Cancers often evade immune surveillance by adopting peripheral tissue- tolerance mechanisms, such as the expression of programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1), the inhibition of which results in potent antitumor immunity. Here, we show that cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5), a serine-threonine kinase that is highly active in postmitotic neurons and in many cancers, allows medulloblastoma (MB) to evade immune elimination. Interferon-γ (IFN-γ)-induced PD-L1 up-regulation on MB requires Cdk5, and disruption of Cdk5 expression in a mouse model of MB results in potent CD4(+) T cell-mediated tumor rejection. Loss of Cdk5 results in persistent expression of the PD-L1 transcriptional repressors, the interferon regulatory factors IRF2 and IRF2BP2, which likely leads to reduced PD-L1 expression on tumors. Our finding highlights a central role for Cdk5 in immune checkpoint regulation by tumor cells.
Copyright © 2016, American Association for the Advancement of Science.