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Keywords:

  • T cell adoptive therapy;
  • immunosuppression;
  • preclinical melanoma;
  • cytokine receptor;
  • stat5

Summary

Discovery of tumor antigen (TA) recognized by autologous T cells (TCs) in patients with melanoma has led to clinical protocols using either vaccination or adoptive transfer of TA-specific TCs. However, efficacy of these treatments has been hampered by inhibitory effects exerted on tumor-infiltrating TCs by tumor-intrinsic mediators or by recruitment of immunosuppressive cells. A mouse model of autochthonous melanoma recapitulates some aspects of inflammatory melanoma development in patients. These include a systemic Th2-/Th17-oriented chronic inflammation, recruitment of immunosuppressive myeloid cells and acquisition by tumor-infiltrating TCs of an ‘exhausted’ phenotype characterized by expression of multiple inhibitory receptors including programmed death-1, also expressed on patients' melanoma-infiltrating TCs. Rather than using extracellular blocking reagents to inhibitory surface molecules on TCs, we sought to dampen negative signaling exerted on them. Adoptively transferred TCs presenting increased cytokine receptor signaling due to expression of an active Stat5 transcription factor were efficient at inducing melanoma regression in the preclinical melanoma model. These transferred TCs thrived and retained expression of effector molecules in the melanoma microenvironment, defining a protocol endowing TCs with the ability to resist melanoma-induced immunosuppression.