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Cancer research

Metalloprotease-mediated tumor cell shedding of B7-H6, the ligand of the natural killer cell-activating receptor NKp30.


PMID 24780758

Abstract

Natural killer (NK) cells are potent immune effector cells capable of mediating antitumor responses. Thus, during immunoediting, tumor cell populations evolve strategies to escape NK-cell-mediated recognition. In this study, we report a novel mechanism of immune escape involving tumor cell shedding of B7-H6, a ligand for the activating receptor NKp30 that mediates NK-cell binding and NK-cell-mediated killing. Tumor cells from different cancer entities released B7-H6 by ectodomain shedding mediated by the cell surface proteases "a disintegrin and metalloproteases" (ADAM)-10 and ADAM-17, as demonstrated through the use of pharmacologic inhibitors or siRNA-mediated gene attenuation. Inhibiting this proteolytic shedding process increased the levels of B7-H6 expressed on the surface of tumor cells, enhancing NKp30-mediated activation of NK cells. Notably, we documented elevated levels of soluble B7-H6 levels in blood sera obtained from a subset of patients with malignant melanoma, compared with healthy control individuals, along with evidence of elevated B7-H6 expression in melanoma specimens in situ. Taken together, our results illustrated a novel mechanism of immune escape in which tumor cells impede NK-mediated recognition by metalloprotease-mediated shedding of B7-H6. One implication of our findings is that therapeutic inhibition of specific metalloproteases may help support NK-cell-based cancer therapy.