Stem cells play critical roles both in the development of cancer and therapy resistance. Although mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can actively migrate to tumor sites, their impact on CAR-T immunotherapy has been little addressed. Using an in vitro cell co-culture model including lymphoma cells and macrophages, here we report that CAR-T cell-mediated cytotoxicity was significantly inhibited in the presence of MSCs. MSCs caused an increase of CD4+ T cells and Treg cells but a decrease of CD8+ T cells. In addition, MSCs stimulated the expression of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and programmed cell death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) which contributes to the immune-suppressive function of tumors. Moreover, MSCs suppressed key components of the NLRP3 inflammasome by modulating mitochondrial ROS release. Interestingly, all these suppressive events hindering CAR-T efficacy could be abrogated if the STC1 gene, which encodes the glycoprotein hormone staniocalcin-1, was knockdown in MSC. Using xenograft mice, we confirmed that CAR-T function could also be inhibited by MSC in vivo and STC1 played a critical role. These data revealed a novel function of MSC and staniocalcin-1 in suppressing CAR-T efficacy, which should be considered in cancer therapy and may also have potential applications in controlling the toxicity arising from the excessive immune response.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript. Source Data files have been provided for Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4.
- Wenjian Ma
- Qingxi Liu
- Wenjian Ma
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All animal experiments and procedures were approved by the Ethics Committee of Tianjin First Central Hospital (approval#2021-SYDWLL-000301).
Human subjects: Ethical approval and informed consent were obtained. Patients with lymphoma and Healthy donors agreed to participate in this experiment within a clinical trial at the Department of Hematology at Tianjin First Central Hospital (Tianjin, China) with autologous CAR-T 19 cells (ChiCTR-ONN-16009862; Tianjin First Central Hospital Medical Ethics Committee) in accordance with the World Medical Association medical research guidelines. Peripheral blood samples were obtained from healthy male donors (n = 3) in Tianjin First Central Hospital.
- Ping-Chih Ho, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Switzerland
- Received: August 24, 2022
- Preprint posted: September 22, 2022 (view preprint)
- Accepted: February 12, 2023
- Accepted Manuscript published: February 13, 2023 (version 1)
- Accepted Manuscript updated: March 6, 2023 (version 2)
- Version of Record published: March 16, 2023 (version 3)
- Version of Record updated: March 21, 2023 (version 4)
© 2023, Zhang et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Pancreatic cancer is the seventh leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, and despite advancements in disease management, the 5 -year survival rate stands at only 12%. Triptolides have potent anti-tumor activity against different types of cancers, including pancreatic cancer, however poor solubility and toxicity limit their translation into clinical use. We synthesized a novel pro-drug of triptolide, (E)–19-[(1’-benzoyloxy-1’-phenyl)-methylidene]-Triptolide (CK21), which was formulated into an emulsion for in vitro and in vivo testing in rats and mice, and used human pancreatic cancer cell lines and patient-derived pancreatic tumor organoids. A time-course transcriptomic profiling of tumor organoids treated with CK21 in vitro was conducted to define its mechanism of action, as well as transcriptomic profiling at a single time point post-CK21 administration in vivo. Intravenous administration of emulsified CK21 resulted in the stable release of triptolide, and potent anti-proliferative effects on human pancreatic cancer cell lines and patient-derived pancreatic tumor organoids in vitro, and with minimal toxicity in vivo. Time course transcriptomic profiling of tumor organoids treated with CK21 in vitro revealed <10 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) at 3 hr and ~8,000 DEGs at 12 hr. Overall inhibition of general RNA transcription was observed, and Ingenuity pathway analysis together with functional cellular assays confirmed inhibition of the NF-κB pathway, increased oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondrial dysfunction, leading ultimately to increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, reduced B-cell-lymphoma protein 2 (BCL2) expression, and mitochondrial-mediated tumor cell apoptosis. Thus, CK21 is a novel pro-drug of triptolide that exerts potent anti-proliferative effects on human pancreatic tumors by inhibiting the NF-κB pathway, leading ultimately to mitochondrial-mediated tumor cell apoptosis.
The Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) methylates H3K27 to regulate development and cell fate by transcriptional silencing. Alteration of PRC2 is associated with various cancers. Here, we show that mouse Kdm1a deletion causes a dramatic reduction of PRC2 proteins, whereas mouse null mutation of L3mbtl3 or Dcaf5 results in PRC2 accumulation and increased H3K27 trimethylation. The catalytic subunit of PRC2, EZH2, is methylated at lysine 20 (K20), promoting EZH2 proteolysis by L3MBTL3 and the CLR4DCAF5 ubiquitin ligase. KDM1A (LSD1) demethylates the methylated K20 to stabilize EZH2. K20 methylation is inhibited by AKT-mediated phosphorylation of serine 21 in EZH2. Mouse Ezh2K20R/K20R mutants develop hepatosplenomegaly associated with high GFI1B expression, and Ezh2K20R/K20R mutant bone marrows expand hematopoietic stem cells and downstream hematopoietic populations. Our studies reveal that EZH2 is regulated by methylation-dependent proteolysis, which is negatively controlled by AKT-mediated S21 phosphorylation to establish a methylation-phosphorylation switch to regulate the PRC2 activity and hematopoiesis.