Acquired immune evasion is one of the mechanisms that contributes to the dismal prognosis of cancer. Recently, we observed that different γδ T cell subsets as well as CD8+ αβ T cells infiltrate the pancreatic tissue. Interestingly, the abundance of γδ T cells was reported to have a positive prognostic impact on survival of cancer patients. Since γδ T cells utilize TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) for killing of tumor cells in addition to granzyme B and perforin, we investigated the role of the TRAIL-/TRAIL-R system in γδ T cell-cytotoxicity toward pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and other cancer cells. Coculture of the different cancer cells with γδ T cells resulted in a moderate lysis of tumor cells. The lysis of PDAC Colo357 cells was independent of TRAIL as it was not inhibited by the addition of neutralizing anti-TRAIL antibodies or TRAIL-R2-Fc fusion protein. In accordance, knockdown (KD) of death receptors TRAIL-R1 or TRAIL-R2 in Colo357 cells had no effect on γδ T cell-mediated cytotoxicity. However, KD of decoy receptor TRAIL-R4, which robustly enhanced TRAIL-induced apoptosis, interestingly, almost completely abolished the γδ T cell-mediated lysis of these tumor cells. This effect was associated with a reduced secretion of granzyme B by γδ T cells and enhanced PGE2 production as a result of increased expression level of synthetase cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 by TRAIL-R4-KD cells. In contrast, knockin of TRAIL-R4 decreased COX-2 expression. Importantly, reduced release of granzyme B by γδ T cells cocultured with TRAIL-R4-KD cells was partially reverted by bispecific antibody [HER2xCD3] and led in consequence to enhanced lysis of tumor cells. Likewise, inhibition of COX-1 and/or COX-2 partially enhanced γδ T cell-mediated lysis of TRAIL-R4-KD cells. The combination of bispecific antibody and COX-inhibitor completely restored the lysis of TRAIL-R4-KD cells by γδ T cells. In conclusion, we uncovered an unexpected novel role of TRAIL-R4 in tumor cells. In contrast to its known pro-tumoral, anti-apoptotic function, TRAIL-R4 augments the anti-tumoral cytotoxic activity of γδ T cells.
Keywords: COX (cyclooxygenase); PGE2; TRAIL; TRAIL-receptor 4; bispecific Ab; granzyme B; pancreatic cancer; γδ T cell-cytotoxicity.