Background: Although clinical studies have shown promise for targeting PD1/PDL1 signaling in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the regulation of PDL1 expression is poorly understood. Here, we show that PDL1 is regulated by p53 via miR-34.
Methods: p53 wild-type and p53-deficient cell lines (p53(-/-) and p53(+/+) HCT116, p53-inducible H1299, and p53-knockdown H460) were used to determine if p53 regulates PDL1 via miR-34. PDL1 and miR-34a expression were analyzed in samples from patients with NSCLC and mutated p53 vs wild-type p53 tumors from The Cancer Genome Atlas for Lung Adenocarcinoma (TCGA LUAD). We confirmed that PDL1 is a direct target of miR-34 with western blotting and luciferase assays and used a p53(R172HΔ)g/+K-ras(LA1/+) syngeneic mouse model (n = 12) to deliver miR-34a-loaded liposomes (MRX34) plus radiotherapy (XRT) and assessed PDL1 expression and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). A two-sided t test was applied to compare the mean between different treatments.
Results: We found that p53 regulates PDL1 via miR-34, which directly binds to the PDL1 3' untranslated region in models of NSCLC (fold-change luciferase activity to control group, mean for miR-34a = 0.50, SD = 0.2, P < .001; mean for miR-34b = 0.52, SD = 0.2, P = .006; and mean for miR-34c = 0.59, SD = 0.14, and P = .006). Therapeutic delivery of MRX34, currently the subject of a phase I clinical trial, promoted TILs (mean of CD8 expression percentage of control group = 22.5%, SD = 1.9%; mean of CD8 expression percentage of MRX34 = 30.1%, SD = 3.7%, P = .016, n = 4) and reduced CD8(+)PD1(+) cells in vivo (mean of CD8/PD1 expression percentage of control group = 40.2%, SD = 6.2%; mean of CD8/PD1 expression percentage of MRX34 = 20.3%, SD = 5.1%, P = .001, n = 4). Further, MRX34 plus XRT increased CD8(+) cell numbers more than either therapy alone (mean of CD8 expression percentage of MRX34 plus XRT to control group = 44.2%, SD = 8.7%, P = .004, n = 4). Finally, miR-34a delivery reduced the numbers of radiation-induced macrophages (mean of F4-80 expression percentage of control group = 52.4%, SD = 1.7%; mean of F4-80 expression percentage of MRX34 = 40.1%, SD = 3.5%, P = .008, n = 4) and T-regulatory cells.
Conclusions: We identified a novel mechanism by which tumor immune evasion is regulated by p53/miR-34/PDL1 axis. Our results suggest that delivery of miRNAs with standard therapies, such as XRT, may represent a novel therapeutic approach for lung cancer.
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