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Rapid functional impairment of natural killer cells following tumor entry limits anti-tumor immunity


Abstract

Immune cell dysfunction within the tumor microenvironment (TME) undermines the control of cancer progression. Established tumors contain phenotypically distinct, tumor-specific natural killer (NK) cells; however, the temporal dynamics, mechanistic underpinning and functional significance of the NK cell compartment remains incompletely understood. Here, we use photo-labeling, combined with longitudinal transcriptomic and cellular analyses, to interrogate the fate of intratumoral NK cells. We reveal that NK cells rapidly lose effector functions and adopt a distinct phenotypic state with features associated with tissue residency. NK cell depletion from established tumors did not alter tumor growth, indicating that intratumoral NK cells cease to actively contribute to anti-tumor responses. IL-15 administration prevented loss of function and improved tumor control, generating intratumoral NK cells with both tissue-residency characteristics and enhanced effector function. Collectively, our data reveals the fate of NK cells after recruitment into tumors and provides insight into how their function may be revived.

Abstract

Immune cell dysfunction within the tumor microenvironment (TME) undermines the control of cancer progression. Established tumors contain phenotypically distinct, tumor-specific natural killer (NK) cells; however, the temporal dynamics, mechanistic underpinning and functional significance of the NK cell compartment remains incompletely understood. Here, we use photo-labeling, combined with longitudinal transcriptomic and cellular analyses, to interrogate the fate of intratumoral NK cells. We reveal that NK cells rapidly lose effector functions and adopt a distinct phenotypic state with features associated with tissue residency. NK cell depletion from established tumors did not alter tumor growth, indicating that intratumoral NK cells cease to actively contribute to anti-tumor responses. IL-15 administration prevented loss of function and improved tumor control, generating intratumoral NK cells with both tissue-residency characteristics and enhanced effector function. Collectively, our data reveals the fate of NK cells after recruitment into tumors and provides insight into how their function may be revived.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > General Chemistry
Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Physical Sciences > General Physics and Astronomy
Language:English
Date:24 January 2024
Deposited On:06 Feb 2024 11:48
Last Modified:30 Apr 2024 01:49
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-024-44789-z
PubMed ID:38267402
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)