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Impaired NK cell recognition of vemurafenib-treated melanoma cells is overcome by simultaneous application of histone deacetylase inhibitors

AuthorsLópez-Cobo, Sheila; Pieper, N.; Campos-Silva, Carmen; García-Cuesta, Eva María; Reyburn, H. T. ; Paschen, Annette; Valés-Gómez, Mar
KeywordsNK cell, NKG2D, BRAF inhibitors, melanoma, combination therapy, HDAC inhibitor, DNAM1
Issue Date2017
PublisherTaylor & Francis
CitationOncoImmunology 7(2): e1392426 (2018)
AbstractTherapy of metastatic melanoma advanced recently with the clinical implementation of signalling pathway inhibitors, such as vemurafenib, specifically targeting mutant BRAF. In general, patients experience remarkable clinical responses under BRAF inhibitor (BRAFi) treatment but eventually progress within 6–8 months due to resistance development. Responding metastases show an increased immune cell infiltrate, including also NK cells, that, however, is no longer detectable in BRAFi-resistant lesions, suggesting NK cell activity should be exploited to prevent disease progression. Here, we examined the effects of BRAFi on the expression of ligands targeting activating NK cells receptors immediately after treatment onset, prior to resistance development. We demonstrate that BRAF mutant melanoma cells cultured in the presence of vemurafenib, strongly decreased surface expression of ligands for NK activating receptors including the NKG2D-ligand, MICA, and the DNAM-1 ligand, CD155, and became significantly less susceptible to NK cell attack. NKG2D-ligand protein downregulation was due to a significant decrease in mRNA levels, already detectable 24 h after drug treatment. Interestingly, vemurafenib-induced MICA downregulation could be counteracted by treatment of melanoma cells with the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor (HDACi) sodium butyrate, that also upregulated the DNAM1-ligand, Nectin-2. HDACi treatment enhanced surface expression of NKG2D-ligands in the presence of BRAFi, accompanied by recovery of NK cell recognition, but only upon simultaneous drug application. These results suggest that co-administration of BRAFi and HDAC inhibitors as well as having direct effects on melanoma cell survival, could also synergise to improve NK cell recognition and avoid tumour immune evasion.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2162402X.2017.1392426
Identifiersdoi: 10.1080/2162402X.2017.1392426
e-issn: 2162-402X
pmid: 29308322
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