Cancer immunology research

Type I cytokines synergize with oncogene inhibition to induce tumor growth arrest.

PMID 25358764


Both targeted inhibition of oncogenic driver mutations and immune-based therapies show efficacy in treatment of patients with metastatic cancer, but responses can be either short lived or incompletely effective. Oncogene inhibition can augment the efficacy of immune-based therapy, but mechanisms by which these two interventions might cooperate are incompletely resolved. Using a novel transplantable BRAF(V600E)-mutant murine melanoma model (SB-3123), we explored potential mechanisms of synergy between the selective BRAF(V600E) inhibitor vemurafenib and adoptive cell transfer (ACT)-based immunotherapy. We found that vemurafenib cooperated with ACT to delay melanoma progression without significantly affecting tumor infiltration or effector function of endogenous or adoptively transferred CD8(+) T cells, as previously observed. Instead, we found that the T-cell cytokines IFNγ and TNFα synergized with vemurafenib to induce cell-cycle arrest of tumor cells in vitro. This combinatorial effect was recapitulated in human melanoma-derived cell lines and was restricted to cancers bearing a BRAF(V600E) mutation. Molecular profiling of treated SB-3123 indicated that the provision of vemurafenib promoted the sensitization of SB-3123 to the antiproliferative effects of T-cell effector cytokines. The unexpected finding that immune cytokines synergize with oncogene inhibitors to induce growth arrest has major implications for understanding cancer biology at the intersection of oncogenic and immune signaling and provides a basis for design of combinatorial therapeutic approaches for patients with metastatic cancer.