Diagnostic and prognostic impact of serum-soluble UL16-binding protein 2 in lung cancer patients.
ABSTRACT: UL16-binding protein 2 (ULBP2) is one of the ligands for NKG2D (NKG2DL). ULBP2 expression is induced in transformed cells and is recognized by immune effector cells via the activating NKG2D immunoreceptor. Soluble forms of NKG2DL have been reported in the serum of patients with several types of cancer. The present study investigated the diagnostic and prognostic significance of serum-soluble ULBP2 (sULBP2) in lung cancer patients. We used flow cytometry to evaluate the surface expression of NKG2DL by various lung cancer cells, while sULBP2 was measured using our original ELISA. In addition, the immunological effect of sULBP2 on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) was examined by the (51) Cr release assay. We found that ULBP2 was highly expressed and that the sULBP2 level was elevated in supernatants of cultured non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells as well as in the serum of NSCLC patients. ULBP2 levels were especially high in squamous cell carcinoma (SQ) patients. Clinical stage IIIB and IV NSCLC patients with a sULBP2 level ? 8.7 pg/mL showed significantly shorter survival than patients with sULBP2 <8.7 pg/mL. In multivariate analysis, a sULBP2 level ? 8.7 pg/mL (hazard ratio [HR], 2.13; P = 0.038) and clinical stage IV (HR, 2.65; P = 0.019) were independent determinants of a poor outcome. As a possible mechanism, we demonstrated that sULBP2 directly suppresses the cytolytic activity of PBMC. In conclusion, ULBP2 is the most significant NKG2DL for lung cancer, and sULBP2 is useful in the diagnosis of SQ and as a prognostic indicator for patients with advanced NSCLC.
Project description:UL16-binding protein (ULBP) 1-6 and MHC class I chain-related molecule A and B (MICA/B) are NK group 2, member D (NKG2D) ligands, which are specifically expressed in infected or transformed cells and are recognized by NK cells via NKG2D-NKG2D ligand interactions. We previously reported that MICA/B overexpression predicted improved clinical outcomes in patients with resected non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the clinicopathological features and prognostic significance of ULBPs in NSCLC remain unclear. Here,ULBP1-6 expression was evaluated based on immunohistochemistry of 91 NSCLC samples from patients following radical surgery. ULBPs were expressed by the majority of NSCLC. Either ULBP1 or ULBP2/5/6 overexpression was associated with squamous-cell carcinoma histology, whereas ULBP4 overexpression was associated with younger age and adenocarcinoma histology. Although overexpression of ULBP1-6 did not impact clinical outcomes in NSCLC patients, integrative profiling with cluster analysis classified patients into 3 subgroups based on the expression pattern of NKG2D ligands. The subgroup characterized by ULBP1 or ULBP2/5/6 high expressing but ULBP4 low expressing tumors showed poor overall survival. Taken together with previous results, NSCLC histological subtype strongly correlates with NKG2D ligands expression pattern. NKG2D ligands expression levels assessed by multiple immune parameters could predict clinical outcomes of patients with NSCLC.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a disease with great morphological and genetic heterogeneity, which complicates its prognosis and treatment. The hypomethylating agents azacitidine (Vidaza®, AZA) and decitabine (Dacogen®, DAC) have been approved for the treatment of AML patients, but their mechanisms of action are poorly understood. Natural killer (NK) cells play an important role in the recognition of AML blasts through the interaction of the activating NKG2D receptor with its ligands (NKG2DL: MICA/B and ULBPs1-3). However, soluble NKG2DL (sNKG2DL) can be released from the cell surface, impairing immune recognition. Here, we examined whether hypomethylating agents modulate the release of sNKG2DL from AML cells. Results demonstrated that AZA- and DAC-treated AML cells reduce the release of sNKG2DL, preventing downregulation of NKG2D receptor on the cell surface and promoting immune recognition mediated by NKG2D-NKG2DL engagement. We show that the shedding of MICA, MICB and ULBP2 is inhibited by the increased expression of TIMP3, an ADAM17 inhibitor, after DAC treatment. The TIMP3 gene is highly methylated in AML cells lines and in AML patients (25.5%), in which it is significantly associated with an adverse cytogenetic prognosis of the disease. Overall, TIMP3 could be a target of the demethylating treatments in AML patients, leading to a decrease in MICA, MICB and ULBP2 shedding and the enhancement of the lytic activity of NK cells through the immune recognition mediated by the NKG2D receptor.
Project description:Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a rare lung disease of women that leads to progressive cyst formation and accelerated loss of pulmonary function. Neoplastic smooth muscle cells from an unknown source metastasize to the lung and drive destructive remodeling. Given the role of NK cells in immune surveillance, we postulated that NK cell activating receptors and their cognate ligands are involved in LAM pathogenesis. We found that ligands for the NKG2D activating receptor UL-16 binding protein 2 (ULBP2) and ULBP3 are localized in cystic LAM lesions and pulmonary nodules. We found elevated soluble serum ULBP2 (mean = 575 pg/ml ± 142) in 50 of 100 subjects and ULBP3 in 30 of 100 (mean = 8,300 pg/ml ± 1,515) subjects. LAM patients had fewer circulating NKG2D<sup>+</sup> NK cells and decreased NKG2D surface expression. Lung function decline was associated with soluble NKG2D ligand (sNKG2DL) detection. The greatest rate of decline forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV<sub>1</sub>, -124 ± 30 ml/year) in the 48 months after enrollment (NHLBI LAM Registry) occurred in patients expressing both ULBP2 and ULBP3, whereas patients with undetectable sNKG2DL levels had the lowest rate of FEV<sub>1</sub> decline (-32.7 ± 10 ml/year). These data suggest a role for NK cells, sNKG2DL, and the innate immune system in LAM pathogenesis.
Project description:Natural killer group 2D (NKG2D), an activating receptor on natural killer (NK) cells and a subset of T cells, recognizes stress-inducible proteins, including MICA and ULBP2, which are present on infected or transformed cells. Whether each NKG2D ligand (NKG2DL) has a distinct biological role is not clear. Using superresolution microscopy, we found that NKG2D is constitutively arranged in nanoclusters at the surface of human primary NK cells. Nanoclusters of NKG2D became smaller upon ligation with MICA but became larger upon activation by ULBP2. In addition, ULBP2 induced the reorganization of nanoclusters of the cytokine receptor subunit for both interleukin-2 (IL-2) and IL-15 (IL-2/IL-15R?), such that these cytokine receptor subunits coalesced with nanoclusters of NKG2D. Functionally, the response of NK cells activated by ULBP2 was augmented by an interaction between ULBP2-bound NKG2D and IL-15R ligated by IL-15 (trans-presented by IL-15R?-coated surfaces). These data suggest that NKG2DLs are not equivalent in their capacity to activate NKG2D and establish a previously unknown paradigm in how ligand-induced changes to the nanoscale organization of the cell surface can affect immune responses.
Project description:NKG2D is one of the major activating receptors of natural killer (NK) cells and binds to several ligands (NKG2DLs). NKG2DLs are expressed on malignant cells and sensitize them to early elimination by cytotoxic lymphocytes. We investigated the clinical importance of NKG2DLs and the mechanism of NKG2DL regulation in breast cancer (BC). Among the NKG2DLs MICA/B and ULBP1/2/3, the expression levels of MICA/B in BC tissues were inversely associated with the Tumor Node Metastasis stage. We first found that the high expression of MICB, but not MICA, was an independent prognostic factor for overall survival in patients with BC. Investigation into the mechanism revealed that a group of microRNAs (miRNAs) belonging to the miR-17-92 cluster, especially miR-20a, decreased the expression of ULBP2 and MICA/B. These miRNAs downregulated the expression of MICA/B by targeting the MICA/B 3'-untranslated region and downregulated ULBP2 by inhibiting the MAPK/ERK signaling pathway. Functional analysis showed that the silencing of NKG2DL-targeting miRNAs in BC cells increased NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity in vitro and inhibited immune escape in vivo. In addition, histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis) increased NKG2DL expression in BC cells by inhibiting members of the miR-17-92 cluster. Thus, targeting miRNAs with antisense inhibitors or HDACis may represent a novel approach for increasing the immunogenicity of BC.
Project description:NKG2D (natural killer group 2, member D) is thought to play an important role in mediating the activation of anticancer immune response. Expression of NKG2D ligands (NKG2DLs) is pronounced in malignancies and the heterogeneity of NKG2DL expression remains unclear. Here, we investigate the expression and clinical significance of NKG2DLs in cervical cancer.Immunohistochemical analyses of MICA/B, ULBP1, ULBP2, ULBP3, RAET1E, and RAET1G were performed using tissue microarray analysis of 200 cervical cancers, 327 high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasias (CINs), 99 low-grade CINs, and 541 matched nonadjacent normal cervical epithelial tissues and compared the data with clinicopathologic variables, including the survival of cervical cancer patients.MICA/B, ULBP1, and RAET1E expression was higher in cervical cancer than in low-grade CIN (p<0.001, p=0.012, p=0.013, respectively) and normal cervix (all p<0.001). Among these markers, expression of ULBP1 was significantly different depending on patient tumor stage (p=0.010) and tumor size (p=0.045). ULBP1 expression was correlated with MICA/B (p<0.001) and ULBP2 (p=0.002) expression in cervical cancer. While MICA/B+ or ULBP1+ patients had improved disease-free survival time (p=0.027 and p=0.009, respectively) relative to that of the low expression group, RAET1E+ or RAET1G+ was correlated with shorter survival time (p=0.018 and p=0.029, respectively). However, in terms of overall survival, the ULBP1+ group had significantly longer survival time than the low expression group (p=0.009). Multivariate analysis indicated that MICA/B+/ULBP1+ (HR=0.16, p=0.015) and ULBP1+ (HR=0.31, p=0.024) are independent prognostic factors of disease-free survival in cervical cancer.High expression of either ULBP1 or MICA/B and ULBP1 combined is an indicator of good prognosis in cervical cancer, suggesting their potential utility as prognostic tests in clinical assessment.
Project description:NKG2D ligands (NKG2DLs) are widely expressed on ovarian cancers to various degrees, making them attractive targets for immunotherapy. Here, we applied a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) approach for the targeting of NKG2DLs expressed on human ovarian cancer cells and evaluated the impact of pharmacological upregulation of NKG2DLs on immune recognition. Various NKG2DLs, including MICA/B and ULBP-1, -2, -3, and -4, were expressed at various levels on the surface of all established ovarian cancer cell lines and primary ovarian cancer samples tested. To redirect human T cells against NKG2DLs, an NKG2DL-specific CAR was generated by fusing the extracellular domain of the NKG2D receptor to the 4-1BB costimulatory and CD3-? chain signaling domains. In vitro expansion of chimeric NKG2D CAR T cells was delayed compared with untransduced T cells and control CAR T cells; the likely result of fratricide among activated T cells expressing NKG2DLs. However, NKG2D CAR T cells did expand and were selectively enriched during prolonged culture. In coculture, CD4(+) and CD8(+) NKG2D CAR T cells specifically recognized and killed NKG2DL-expressing ovarian cancer cell lines but not NKG2DL-negative cells. Notably, pretreatment of ovarian cancer cells expressing moderate to low levels of NKG2DLs with the histone deacetylase inhibitor sodium valproate (VPA) upregulated NKG2DL cell surface expression and consequently enhanced their immune recognition by chimeric NKG2D CAR T cells. Our results demonstrate that VPA-induced upregulation of NKG2DL expression enhances the immune recognition of ovarian cancer cells by engineered NKG2D CAR T cells, and rationalizes the use of VPA in combination with NKG2DL-targeted immunotherapy in ovarian cancer.
Project description:The activating receptor natural killer group 2, member D (NKG2D) is involved in both innate and adaptive immunities, and functions as a "master switch" in determining the activation status of natural killer (NK) cells. NKG2D binds to a diverse family of ligand molecules, which are only expressed at low levels in normal cells but can be upregulated by a cellular stress response. The NKG2D-NKG2D ligand (NKG2DL) pathway has been considered to be promising target for immunotherapy because of the selective expression of "stress-induced ligands" on tumor cells and the strong NK cell activating potency of NKG2D. Diverse strategies that are aimed at targeting the NKG2D pathway for cancer therapy are based on a thorough understanding of this mechanism, as well as that of NKG2D-mediated cancer immunity. In this review, we summarize the major findings regarding the antitumor immune response mediated by the NKG2D receptor and its ligands, and discuss the potential clinical applications of targeting the NKG2D/NKG2DL pathway for immunotherapy in cancer patients.
Project description:UL16 binding proteins (ULBPs) are a family of cell surface proteins that are present in transformed and stressed cells and ligands for NKG2D. Soluble NKG2D ligands have been found in sera from cancer patients with their protein concentrations correlated with poor cancer prognosis. Here we show, for the first time, that human tumor cells lost their surface expression of ULBP2, but not ULBP1 and ULBP3, during NK cell-mediated cytolysis. In contrast to spontaneous shedding of NKG2D ligands, NK cytolysis-mediated shedding of ULBP2 was linked to target cell apoptosis, although both resulted from metalloproteinase cleavages. Inhibition of ULBP2 shedding by a metalloproteinase inhibitor BB-94 lead to reduced NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity and cytokine production. These results illustrate a regulation of NK cell effector functions through cytolysis-induced NKG2D ligand shedding. Consequently, compounds inhibiting NKG2D ligand shedding may offer therapeutic means to reduce excessive pathogenic NK cell activities.
Project description:Platelets promote metastasis, among others by coating cancer cells traveling through the blood, which results in protection from NK cell immune-surveillance. The underlying mechanisms, however, remain to be fully elucidated. Here we report that platelet-coating reduces surface expression of NKG2D ligands, in particular MICA and MICB, on tumor cells, which was mirrored by enhanced release of their soluble ectodomains. Similar results were obtained upon exposure of tumor cells to platelet-releasate and can be attributed to the sheddases ADAM10 and ADAM17 that are detectable on the platelet surface and in releasate following activation and at higher levels on platelets of patients with metastasized lung cancer compared with healthy controls. Platelet-mediated NKG2DL-shedding in turn resulted in impaired "induced self" recognition by NK cells as revealed by diminished NKG2D-dependent lysis of tumor cells. Our results indicate that platelet-mediated NKG2DL-shedding may be involved in immune-evasion of (metastasizing) tumor cells from NK cell reactivity.