Project description:Among the features that distinguish type 1 innate lymphoid cells (ILC1s) from natural killer (NK) cells is a gene signature indicative of 'imprinting' by cytokines of the TGF-? family. We studied mice in which ILC1s and NK cells lacked SMAD4, a signal transducer that facilitates the canonical signaling pathway common to all cytokines of the TGF-? family. While SMAD4 deficiency did not affect ILC1 differentiation, NK cells unexpectedly acquired an ILC1-like gene signature and were unable to control tumor metastasis or viral infection. Mechanistically, SMAD4 restrained non-canonical TGF-? signaling mediated by the cytokine receptor TGF?R1 in NK cells. NK cells from a SMAD4-deficient person affected by polyposis were also hyper-responsive to TGF-?. These results identify SMAD4 as a previously unknown regulator that restricts non-canonical TGF-? signaling in NK cells.
Project description:Transforming growth factor-? (TGF-?) suppresses innate and adaptive immune responses via multiple mechanisms. TGF-? also importantly contributes to the formation of an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment thereby promoting tumor growth. Amongst others, TGF-? impairs tumor recognition by cytotoxic lymphocytes via NKG2D. NKG2D is a homodimeric C-type lectin-like receptor expressed on virtually all human NK cells and cytotoxic T cells, and stimulates their effector functions upon engagement by NKG2D ligands (NKG2DL). While NKG2DL are mostly absent from healthy cells, their expression is induced by cellular stress and malignant transformation, and, accordingly, frequently detected on various tumor cells. Hence, the NKG2D axis is thought to play a decisive role in cancer immunosurveillance and, obviously, often is compromised in clinically apparent tumors. There is mounting evidence that TGF-?, produced by tumor cells and immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, plays a key role in blunting the NKG2D-mediated tumor surveillance. Here, we review the current knowledge on the impairment of NKG2D-mediated cancer immunity through TGF-? and discuss therapeutic approaches aiming at counteracting this major immune escape pathway. By reducing tumor-associated expression of NKG2DL and blinding cytotoxic lymphocytes through down-regulation of NKG2D, TGF-? is acting upon both sides of the NKG2D axis severely compromising NKG2D-mediated tumor rejection. Consequently, novel therapies targeting the TGF-? pathway are expected to reinvigorate NKG2D-mediated tumor elimination and thereby to improve the survival of cancer patients.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells are key components of the innate immune system, providing potent antitumor immunity. Here, we show that the tumor growth factor-? (TGF-?)/SMAD signaling pathway is an important mechanism for NK cell immune evasion in childhood B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We characterized NK cells in 50 consecutive children with B-ALL at diagnosis, end induction and during maintenance therapy compared with age-matched controls. ALL-NK cells at diagnosis had an inhibitory phenotype associated with impaired function, most notably interferon-? production and cytotoxicity. By maintenance therapy, these phenotypic and functional abnormalities partially normalized; however, cytotoxicity against autologous blasts remained impaired. We identified ALL-derived TGF-?1 to be an important mediator of leukemia-induced NK cell dysfunction. The TGF-?/SMAD signaling pathway was constitutively activated in ALL-NK cells at diagnosis and end induction when compared with healthy controls and patients during maintenance therapy. Culture of ALL blasts with healthy NK cells induced NK dysfunction and an inhibitory phenotype, mediated by activation of the TGF-?/SMAD signaling pathway, and abrogated by blocking TGF-?. These data indicate that by regulating the TGF-?/SMAD pathway, ALL blasts induce changes in NK cells to evade innate immune surveillance, thus highlighting the importance of developing novel therapies to target this inhibitory pathway and restore antileukemic cytotoxicity.
Project description:The tumor microenvironment can polarize innate immune cells to a proangiogenic phenotype. Decidual natural killer (dNK) cells show an angiogenic phenotype, yet the role for NK innate lymphoid cells in tumor angiogenesis remains to be defined. We investigated NK cells from patients with surgically resected non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and controls using flow cytometric and functional analyses. The CD56(+)CD16(-) NK subset in NSCLC patients, which represents the predominant NK subset in tumors and a minor subset in adjacent lung and peripheral blood, was associated with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), placental growth factor (PIGF), and interleukin-8 (IL-8)/CXCL8 production. Peripheral blood CD56(+)CD16(-) NK cells from patients with the squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) subtype showed higher VEGF and PlGF production compared to those from patients with adenocarcinoma (AdC) and controls. Higher IL-8 production was found for both SCC and AdC compared to controls. Supernatants derived from NSCLC CD56(+)CD16(-) NK cells induced endothelial cell chemotaxis and formation of capillary-like structures in vitro, particularly evident in SCC patients and absent from controls. Finally, exposure to transforming growth factor-?(1) (TGF?(1)), a cytokine associated with dNK polarization, upregulated VEGF and PlGF in peripheral blood CD56(+)CD16(-) NK cells from healthy subjects. Our data suggest that NK cells in NSCLC act as proangiogenic cells, particularly evident for SCC and in part mediated by TGF?(1).
Project description:An understanding of natural killer (NK) cell physiology in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) has led to the use of NK cell transfer in patients, demonstrating promising clinical results. However, AML is still characterized by a high relapse rate and poor overall survival. In addition to conventional NKs that can be considered the innate counterparts of CD8 T cells, another family of innate lymphocytes has been recently described with phenotypes and functions mirroring those of helper CD4 T cells. Here, in blood and tissues, we identified a CD56+ innate cell population harboring mixed transcriptional and phenotypic attributes of conventional helper innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) and lytic NK cells. These CD56+ ILC1-like cells possess strong cytotoxic capacities that are impaired in AML patients at diagnosis but are restored upon remission. Their cytotoxicity is KIR independent and relies on the expression of TRAIL, NKp30, NKp80, and NKG2A. However, the presence of leukemic blasts, HLA-E-positive cells, and/or transforming growth factor-?1 (TGF-?1) strongly affect their cytotoxic potential, at least partially by reducing the expression of cytotoxic-related molecules. Notably, CD56+ ILC1-like cells are also present in the NK cell preparations used in NK transfer-based clinical trials. Overall, we identified an NK cell-related CD56+ ILC population involved in tumor immunosurveillance in humans, and we propose that restoring their functions with anti-NKG2A antibodies and/or small molecules inhibiting TGF-?1 might represent a novel strategy for improving current immunotherapies.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphoid cells with potent antitumor activity. One of the most NK cell cytotoxicity-sensitive tumor types is sarcoma, an aggressive mesenchyme-derived neoplasm. While a combination of radical surgery and radio- and chemotherapy can successfully control local disease, patients with advanced sarcomas remain refractory to current treatment regimens, calling for novel therapeutic strategies. There is accumulating evidence for NK cell-mediated immunosurveillance of sarcoma cells during all stages of the disease, highlighting the potential of using NK cells as a therapeutic tool. However, sarcomas display multiple immunoevasion mechanisms that can suppress NK cell function leading to an uncontrolled tumor outgrowth. Here, we review the current evidence for NK cells' role in immune surveillance of sarcoma during disease initiation, promotion, progression, and metastasis, as well as the molecular mechanisms behind sarcoma-mediated NK cell suppression. Further, we apply this basic understanding of NK-sarcoma crosstalk in order to identify and summarize the most promising candidates for NK cell-based sarcoma immunotherapy.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells play important roles in immune surveillance. However, the tumor microenvironment suppresses NK cell function and allows cancer cells to evade immune detection. In this study, we investigated whether the thyroid cancer cell microenvironment has this effect on NK cells. We found that prostaglandin (PG) E2 produced by thyroid cancer cells suppressed the cytolytic activity of NK cells by inhibiting the expression of the natural cytotoxicity receptors NKp44 and NKp30 and the death receptor tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand. PGE2 and cyclooxygenase-2 were highly expressed in thyroid cancer cells; moreover, anaplastic thyroid cancer cells released higher amounts of PGE2 than the papillary subtype, which was associated with suppression of NK cell-inducing nuclear factor-?B and mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathways via PGE2 receptor (EP) 2 and EP4 expressed on the NK cell surface. In addition, PGE2 inhibited the functional maturation of NK cells and reduced their cytotoxicity against target cells. These results indicate that PGE2 promotes thyroid cancer progression by inhibiting NK cell maturation and cytotoxicity. Thus, therapeutic strategies that target PGE2 in thyroid cancer could potentiate the immune response and improve patient prognosis.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells are innate lymphoid cells that play a pivotal role in tumor surveillance. Exosomes are nanovesicles released into the extracellular environment via the endosomal vesicle pathway and represent an important mode of intercellular communication. The ability of anticancer chemotherapy to enhance the immunogenic potential of malignant cells mainly relies on the establishment of the immunogenic cell death (ICD) and the release of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). Moreover, the activation of the DNA damage response (DDR) and the induction of senescence represent two crucial modalities aimed at promoting the clearance of drug-treated tumor cells by NK cells. Emerging evidence has shown that stress stimuli provoke an increased release of exosome secretion. Remarkably, tumor-derived exosomes (Tex) produced in response to stress carry distinct type of DAMPs that activate innate immune cell populations. Moreover, stress-induced ligands for the activating receptor NKG2D are transported by this class of nanovesicles. Here, we will discuss how Tex interact with NK cells and provide insight into their potential role in response to chemotherapy-induced stress stimuli. The capability of some "danger signals" carried by exosomes that indirectly affect the NK cell activity in the tumor microenvironment will be also addressed.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells, key members of a distinct hematopoietic lineage, innate lymphoid cells, are not only critical effectors that mediate cytotoxicity toward tumor and virally infected cells but also regulate inflammation, antigen presentation, and the adaptive immune response. It has been shown that NK cells can regulate the development and activation of many other components of the immune response, such as dendritic cells, which in turn, modulate the function of NK cells in multiple synergistic feed back loops driven by cell-cell contact, and the secretion of cytokines and chemokines that control effector function and migration of cells to sites of immune activation. The signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)-3 is involved in driving almost all of the pathways that control NK cytolytic activity as well as the reciprocal regulatory interactions between NK cells and other components of the immune system. In the context of tumor immunology, NK cells are a first line of defense that eliminates pre-cancerous and transformed cells early in the process of carcinogenesis, through a mechanism of "immune surveillance." Even after tumors become established, NK cells are critical components of anticancer immunity: dysfunctional NK cells are often found in the peripheral blood of cancer patients, and the lack of NK cells in the tumor microenvironment often correlates to poor prognosis. The pathways and soluble factors activated in tumor-associated NK cells, cancer cells, and regulatory myeloid cells, which determine the outcome of cancer immunity, are all critically regulated by STAT3. Using the tumor microenvironment as a paradigm, we present here an overview of the research that has revealed fundamental mechanisms through which STAT3 regulates all aspects of NK cell biology, including NK development, activation, target cell killing, and fine tuning of the innate and adaptive immune responses.
Project description:Natural killer (NK) cells are classically viewed as lymphocytes that provide innate surveillance against virally infected cells and tumour cells through the release of cytolytic mediators and interferon (IFN)-gamma. In humans, blood CD56(dim) NK cells specialize in the lysis of cell targets. In the lymph nodes, CD56(bright) NK cells secrete IFN-gamma cooperating with dendritic cells and T cells in the generation of adaptive responses. Here we report the characterization of a human NK cell subset located in mucosa-associated lymphoid tissues, such as tonsils and Peyer's patches, which is hard-wired to secrete interleukin (IL)-22, IL-26 and leukaemia inhibitory factor. These NK cells, which we refer to as NK-22 cells, are triggered by acute exposure to IL-23. In vitro, NK-22-secreted cytokines stimulate epithelial cells to secrete IL-10, proliferate and express a variety of mitogenic and anti-apoptotic molecules. NK-22 cells are also found in mouse mucosa-associated lymphoid tissues and appear in the small intestine lamina propria during bacterial infection, suggesting that NK-22 cells provide an innate source of IL-22 that may help constrain inflammation and protect mucosal sites.