 210(10). DOI:10.1084/jem.20130783 · 12.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The NKG2D activating receptor has been implicated in numerous autoimmune diseases. We tested the role of NKG2D in models of autoimmunity and inflammation using NKG2D knockout mice and antibody blockade experiments. The severity of experimental autoimmune encephalitis (EAE) was decreased in NKG2D-deficient mice when the disease was induced with a limiting antigen dose, but unchanged with an optimal antigen dose. Surprisingly, however, NKG2D deficiency had no detectable effect in several other models, including two models of type 1 diabetes, and a model of intestinal inflammation induced by poly(I:C). NKG2D antibody blockade in normal mice also failed to inhibit disease in the NOD diabetes model or the intestinal inflammation model. Published evidence using NKG2D knockout mice demonstrated a role for NKG2D in mouse models of atherosclerosis and liver inflammation, as well as in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Therefore, our results suggest that NKG2D plays selective roles in inflammatory diseases.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Natural killer (NK) cells are generally considered to be part of the innate immune system. Over the past few years, however, evidence has accumulated suggesting that NK cells have certain features that are characteristic of the adaptive immune system. NK cells reportedly respond in an antigen-specific manner to a variety of small molecules and certain viruses, and mediate enhanced responses to these antigens upon secondary exposure. In infections with mouse cytomegalovirus (MCMV), MCMV-specific NK cells undergo clonal expansion, and display increased effector function after the resolution of the infection. In addition, inflammatory conditions resulting from exposure to certain cytokines seem to promote prolonged effector function in NK cells in an antigen-non-specific fashion. Taken together, these studies reveal new aspects of NK biology, and suggest that NK cells, like T and B cells, may carry out memory responses and may also exhibit greater capacity to distinguish antigens than was previously recognized.
Current biology: CB 09/2013; 23(17):R817-20. DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2013.07.015 · 9.57 Impact Factor