Natural killer (NK) cells are effector lymphocytes with pivotal roles in the resistance against various tumors; dysfunction of NK cells often results in advanced tumor progression. Tumors develop in three stages comprising initiation, promotion, and progression, but little is known about the interrelationships between NK cells and tumor cells at different stages of tumor development. Here, we demonstrated that NK cells prevented tumor initiation potently but did not prevent tumor promotion or tumor progression in Kras-driven lung cancer. Moreover, loss of the antitumor effect in NK cells was closely associated with their dysfunctional state during tumor promotion and progression. Mechanistically, aberrant fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase (FBP1) expression in NK cells elicited their dysfunction by inhibiting glycolysis and impairing viability. Thus, our results show dynamic alterations of NK cells during tumor development and uncover a novel mechanism involved in NK cell dysfunction, suggesting potential directions for NK cell-based cancer immunotherapy involving FBP1 targeting.
Keywords: FBP1; NK cell dysfunction; glycolysis; lung cancer.
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