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.
Recent studies have indicated a role of complement in regulating T-cell immunity but the mechanism of action of complement in this process remains to be clarified. Here we studied mice deficient in decay-accelerating factor (DAF), a key membrane complement regulator whose deficiency led to increased complement-dependent T-cell immune responses in vivo. By crossing OT-II and OT-I T-cell receptor transgenic mice with DAF-knockout mice, we found that lack of DAF on T cells did not affect their responses to antigen stimulation. Similarly, lack of DAF on antigen-presenting cells (APCs) of naive mice did not alter their T-cell stimulating activity. In contrast, APCs from DAF-knockout mice treated with inflammatory stimuli were found to be more potent T-cell stimulators than cells from similarly treated wild-type mice. Acquisition of higher T-cell stimulating activity by APCs in challenged DAF-knockout mice required C3 and C5aR and was correlated with decreased surface PD-L1 and/or increased CD40 expression. These findings implied that DAF suppressed T-cell immunity as a complement regulator in the context of inflammation but did not play an intrinsic role on T cells or APCs. Collectively, our data suggest a systemic and indirect role of complement in T-cell immunity.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and complement are 2 major components of innate immunity that provide a first-line host defense and shape the adaptive immune responses. We show here that coincidental activation of complement and several TLRs in mice led to the synergistic production of serum factors that promoted T-helper cell 17 (Th17) differentiation from anti-CD3/CD28 or antigen-stimulated T cells. Although multiple TLR-triggered cytokines were regulated by complement, Th17 cell-promoting activity in the serum was correlated with interleukin (IL)-6 induction, and antibody neutralization of IL-6 abrogated the complement effect. By using both in vitro and in vivo approaches, we examined in more detail the mechanism and physiologic implication of complement/TLR4 interaction on Th17-cell differentiation. We found that the complement effect required C5a receptor, was evident at physiologically relevant levels of C5a, and could be demonstrated in cultured peritoneal macrophages as well as in the setting of antigen immunization. Importantly, despite an inhibitory effect of complement on IL-23 production, complement-promoted Th17 cells were functionally competent in causing autoimmunity in an adoptive transfer model of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Collectively, these data establish a link between complement/TLR interaction and Th17-cell differentiation and provide new insight into the mechanism of action of complement in autoimmunity.
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