PDL1 Regulation by p53 via miR-34

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Nov 17;108(1):djv303. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv303. Print 2016 Jan.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma of Lung
  • Animals
  • B7-H1 Antigen / metabolism*
  • CD8 Antigens / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / radiotherapy
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / radiation effects
  • Liposomes
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs / administration & dosage
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • CD274 protein, human
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Liposomes
  • MIRN34a microRNA, mouse
  • MicroRNAs
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53