Tn Antigen Expression Contributes to an Immune Suppressive Microenvironment and Drives Tumor Growth in Colorectal Cancer
ABSTRACT: Expression of the tumor-associated glycan Tn antigen (?GalNAc-Ser/Thr) has been correlated to poor prognosis and metastasis in multiple cancer types. However, the exact mechanisms exerted by Tn antigen to support tumor growth are still lacking. One emerging hallmark of cancer is evasion of immune destruction. Although tumor cells often exploit the glycosylation machinery to interact with the immune system, the contribution of Tn antigen to an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment has scarcely been studied. Here, we explored how Tn antigen influences the tumor immune cell composition in a colorectal cancer (CRC) mouse model. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knock out of the C1galt1c1 gene resulted in elevated Tn antigen levels on the cell surface of the CRC cell line MC38 (MC38-Tnhigh). RNA sequencing and subsequent GO term enrichment analysis of our Tnhigh glycovariant not only revealed differences in MAPK signaling and cell migration, but also in antigen processing and presentation as well as in cytotoxic T cell responses. Indeed, MC38-Tnhigh tumors displayed increased tumor growth in vivo, which was correlated with an altered tumor immune cell infiltration, characterized by reduced levels of cytotoxic CD8+ T cells and enhanced accumulation of myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Interestingly, no systemic differences in T cell subsets were observed. Together, our data demonstrate for the first time that Tn antigen expression in the CRC tumor microenvironment affects the tumor-associated immune cell repertoire.
Project description:Colorectal cancer (CRC) cells often express Tn antigen, a tumor-associated truncated immature O-glycan (GalNAc?-O-Ser/Thr) that can promote tumor progression. Immunotherapies against Tn antigen have been developed and are being evaluated in clinical trials. Tn antigen can also be considered a novel immune checkpoint that induces immunosuppressive signaling through glycan-biding lectins to lead effector T cell apoptosis. We evaluated the correlation of Tn antigen expression by immunohistochemistry with mismatch-repair (MMR) status, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, tumor cell PD-L1 expression, and clinicopathological characteristics in 507 CRC patients. Although 91.9% of CRCs showed negative or weak Tn antigen staining (Tn-negative/weak), we identified a small subset of CRCs (8.1%) that displayed particularly intense and diffuse distribution of Tn antigen immunoreactivity (Tn-strong) that closely related to deficient MMR (dMMR). Moreover, 40 dMMR CRCs were stratified into 24 Tn-negative/weak dMMR tumors (60.0%) exhibiting dense CD8+ lymphocyte infiltrate concomitant with a high rate of PD-L1 positivity, and 16 Tn-strong dMMR tumors (40.0%) that demonstrated CD8+ T cell exclusion and a lack of PD-L1 expression, which was comparable to those of proficient MMR. Our finding suggests that the immune cold subset of patients with Tn-strong dMMR CRC may be effectively treated with immune checkpoint blockade therapy or cellular immunotherapy targeting Tn antigen.
Project description:Immunotherapies have achieved clinical benefit in many types of cancer but remain limited to a subset of patients in colorectal cancer (CRC). Resistance to immunotherapy can be attributed in part to tissue-specific factors constraining antitumor immunity. Thus, a better understanding of how the colon microenvironment shapes the immune response to CRC is needed to identify mechanisms of resistance to immunotherapies and guide the development of novel therapeutics. In an orthotopic mouse model of MC38-CRC, tumor progression was monitored by bioluminescence imaging and the immune signatures were assessed at a transcriptional level using NanoString and at a cellular level by flow cytometry. Despite initial tumor growth in all mice, only 25% to 35% of mice developed a progressive lethal CRC while the remaining animals spontaneously rejected their solid tumor. No tumor rejection was observed in the absence of adaptive immunity, nor when MC38 cells were injected in non-orthotopic locations, subcutaneously or into the liver. We observed that progressive CRC tumors exhibited a protumor immune response, characterized by a regulatory T-lymphocyte pattern, discernible shortly post-tumor implantation, as well as suppressive myeloid cells. In contrast, tumor-rejecting mice presented an early inflammatory response and an antitumor microenvironment enriched in CD8+ T cells. Taken together, our data demonstrate the role of the colon microenvironment in regulating the balance between anti or protumor immune responses. While emphasizing the relevance of the CRC orthotopic model, they set the basis for exploring the impact of the identified signatures in colon cancer response to immunotherapy.
Project description:Sialylated glycan structures are known for their immunomodulatory capacities and their contribution to tumor immune evasion. However, the role of aberrant sialylation in colorectal cancer and the consequences of complete tumor desialylation on anti-tumor immunity remain unstudied. Here, we report that CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knock out of the CMAS gene, encoding a key enzyme in the sialylation pathway, in the mouse colorectal cancer MC38 cell line completely abrogated cell surface expression of sialic acids (MC38-Sianull ) and, unexpectedly, significantly increased in vivo tumor growth compared to the control MC38-MOCK cells. This enhanced tumor growth of MC38-Sianull cells could be attributed to decreased CD8+ T cell frequencies in the tumor microenvironment only, as immune cell frequencies in tumor-draining lymph nodes remained unaffected. In addition, MC38-Sianull cells were able to induce CD8+ T cell apoptosis in an antigen-independent manner. Moreover, low CMAS gene expression correlated with reduced recurrence-free survival in a human colorectal cancer cohort, supporting the clinical relevance of our work. Together, these results demonstrate for the first time a detrimental effect of complete tumor desialylation on colorectal cancer tumor growth, which greatly impacts the design of novel cancer therapeutics aimed at altering the tumor glycosylation profile.
Project description:Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most prevalent cancer type worldwide with a mortality rate of approximately 50%. Elevated cell-surface expression of truncated carbohydrate structures such as Tn antigen (GalNAc?-Ser/Thr) is frequently observed during tumor progression. We have previously demonstrated that the C-type lectin macrophage galactose-type lectin (MGL), expressed by human antigen presenting cells, can distinguish healthy tissue from CRC through its specific recognition of Tn antigen. Both MGL binding and oncogenic BRAF mutations have been implicated in establishing an immunosuppressive microenvironment. Here we aimed to evaluate whether MGL ligand expression has prognostic value and whether this was correlated to BRAF(V600E) mutation status. Using a cohort of 386 colon cancer patients we demonstrate that high MGL binding to stage III tumors is associated with poor disease-free survival, independent of microsatellite instability or adjuvant chemotherapy. In vitro studies using CRC cell lines showed an association between MGL ligand expression and the presence of BRAF(V600E). Administration of specific BRAF(V600E) inhibitors resulted in decreased expression of MGL-binding glycans. Moreover, a positive correlation between induction of BRAF(V600E) and MGL binding to epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract was found in vivo using an inducible BRAF(V600E) mouse model. We conclude that the BRAF(V600E) mutation induces MGL ligand expression, thereby providing a direct link between oncogenic transformation and aberrant expression of immunosuppressive glycans. The strong prognostic value of MGL ligands in stage III colon cancer patients, i.e. when tumor cells disseminate to lymph nodes, further supports the putative immune evasive role of MGL ligands in metastatic disease.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Interleukin-33 (IL-33) participates in various types of diseases including cancers. Previous studies of this cytokine in cancers mainly focused on its regulation on immune responses by which IL-33 modulated cancer progression. The IL-33 triggered signals in cancer cells remain unclear. METHODS:We analyzed IL-33 gene expression in human colorectal cancer (CRC) tissues and carried out gene enrichment analysis with TCGA Data Portal. We studied CRC proliferation in vivo by inoculating MC38 tumors in IL-33 transgenic mice. We investigated the cell proliferation in vitro with primary CRC cells isolated from fresh human CRC tissues, human CRC cell line HT-29 and mouse CRC cell line MC38. To evaluate the proliferation modulating effects of recombinant IL-33 incubation and other administrated factors, we measured tumor growth, colony formation, cell viability, and the expression of Ki67 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). We used several inhibitors, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) neutralizing antibody, ST2 blocking antibody and specific shRNA expressing plasmid to study the pathway mediating IL-33-induced CRC proliferation. The IL-33 receptor ST2 in human CRC tissues was detected by immunohistochemistry staining and western blotting. The ST2-positive or negative subsets of primary CRC cells were acquired by flow cytometry sorting. RESULTS:We found that IL-33 expression was correlated with the gene signature of cell proliferation in 394 human CRC samples. The MC38 tumors grew more rapidly and the tumor Ki67 and PCNA were expressed at higher levels in IL-33 transgenic mice than in wild-type mice. IL-33 promoted cell growth, colony formation and expression of Ki67 and PCNA in primary CRC cells as well as CRC cell lines. IL-33 activated cycloxygenase-2 (COX2) expression and increased PGE2 production, whereas the COX2 selective inhibitor and PGE2 neutralizing antibody abolished the proliferation promoting effect of IL-33. ST2 blockade, ST2-negative sorting, NF-?B specific inhibitor and NF-?B specific shRNA (shP65) abrogated the COX2 induction caused by IL-33. CONCLUSION:IL-33 facilitates proliferation of colorectal cancer dependent on COX2/PGE2. IL-33 functions via its receptor ST2 and upregulates COX2 expression through NF-?B signaling. Understanding the IL-33 signal transduction in CRC cells provides potential therapeutic targets for clinical treatment.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The effect of glycoengineering a membrane specific anti-carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) (this paper uses the original term CEA for the formally designated CEACAM5) antibody (PR1A3) on its ability to enhance killing of colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines by human immune effector cells was assessed. In vivo efficacy of the antibody was also tested. METHODS: The antibody was modified using EBNA cells cotransfected with beta-1,4-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase III and the humanised hPR1A3 antibody genes. RESULTS: The resulting alteration of the Fc segment glycosylation pattern enhances the antibody's binding affinity to the FcgammaRIIIa receptor on human immune effector cells but does not alter the antibody's binding capacity. Antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) is inhibited in the presence of anti-FcgammaRIII blocking antibodies. This glycovariant of hPR1A3 enhances ADCC 10-fold relative to the parent unmodified antibody using either unfractionated peripheral blood mononuclear or natural killer (NK) cells and CEA-positive CRC cells as targets. NK cells are far more potent in eliciting ADCC than either freshly isolated monocytes or granulocytes. Flow cytometry and automated fluorescent microscopy have been used to show that both versions of hPR1A3 can induce antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis (ADCP) by monocyte-derived macrophages. However, the glycovariant antibody did not mediate enhanced ADCP. This may be explained by the relatively low expression of FcgammaRIIIa on cultured macrophages. In vivo studies show the efficacy of glycoengineered humanised IgG1 PR1A3 in significantly improving survival in a CRC metastatic murine model. CONCLUSION: The greatly enhanced in vitro ADCC activity of the glycoengineered version of hPR1A3 is likely to be clinically beneficial.
Project description:Background: Stimulator of Interferon Genes (STING) is an innate immune sensor for cytosolic DNA. STING signaling activation is indispensable for type I interferon response and the anti-cancer immune response by CD8+ T cells. The aim of this study was to characterize intratumoral STING expression pattern and its clinical implication in colorectal cancer (CRC). Methods: We analyzed STING and CD8 expression in 225 CRC patients who underwent surgical resection. Clinicopathological variables and survival outcomes were analyzed according to STING expression levels. Mice with syngeneic MC38 tumors were also treated with a STING agonist, and tumor microenvironments were analyzed using immunofluorescent staining and flow cytometry. Results: Distinct STING expression was observed in the CRC tumor specimens. Patients with higher STING expression had early stage cancer with increased intratumoral CD8+ T cell infiltration and less frequent lymphovascular invasion. Compared to CRC patients with lower STING expression, those with higher STING expression had longer overall and recurrence-free survival. Multivariate Cox regression model also revealed higher STING expression to be an independent prognostic factor for better overall survival. When MC38 colon tumors were treated with intratumoral injection of STING agonist, tumor growth was remarkably suppressed with increased intratumoral CD8+ T cell infiltration. Moreover, T-cell activation markers, ICOS and IFN-?, were also upregulated in CD8+ T cells, indicating enhanced effector T cell function after STING treatment. Conclusion: We confirmed the distinct STING expression in CRC and demonstrated its independent prognostic value in survival outcomes. STING could be a potential therapeutic target that enhances anti-cancer immune response in CRC.
Project description:Tumors arise and grow despite anti-cancer immune responses. These responses can be stimulated by immunotherapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors (e.g. anti-PD1 antibodies) and chimeric antigen receptors (CAR). Efficacy of these agents in solid tumors including colorectal cancers (CRC) is limited by immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) that prevents killing of malignant cells by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). Understanding the nature of TME-generated immunosuppression is of paramount importance. Here we report that TME elicited immunosuppression via eliminating activated CTL; this elimination required TME stress-induced downregulation of the IFNAR1 chain of type I interferon (IFN) receptor and attenuation of its signaling. Downregulation of IFNAR1 was observed in human colorectal cancers (CRC) and in mouse CRC models where it was required for efficient tumor development and progression. Stabilization of IFNAR1 on CTL improved their survival and increased anti- tumor activities of CAR T cells and PD1 inhibitors thereby providing a rationale for targeting IFNAR1 degradation for immunotherapies optimization. Two genotypes of mice were examined either 9 or 21 days post injection of MC38 colon cancer cells or MC38mRFP cells, respectively. 2-3 replicate mice were analyzed on separate arrays for each condition. 6 conditions in total were analyzed.
Project description:The goals of the study were to elucidate the immune mechanisms that contribute to desirable complete remissions of murine colon tumors treated with single radiation dose of 30 Gy. This dose is at the upper end of the ablative range used clinically to treat advanced or metastatic colorectal, liver, and non-small cell lung tumors.Changes in the tumor immune microenvironment of single tumor nodules exposed to radiation were studied using 21-day (>1 cm in diameter) CT26 and MC38 colon tumors. These are well-characterized weakly immunogenic tumors.We found that the high-dose radiation transformed the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment resulting in an intense CD8(+) T-cell tumor infiltrate, and a loss of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC). The change was dependent on antigen cross-presenting CD8(+) dendritic cells, secretion of IFN?, and CD4(+)T cells expressing CD40L. Antitumor CD8(+) T cells entered tumors shortly after radiotherapy, reversed MDSC infiltration, and mediated durable remissions in an IFN?-dependent manner. Interestingly, extended fractionated radiation regimen did not result in robust CD8(+) T-cell infiltration.For immunologically sensitive tumors, these results indicate that remissions induced by a short course of high-dose radiotherapy depend on the development of antitumor immunity that is reflected by the nature and kinetics of changes induced in the tumor cell microenvironment. These results suggest that systematic examination of the tumor immune microenvironment may help in optimizing the radiation regimen used to treat tumors by adding a robust immune response.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The Tn neoantigen (GalNAcα1-O-Ser/Thr) is an O-glycan expressed in various types of human cancers. Studies in several Tn-expressing cancer cell lines and pancreatic tumors have identified loss of Cosmc expression caused by either mutations or promoter hypermethylation. In this study, we explored the mechanism(s) for Tn expression in human colorectal cancers (CRC). METHODS:Tn-expressing cell populations were isolated from CRC cell lines by Fluorescence-associated cell sorting (FACS). The expression of the Tn and sialylated Tn (STn) antigens, Cosmc, T-synthase, and mucins was characterized in paired specimens with CRC and in CRC cell lines by immunostaining, western blot, and qPCR. RESULTS:Using well-defined monoclonal antibodies, we confirmed prevalent Tn/STn expression in CRC samples. However, a majority of these tumors had elevated T-synthase activity and expression of both Cosmc and T-synthase proteins. Meanwhile, Tn antigen expression was not caused by mucin overproduction. In addition, we found that Tn-expressing CRC cell lines had either loss-of-function mutations in Cosmc or reversible Tn antigen expression, which was not caused by the deficiency of T-synthase activity. CONCLUSIONS:Our results demonstrate multiple mechanisms for Tn expression in CRCs.