CD8 T cells play essential roles in anti-tumor immune responses. Here, we performed genome-scale CRISPR screens in CD8 T cells directly under cancer immunotherapy settings and identified regulators of tumor infiltration and degranulation. The in vivo screen robustly re-identified canonical immunotherapy targets such as PD-1 and Tim-3, along with genes that have not been characterized in T cells. The infiltration and degranulation screens converged on an RNA helicase Dhx37. Dhx37 knockout enhanced the efficacy of antigen-specific CD8 T cells against triple-negative breast cancer in vivo. Immunological characterization in mouse and human CD8 T cells revealed that DHX37 suppresses effector functions, cytokine production, and T cell activation. Transcriptomic profiling and biochemical interrogation revealed a role for DHX37 in modulating NF-κB. These data demonstrate high-throughput in vivo genetic screens for immunotherapy target discovery and establishes DHX37 as a functional regulator of CD8 T cells.
Keywords: CD8 T cell; DHX37; T cell effector function; adoptive transfer; breast cancer; immunotherapy; in vivo CRISPR screen; lentiCRISPR; target discovery; tumor infiltration.
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