Generation of Genetically Engineered Mouse Lung Organoid Models for Squamous Cell Lung Cancers Allows for the Study of Combinatorial Immunotherapy

Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Jul 1;26(13):3431-3442. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-1627. Epub 2020 Mar 24.


Purpose: Lung squamous cell carcinoma (LSCC) is a deadly disease for which only a subset of patients responds to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapy. Therefore, preclinical mouse models that recapitulate the complex genetic profile found in patients are urgently needed.

Experimental design: We used CRISPR genome editing to delete multiple tumor suppressors in lung organoids derived from Cre-dependent SOX2 knock-in mice. We investigated both the therapeutic efficacy and immunologic effects accompanying combination PD-1 blockade and WEE1 inhibition in both mouse models and LSCC patient-derived cell lines.

Results: We show that multiplex gene editing of mouse lung organoids using the CRISPR-Cas9 system allows for efficient and rapid means to generate LSCCs that closely mimic the human disease at the genomic and phenotypic level. Using this genetically defined mouse model and three-dimensional tumoroid culture system, we show that WEE1 inhibition induces DNA damage that primes the endogenous type I IFN and antigen presentation system in primary LSCC tumor cells. These events promote cytotoxic T-cell-mediated clearance of tumor cells and reduce the accumulation of tumor-infiltrating neutrophils. Beneficial immunologic features of WEE1 inhibition are further enhanced by the addition of anti-PD-1 therapy.

Conclusions: We developed a mouse model system to investigate a novel combinatory approach that illuminates a clinical path hypothesis for combining ICB with DNA damage-inducing therapies in the treatment of LSCC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Gene Editing
  • Gene Expression
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunotherapy
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / immunology
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic*
  • Organoids / drug effects*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Biomarkers
  • Biomarkers, Tumor