The thymus-specific serine protease TSSP/PRSS16 is crucial for the antitumoral role of CD4(+) T cells

Cell Rep. 2015 Jan 6;10(1):39-46. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.12.009. Epub 2014 Dec 24.


In cancer, immune cells can play conflicting roles, either protective, by elimination of tumor cells during immune surveillance, or detrimental, by promoting carcinogenesis during inflammation. We report here that the thymus-specific serine protease (TSSP), which is involved in CD4(+) T cell maturation in the thymus, exerts a tumor suppressor activity. Mice genetically deficient for TSSP are highly prone to spontaneous cancer development. The absence of TSSP also increases the rate of induced colitis-associated colorectal (CAC) tumor formation, through exacerbated colon inflammation. Adoptive transfer of T cells in various combinations (CD4(+) and CD8(+) from wild-type and/or knockout mice) into T cell-deficient mice showed that the TSSP-deficient CD4(+) T cell compartment promotes tumor development, associated with high levels of the cytokine IL-17A. Inhibition of IL-17A during CAC tumor formation prevents the increased carcinogenesis and colic immune disequilibrium observed in TSSP-deficient mice. Therefore, our data demonstrate that antitumoral immune surveillance requires thymic TSSP-driven production of CD4(+) T cells contributing to inflammatory balance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Colitis / genetics*
  • Colitis / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Serine Endopeptidases / biosynthesis
  • Serine Endopeptidases / genetics*
  • Thymus Gland / immunology
  • Thymus Gland / metabolism


  • PRSS16 protein, human
  • Serine Endopeptidases