Radiation therapy has been shown to enhance the efficacy of various T cell-targeted immunotherapies that improve antigen-specific T cell expansion, T regulatory cell depletion, or effector T cell function. Additionally, radiation therapy has been proposed as a means to recruit T cells to the treatment site and modulate cancer cells as effector T cell targets. The significance of these features remains unclear. We set out to determine, in checkpoint inhibitor resistant models, which components of radiation are primarily responsible for overcoming this resistance. In order to model the vaccination effect of radiation, we used a Listeria monocytogenes based vaccine to generate a large population of tumor antigen specific T cells but found that the presence of cells with cytotoxic capacity was unable to replicate the efficacy of radiation with combination checkpoint blockade. Instead, we demonstrated that a major role of radiation was to increase the susceptibility of surviving cancer cells to CD8+ T cell-mediated control through enhanced MHC-I expression. We observed a novel mechanism of genetic induction of MHC-I in cancer cells through upregulation of the MHC-I transactivator NLRC5. These data support the critical role of local modulation of tumors by radiation to improve tumor control with combination immunotherapy.
Earle A. Chiles Research Institute
Zebertavage, Lauren; Alice, Alejandro F; Crittenden, Marka R; and Gough, Michael J., "Transcriptional Upregulation of NLRC5 by Radiation Drives STING- and Interferon-Independent MHC-I Expression on Cancer Cells and T Cell Cytotoxicity." (2020). Articles, Abstracts, and Reports. 3152.