[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gap junctions (GJs) mediate intercellular communication between adjacent cells. Previously, we showed that connexin 43 (Cx43), the main GJ protein in the immune system, mediates Ag transfer between human dendritic cells (DCs) and is recruited to the immunological synapse during T cell priming. This crosstalk contributed to T cell activation, intracellular Ca(2+) responses, and cytokine release. However, the role of GJs in NK cell activation by DCs and NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity against tumor cells remains unknown. In this study, we found polarization of Cx43 at the NK/DC and NK/tumor cell-contact sites, accompanied by the formation of functional GJs between NK/DCs and NK/tumor cells, respectively. Cx43-GJ-mediated intercellular communication (GJIC) between human NK and DCs was bidirectional. Blockage of Cx43-GJIC inhibited NK cell activation, though it affected neither the phenotype nor the function of DCs. Cx43 knockdown or inhibition using mimetic peptides greatly reduced CD69 and CD25 expression and IFN-γ release by DC-stimulated NK cells. Moreover, blocking Cx43 strongly inhibited the NK cell-mediated tumor cell lysis associated with inhibition of granzyme B activity and Ca(2+) influx. Our data identify a novel and active role for Cx43-GJIC in human NK cell activation and antitumor effector functions that may be important for the design of new immune therapeutic strategies.
The Journal of Immunology 12/2013; · 5.52 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The proteasome inhibitor bortezomib simultaneously renders tumor cells sensitive to killing by natural killer (NK) cells and resistant to killing by tumor-specific T cells. Here, we show that b-AP15, a novel inhibitor of proteasome deubiquitinating activity, sensitizes tumors to both NK and T cell-mediated killing. Exposure to b-AP15 significantly increased the susceptibility of tumor cell lines of various origins to NK (p < 0.0002) and T cell (p = 0.02)-mediated cytotoxicity. Treatment with b-AP15 resulted in increased tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) receptor-2 expression (p = 0.03) and decreased cFLIP expression in tumor cells in vitro. In tumor-bearing SCID/Beige mice, treatment with b-AP15 followed by infusion of either human NK cells or tumor-specific T cells resulted in a significantly delayed tumor progression compared with mice treated with NK cells (p = 0.006), T cells (p < 0.0001) or b-AP15 alone (p = 0.003). Combined infusion of NK and T cells in tumor-bearing BALB/c mice following treatment with b-AP15 resulted in a significantly prolonged long-term survival compared with mice treated with b-AP15 and NK or T cells (p ≤ 0.01). Our findings show that b-AP15-induced sensitization to TRAIL-mediated apoptosis could be used as a novel strategy to augment the anticancer effects of adoptively infused NK and T cells in patients with cancer.
Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy 05/2013; · 3.64 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tumors can suppress the host immune system by employing a variety of cellular immune modulators, such as regulatory T cells, tumor-associated macrophages and myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC). In the peripheral blood of advanced stage melanoma patients, there is an accumulation of CD14+HLA-DRlo/- MDSC that suppress autologous T cells ex vivo in a STAT-3-dependent manner. However, precise mechanistic basis underlying this effect is unclear, particularly with regard to whether the MDSC induction mechanism relies on cell-cell contact of melanoma cells with CD14+ cells. Here we show that early-passage human melanoma cells induce phenotypic changes in CD14+ monocytes, leading them to resemble MDSCs characterized in advanced stage melanoma patients. These MDSC-like cells potently suppress autologous T cell proliferation and IFN-γ production. Notably, induction of myeloid suppressive functions requires contact or close proximity between monocytes and tumor cells. Further, this induction is largely dependent on production of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) since its inhibition in these MDSC-like cells limits their ability to suppress T cell function. We confirmed our findings with CD14+ cells isolated from advanced stage melanoma patients, which inhibited autologous T cells in a manner relying up prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), STAT-3 and superoxide. Indeed, PGE2 was sufficient to confer to monocytes the ability to suppress proliferation and IFN-γ production by autologous T cells ex vivo. In summary, our results reveal how immune suppression by MDSC can be initiated in the tumor microenvironment of human melanoma.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Oncogenes have been traditionally viewed as molecular drivers for tumor growth and survival. Recent evidence indicates that oncogenes may facilitate the escape of malignant cells from immune recognition and elimination. In this article, we discuss the implications of the overexpression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family members on immune escape of tumors and immunotherapy.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphocytes that are able to directly kill tumor cells through different mechanisms including ligation of TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) receptors. Zoledronic acid (ZA) is a bisphosphonate known to up-regulate the expression of TRAIL on human γδ T cells. Here we investigated whether exposure to ZA would up-regulate TRAIL expression on human NK cells and augment their cytotoxicity against tumor cells. When co-cultured with monocytes, treatment with ZA and IL-2 resulted in a significant up-regulation of TRAIL expression on human NK cells (p = 0.002). Consequently, ZA-primed NK cells were significantly more cytotoxic against TRAIL sensitive tumor cells (p<0.0001). In the presence of ZA and IL-2, monocytes produced high levels of IFN-γ; when cultured in the presence of neutralizing antibodies to IFN-γ, TRAIL expression and TRAIL-mediated cytotoxicity of NK cells were significantly reduced. Furthermore, in tumor-bearing SCID/Beige mice, a significant delayed tumor progression and prolonged survival was observed after infusion of ZA-primed NK cells compared with that observed in mice infused with unprimed NK cells. These findings represent a novel approach to potentiate TRAIL-mediated apoptosis by adoptively infused NK cells that could improve the outcome in patients with cancer.
European Journal of Immunology 09/2012; · 4.97 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Overexpression of the receptor tyrosine kinases HER2 and HER3 is associated with a poor prognosis in several types of cancer. Presently, HER2- as well as HER3-targeted therapies are in clinical practice or evaluated within clinical trials, including treatment with mAbs mediating growth inhibition and/or activation of Ab-induced innate or adaptive cellular immunity. A better understanding of how HER2/HER3 signaling in tumors influences cellular immune mechanisms is therefore warranted. In this study, we demonstrate that HER2/HER3 signaling regulates the expression of MHC class I-related chain A and B (MICA and MICB) in breast cancer cell lines. The MICA and MICB (MICA/B) molecules act as key ligands for the activating receptor NK group 2, member D (NKG2D) and promote NK cell-mediated recognition and cytolysis. Genetic silencing of HER3 but not HER2 downregulated the expression of MICA/B, and HER3 overexpression significantly enhanced MICA expression. Among the major pathways activated by HER2/HER3 signaling, the PI3K/AKT pathway was shown to predominantly regulate MICA/B expression. Treatment with the HER3-specific ligand neuregulin 1β promoted the expression in a process that was antagonized by pharmacological and genetic interference with HER3 but not by the ataxia-telangiectasia-mutated (ATM) and ATM and Rad3-related protein kinases inhibitor caffeine. These observations further emphasize that HER2/HER3 signaling directly, and not via genotoxic stress, regulates MICA/B expression. As anticipated, stimulating HER2/HER3 enhanced the NKG2D-MICA/B-dependent NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Taken together, we conclude that signaling via the HER2/HER3 pathway in breast carcinoma cell lines may lead to enhanced NKG2D-MICA/B recognition by NK cells and T cells.
The Journal of Immunology 03/2012; 188(5):2136-45. · 5.52 Impact Factor