Optimal selection of natural killer cells to kill myeloma: the role of HLA-E and NKG2A.
ABSTRACT: Immunotherapy with allogeneic natural killer (NK) cells offers therapeutic perspectives for multiple myeloma patients. Here, we aimed to refine NK cell therapy by evaluation of the relevance of HLA-class I and HLA-E for NK anti-myeloma reactivity. We show that HLA-class I was strongly expressed on the surface of patient-derived myeloma cells and on myeloma cell lines. HLA-E was highly expressed by primary myeloma cells but only marginally by cell lines. HLA-E(low) expression on U266 cells observed in vitro was strongly upregulated after in vivo (bone marrow) growth in RAG-2(-/-) ?c(-/-) mice, suggesting that in vitro HLA-E levels poorly predict the in vivo situation. Concurrent analysis of inhibitory receptors (KIR2DL1, KIR2DL2/3, KIR3DL1 and NKG2A) and NK cell degranulation upon co-culture with myeloma cells revealed that KIR-ligand-mismatched NK cells degranulate more than matched subsets and that HLA-E abrogates degranulation of NKG2A+ subsets. Inhibition by HLA-class I and HLA-E was also observed with IL-2-activated NK cells and at low oxygen levels (0.6 %) mimicking hypoxic bone marrow niches where myeloma cells preferentially reside. Our study demonstrates that NKG2A-negative, KIR-ligand-mismatched NK cells are the most potent subset for clinical application. We envision that infusion of high numbers of this subclass will enhance clinical efficacy.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cell-based immunotherapy is a promising therapy for cancer patients. Inhibitory killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) and NKG2A are required for NK cell licensing, but can also inhibit NK cell effector function. Upon reconstitution in a stem cell transplantation setting or after ex vivo NK expansion with IL-2, NKG2A is expressed on a large percentage of NK cells. Since the functional consequences of NKG2A co-expression for activated NK cells are not well known, we compared NKG2A+ vs NKG2A- NK cell subsets in response to K562 cells, multiple myeloma (MM) cell lines and primary MM cells. NK cells were isolated from healthy donors (HLA-C1+C2+Bw4+) and activated overnight with 1,000?U/ml IL-2. NK cell degranulation in subsets expressing KIRs and/or NKG2A was assessed at 21 or 0.6% O2. Activated NKG2A+ NK cell subsets degranulated more vigorously than NKG2A- subsets both at 21 and 0.6% O2. This was irrespective of the presence of KIR and occurred in response to HLA-deficient K562 cells as well as HLA competent, lowly expressing HLA-E MM cell lines. In response to primary MM cells, no inhibitory effects of NKG2A were observed, and NKG2A blockade did not enhance degranulation of NKG2A+ subsets. KIR- NK cells expressing NKG2A degranulated less than their NKG2A- counterparts in response to MM cells having high levels of peptide-induced membrane HLA-E, suggesting that high surface HLA-E levels are required for NKG2A to inhibit activated NK cells. Addition of daratumumab, an anti-CD38 to trigger antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity, improved the anti-MM response for all subsets and degranulation of the KIR-NKG2A- "unlicensed" subset was comparable to KIR+ or NKG2A+ licensed subsets. This demonstrates that with potent activation, all subsets can contribute to tumor clearance. Additionally, subsets expressing KIRs mismatched with the HLA ligands on the target cell had the highest level of activation in response to MM cell lines as well as against primary MM. Our current study demonstrated that if NK cells are sufficiently activated, e.g., via cytokine or antibody activation, the (co-)expression of NKG2A receptor may not necessarily be a disadvantage for NK cell-based therapy.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cell-based immunotherapy is a promising novel approach to treat cancer. However, NK cell function has been shown to be potentially diminished by factors common in the tumor microenvironment (TME). In this study, we assessed the synergistic potential of antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and killer immunoglobin-like receptor (KIR)-ligand mismatched NK cells to potentiate NK cell antitumor reactivity in multiple myeloma (MM). Hypoxia, lactate, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) or combinations were selected to mimic the TME. To investigate this, NK cells from healthy donors were isolated and NK cell ADCC capacity in response to MM cells was assessed in flow cytometry-based cytotoxicity and degranulation (CD107a) assays in the presence of TME factors. Hypoxia, lactate and PGE2 reduced cytotoxicity of NK cells against myeloma target cells. The addition of daratumumab (anti-CD38 antibody) augmented NK-cell cytotoxicity against target cells expressing high CD38, but not against CD38 low or negative target cells also in the presence of TME. Co-staining for inhibitory KIRs and NKG2A demonstrated that daratumumab enhanced degranulation of all NK cell subsets. Nevertheless, KIR-ligand mismatched NK cells were slightly better effector cells than KIR-ligand matched NK cells. In summary, our study shows that combination therapy using strategies to maximize activating NK cell signaling by triggering ADCC in combination with an approach to minimize inhibitory signaling through a selection of KIR-ligand mismatched donors, can help to overcome the NK-suppressive TME. This can serve as a platform to improve the clinical efficacy of NK cells.
Project description:Alloreactive natural killer (NK) cells are an important influence on hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) outcome. In HLA-mismatched HSCT, alloreactivity occurs when licensed donor NK cells expressing inhibitory killer Ig-like receptors (KIR) for donor MHC class I ligands recognize the lack of the class I ligands in the mismatched recipient ("missing self"). Studies in HLA-matched HSCT, however, have also demonstrated improved outcome in patients lacking class I ligands for donor inhibitory KIR ("missing ligand"), indicating that classically nonlicensed donor NK cells expressing KIR for non-self MHC class I ligands may exhibit functional competence in HSCT. We examined NK function in 16 recipients of T cell-depleted allografts from HLA-identical or KIR-ligand matched donors after myeloablative therapy. After HSCT, nonlicensed NK cells expressing inhibitory KIR for non-self class I exhibit robust intracellular IFN-gamma and cytotoxic response to target cells lacking cognate ligand, gradually becoming tolerized to self by day 100. These findings could not be correlated with cytokine environment or phenotypic markers of NK development, nor could they be attributed to non-KIR receptors such as CD94/NKG2A. These findings confirm that NK alloreactivity can occur in HLA-matched HSCT, where tolerance to self is either acquired by the stem cell-derived NK cell after exiting the bone marrow or where tolerance to self can be temporarily overcome.
Project description:Variegated expression of 6 inhibitory HLA class I-specific receptors on primary NK cells was studied using high-dimension flow cytometry in 58 humans to understand the structure and function of NK-cell repertoires. Sixty-four subsets expressing all possible receptor com-binations were present in each repertoire, and the frequency of receptor-null cells varied among the donors. Enhancement in missing-self response between NK subsets varied substantially where subset responses were defined by donor KIR/HLA allotypes, reflecting the differences in interaction between inhibitory receptors and their ligands. This contrasted to the enhancement conferred by NKG2A, which was constant and of intermediate strength. We infer a mechanism that modulates frequencies of the NK subsets displaying diverse levels of missing-self response, a system that reduces the presence of KIR-expressing subsets that display either too strong or too weak a response and effectively replaces them with NKG2A-expressing cells in the repertoire. Through this high-resolution analysis of inhibitory receptor expression, 5 types of NK-cell repertoire were defined by their content of NKG2A(+)/NKG2A(-) cells, frequency of receptor-null cells, and degree of KIR receptor coexpression. The analyses provide new perspective on how personalized human NK-cell repertoires are structured.
Project description:Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor/HLA class I (KIR/HLA-I) combinations are associated with disease risk, implicating functional roles for NK cells (NKCs) or KIR(+) T cells. KIR/HLA-I interactions can act through inhibition of NKC activation by target cells and NKC licensing for greater intrinsic responsiveness. We compared licensing conferred by the weaker, HLA-C group 1/KIR2DL3, and the stronger, HLA-C group 2/KIR2DL1, inhibitory combinations. The "rheostat model" predicts weaker licensing by HLA-C1/KIR2DL3 interactions than HLA-C2/KIR2DL1. We analyzed degranulation in NKC subsets expressing single and multiple receptors for HLA-I. NKG2A had the strongest licensing impact, while KIR2DL3, KIR2DL1, and KIR3DL1 were weaker, and not significantly different to each other. Presence of one or two matched HLA-C allotypes did not alter licensing of KIR2DL3(+) and KIR2DL1(+) NKC. Coexpression of activating KIR2DS1 disarmed KIR2DL3(+) and KIR2DL1(+) NKC to a similar extent. KIR3DL1 and NKG2A combined for more enhanced licensing of double-positive NKC than the combination of KIR2DL3 and KIR2DL1. Thus, KIR2DL3 and KIR2DL1 have similar capacity to license NKC, suggesting that inhibitory signal strength and amount of available HLA-C ligands do not correlate with NKC licensing. Altogether, our results show that the basis for disease associations of HLA-C and KIR2DL likely encompasses factors other than licensing.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity toward self-cells is restrained by the inhibitory HLA class I-binding receptors CD94/NKG2A and the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs). CD94/NKG2A and KIRs are also essential for NK cell education, which is a dynamic functional maturation process where a constitutive binding of inhibitory receptors to cognate HLA class I molecules is required for NK cells to maintain their full cytotoxic capacity. Previously, we described autoantibodies to CD94/NKG2A in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In this study we analyzed sera from 191 patients with SLE, 119 patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS), 48 patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc), and 100 healthy donors (HD) for autoantibodies to eight different KIRs. Anti-KIR autoantibodies were identified in sera from 23.0% of patients with SLE, 10.9% of patients with pSS, 12.5% of patients with SSc, and 3.0% of HD. IgG from anti-KIR-positive SLE patients reduced the degranulation and cytotoxicity of NK cells toward K562 tumor cells. The presence of anti-KIR-autoantibodies reacting with >3 KIRs was associated with an increased disease activity (p < 0.0001), elevated serum levels of IFN-? (p < 0.0001), nephritis (p = 0.001), and the presence of anti-Sm (p = 0.007), and anti-RNP (p = 0.003) autoantibodies in serum. Together these findings suggest that anti-KIR autoantibodies may contribute to the reduced function of NK cells in SLE patients, and that a defective NK cell function may be a risk factor for the development of lupus nephritis.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells are key cytotoxic effectors against malignant cells. Polygenic and polymorphic Killer cell Immunoglobulin-like Receptor (KIR) and HLA genes participate in the structural and functional formation of the NK cell repertoire. In this study, we extensively investigated the anti-leukemic potential of NK cell subsets, taking into account these genetic parameters and cytomegalovirus (CMV) status. Hierarchical clustering analysis of NK cell subsets based on NKG2A, KIR, CD57 and NKG2C markers from 68 blood donors identified donor clusters characterized by a specific phenotypic NK cell repertoire linked to a particular immunogenetic KIR and HLA profile and CMV status. On the functional side, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) was better recognized by NK cells than acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, a broad inter-individual disparity of NK cell responses exists against the same leukemic target, highlighting bad and good NK responders. The most effective NK cell subsets against different ALLs expressed NKG2A and represented the most frequent subset in the NK cell repertoire. In contrast, minority CD57+ or/and KIR+ NK cell subsets were more efficient against AML. Overall, our data may help to optimize the selection of hematopoietic stem cell donors on the basis of immunogenetic KIR/HLA for ALL patients and identify the best NK cell candidates in immunotherapy for AML.
Project description:Peptide selectivity is a feature of inhibitory receptors for MHC class I expressed by natural killer (NK) cells. CD94-NKG2A operates in tandem with the polymorphic killer cell Ig-like receptors (KIR) and Ly49 systems to inhibit NK cells. However, the benefits of having two distinct inhibitory receptor-ligand systems are not clear. We show that noninhibitory peptides presented by HLA-E can augment the inhibition of NKG2A(+) NK cells mediated by MHC class I signal peptides through the engagement of CD94 without a signaling partner. Thus, CD94 is a peptide-selective NK cell receptor, and NK cells can be regulated by nonsignaling interactions. We also show that KIR(+) and NKG2A(+) NK cells respond with differing stoichiometries to MHC class I down-regulation. MHC-I-bound peptide functions as a molecular rheostat controlling NK cell function. Selected peptides which in isolation do not inhibit NK cells can have different effects on KIR and NKG2A receptors. Thus, these two inhibitory systems may complement each other by having distinct responses to bound peptide and surface levels of MHC class I.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes having vital functions in innate and adaptive immunity, as well as placental reproduction. Controlling education and functional activity of human NK cells are various receptors that recognize HLA class I on the surface of tissue cells. Epitopes of polymorphic HLA-A,-B and -C are recognized by equally diverse killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR). In addition, a peptide cleaved from the leader sequence of HLA-A,-B or -C must bind to HLA-E for it to become a ligand for the conserved CD94:NKG2A receptor. Methionine/threonine dimorphism at position -21 of the leader sequence divides HLA-B allotypes into a majority having -21T that do not supply HLA-E binding peptides and a minority having -21M, that do. Genetic analysis of human populations worldwide shows how haplotypes with -21M HLA-B rarely encode the KIR ligands: Bw4+HLA-B and C2+HLA-C KIR. Thus there are two fundamental forms of HLA haplotype: one preferentially supplying CD94:NKG2A ligands, the other preferentially supplying KIR ligands. -21 HLA-B dimorphism divides the human population into three groups: M/M, M/T and T/T. Mass cytometry and assays of immune function, shows how M/M and M/T individuals have CD94:NKG2A+ NK cells which are better educated, phenotypically more diverse and functionally more potent than those in T/T individuals. Fundamental new insights are given to genetic control of NK cell immunity and the evolution that has limited the number of NK cell receptor ligands encoded by an HLA haplotype. These finding suggest new ways to dissect the numerous clinical associations with HLA class I.
Project description:PURPOSE:Leukemias with MLL gene rearrangement are associated with a poor prognosis. Natural killer (NK) cell therapy is a potential treatment, but leukemia cells may be resistant. Here, we sought to determine the susceptibility of MLL-rearranged leukemia cells to NK cell lysis and to develop a novel immunotherapeutic approach to optimize NK cell therapy, including the use of an antibody against leukemia-associated antigen and the elimination of killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR)-mediated inhibition. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:Three MLL-rearranged leukemia cell lines (RS4;11, SEM, and MV4-11) and primary leukemia blasts were assessed for surface phenotype and susceptibility to NK cell lysis with or without antibodies against CD19 (XmAb5574), CD33 (lintuzumab), or KIR ligands. RESULTS:All three cell lines were resistant to NK cell lysis, had some inhibitory KIR ligands and protease inhibitor-9, and expressed low levels of NKG2D activating ligands and adhesion molecules. After treatment with XmAb5574 or lintuzumab, MLL-rearranged leukemia cells were efficiently killed by NK cells. The addition of pan-major histocompatibility complex class I antibody, which blocked inhibitory KIR-HLA interaction, further augmented degranulation in all three KIR2DL1, KIR2DL2/3, and KIR3DL1 subsets of NK cells based on the rule of missing-self recognition. A mouse model showed a decreased rate of leukemia progression in vivo as monitored by bioluminescence imaging and longer survival after antibody treatment. CONCLUSION:Our data support the use of a triple immunotherapy approach, including an antibody directed against tumor-associated antigen, KIR-mismatched NK cell transplantation, and inhibitory KIR blockade, for the treatment of NK cell-resistant MLL-rearranged leukemias.