Immune escape is an important reason why the immune system cannot control tumor growth, but how escape variants emerge during immunotherapy remains poorly understood. Here, we identify a new mechanism of tumor immune escape using an in vivo selection strategy. We generated a highly immune-resistant cancer cell line (P3) by subjecting a susceptible cancer cell line (P0/TC-1) to multiple rounds of in vivo immune selection. Microarray analysis of P0 and P3 revealed that vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) is up-regulated in the P3-resistant variant. Retroviral transfer of VCAM-1 into P0 significantly increased its resistance against a vaccine-induced immune response. Analysis of tumors showed a dramatic decrease in the number of tumor-infiltrating cluster of differentiation 8+ (CD8+) T cells in the tumors expressing VCAM-1. In vitro transwell migration assays showed that VCAM-1 can promote the migration of CD8+ T cells through its interaction with the α4β1 integrin. Site-directed mutagenesis of VCAM-1 at amino acid residues required for interaction with α4β1 integrin completely abolished the immune resistance conferred by VCAM-1 in vivo. Surface staining showed that most renal cell carcinomas (RCC) express VCAM-1, whereas an RCC that responded to vaccination was VCAM-1 negative. These data provide evidence that tumor expression of VCAM-1 represents a new mechanism of immune evasion and has important implications for the development of immunotherapy for human RCC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research