To understand global effector mechanisms of CTL therapy, we performed microarray gene expression analysis in a murine model using pmel-1 T-cell receptor (TCR) transgenic T cells as effectors and B16 melanoma cells as targets. In addition to upregulation of genes related to antigen presentation and the MHC class I pathway, and cytotoxic effector molecules, cell-cycle–promoting genes were downregulated in the tumor on days 3 and 5 after CTL transfer. To investigate the impact of CTL therapy on the cell cycle of tumor cells in situ, we generated B16 cells expressing a fluorescent ubiquitination-based cell-cycle indicator (B16-fucci) and performed CTL therapy in mice bearing B16-fucci tumors. Three days after CTL transfer, we observed diffuse infiltration of CTLs into the tumor with a large number of tumor cells arrested at the G1 phase of the cell cycle, and the presence of spotty apoptotic or necrotic areas. Thus, tumor growth suppression was largely dependent on G1 cell-cycle arrest rather than killing by CTLs. Neutralizing antibody to IFNγ prevented both tumor growth inhibition and G1 arrest. The mechanism of G1 arrest involved the downregulation of S-phase kinase-associated protein 2 (Skp2) and the accumulation of its target cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27 in the B16-fucci tumor cells. Because tumor-infiltrating CTLs are far fewer in number than the tumor cells, we propose that CTLs predominantly regulate tumor growth via IFNγ-mediated profound cytostatic effects rather than via cytotoxicity. This dominance of G1 arrest over other mechanisms may be widespread but not universal because IFNγ sensitivity varied among tumors. Cancer Immunol Res; 1–11. ©2014 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Immunology Research Online (http://cancerimmunolres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received May 16, 2014.
- Revision received July 22, 2014.
- Accepted August 5, 2014.
- ©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.