Foxp3+ T-regulatory (Treg) cells are known to suppress protective host immune responses to a wide variety of solid tumors, but their therapeutic targeting is largely restricted to their transient depletion or "secondary" modulation, e.g. using anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibody. Our ongoing studies of the post-translational modifications that regulate Foxp3 demonstrated that the histone/protein acetyltransferase, Tip60, plays a dominant role in promoting acetylation, dimerization and function in Treg cells. We now show that the ubiquitin-specific protease, Usp7, controls Treg function largely by stabilizing the expression and promoting the multimerization of Tip60 and Foxp3. Genetic or pharmacologic targeting of Usp7 impairs Foxp3+ Treg suppressive functions, while conventional T cell responses remain intact. As a result, pharmacologic inhibitors of Usp7 can limit tumor growth in immunocompetent mice, and promote the efficacy of antitumor vaccines and immune checkpoint therapy with anti-PD1 monoclonal antibody in murine models. Hence, pharmacologic therapy with Usp7 inhibitors may have an important role in future cancer immunotherapy.
Keywords: Anti-tumor immunity; Deubiquitination; Immuno-oncology; T-regulatory cells.
Copyright Â© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.