Immunotherapy with engineered bacteria by targeting the STING pathway for anti-tumor immunity

Nat Commun. 2020 Jun 1;11(1):2739. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-16602-0.


Synthetic biology is a powerful tool to create therapeutics which can be rationally designed to enable unique and combinatorial functionalities. Here we utilize non-pathogenic E coli Nissle as a versatile platform for the development of a living biotherapeutic for the treatment of cancer. The engineered bacterial strain, referred to as SYNB1891, targets STING-activation to phagocytic antigen-presenting cells (APCs) in the tumor and activates complementary innate immune pathways. SYNB1891 treatment results in efficacious antitumor immunity with the formation of immunological memory in murine tumor models and robust activation of human APCs. SYNB1891 is designed to meet manufacturability and regulatory requirements with built in biocontainment features which do not compromise its efficacy. This work provides a roadmap for the development of future therapeutics and demonstrates the transformative potential of synthetic biology for the treatment of human disease when drug development criteria are incorporated into the design process for a living medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / immunology*
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Genetic Engineering / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Interferon Type I / immunology
  • Interferon Type I / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / immunology*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Phagocytes / immunology
  • Phagocytes / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • Synthetic Biology / methods
  • Synthetic Biology / trends


  • Interferon Type I
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Sting1 protein, mouse