Tumor cells counteract innate and adaptive antitumor immune responses by recruiting regulatory T cells (Treg) and innate myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC), which facilitate immune escape and metastatic dissemination. Here we report a role in these recruitment processes for CD81, a member of the tetraspanin family of proteins that have been implicated previously in cancer progression. We found that genetic deficiency in CD81 reduced tumor growth and metastasis in two genetic mouse backgrounds and multiple tumor models. Mechanistic investigations revealed that CD81 was not required for normal development of Treg and MDSC but was essential for immunosuppressive functions. Notably, adoptive transfer of wild-type Treg into CD81-deficient mice was sufficient to promote tumor growth and metastasis. Our findings suggested that CD81 modulates adaptive and innate immune responses, warranting further investigation of CD81 in immunomodulation in cancer and its progression.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.