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 BRAFV600E-mutant murine melanoma model (SB-3123), we explore potential mechanisms of synergy between the selective BRAFV600E 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 IFN-γ and TNF-α 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 BRAFV600E-mutation. Molecular profiling of treated SB-3123 indicated that the provision of vemurafenib promoted the sensitization of SB-3123 to the anti-proliferative effects of T cell effector cytokines. The unexpected finding that immune cytokines synergize with oncogene inhibitors to induce growth arrest have 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.
- Received June 30, 2014.
- Revision received October 2, 2014.
- Accepted October 14, 2014.
- Copyright © 2014, American Association for Cancer Research.