Inhibition of the av integrin-TGF-b axis improves natural killer cell function against glioblastoma stem cells

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
H. ShaimKaty Rezvani


Glioblastoma, the most aggressive brain cancer, often recurs because glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) are resistant to all standard therapies. Here, we show that patient-derived GSCs, but not normal astrocytes, are highly sensitive to lysis by healthy allogeneic natural killer (NK) cells in vitro. In contrast, single cell analysis of autologous, tissue infiltrating NK cells isolated from surgical samples of high-grade glioblastoma patient tumors using mass cytometry and single cell RNA sequencing revealed an abnormal phenotype associated with impaired lytic function compared with peripheral blood NK cells from GBM patients or healthy donors. This immunosuppression was attributed to an integrin-TGF-{beta} mechanism, activated by direct cell-cell contact between GSCs and NK cells. Treatment of GSC-engrafted mice with allogeneic NK cells in combination with inhibitors of integrin or TGF-{beta} signaling, or with TGF-{beta} receptor 2 gene-edited NK cells prevented GSC-induced NK cell dysfunction and tumor growth. Collectively, our findings reveal a novel mechanism of NK cell immune evasion by GSCs and implicate the integrin-TGF-{beta} axis as a useful therapeutic target to eliminate GSCs in this devastating tumor.

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