Dynamic Patterns of Clonal Evolution in Tumor Vasculature Underlie Alterations in Lymphocyte-Endothelial Recognition to Foster Tumor Immune Escape

Cancer Res. 2016 Mar 15;76(6):1348-53. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-15-1150. Epub 2015 Dec 30.


Although tumor blood vessels have been a major therapeutic target for cancer chemotherapy, little is known regarding the stepwise development of the tumor microenvironment. Here, we use a multicolor Cre-dependent marker system to trace clonality within the tumor microenvironment to show that tumor blood vessels follow a pattern of dynamic clonal evolution. In an advanced melanoma tumor microenvironment, the vast majority of tumor vasculature clones are derived from a common precursor. Quantitative lineage analysis reveals founder clones diminish in frequency and are replaced by subclones as tumors evolve. These tumor-specific blood vessels are characterized by a developmental switch to a more invasive and immunologically silent phenotype. Gene expression profiling and pathway analysis reveals selection for traits promoting upregulation of alternative angiogenic programs such as unregulated HGF-MET signaling and enhanced autocrine signaling through VEGF and PDGF. Furthermore, we show a developmental switch in the expression of functionally significant primary lymphocyte adhesion molecules on tumor endothelium, such as the loss in expression of the mucosal addressin MAdCAM-1, whose counter receptor a4β7 on lymphocytes controls lymphocyte homing. Changes in adhesive properties on tumor endothelial subclones are accompanied by decreases in expression of lymphocyte chemokines CXCL16, CXCL13, CXCL12, CXCL9, CXCL10, and CCL19. These evolutionary patterns in the expressed genetic program within tumor endothelium will have both a quantitative and functional impact on lymphocyte distribution that may well influence tumor immune function and underlie escape mechanisms from current antiangiogenic pharmacotherapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chemokine CCL19 / metabolism
  • Chemokines, CXC / metabolism
  • Clonal Evolution / physiology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mucoproteins
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Tumor Escape / physiology*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / physiology
  • Up-Regulation / physiology


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Chemokine CCL19
  • Chemokines, CXC
  • HGF protein, mouse
  • Madcam1 protein, mouse
  • Mucoproteins
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met