T cells are critical effectors of cancer immunotherapies, but little is known about their gene expression programs in diffuse gliomas. Here, we leverage single-cell RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) to chart the gene expression and clonal landscape of tumor-infiltrating T cells across 31 patients with isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) wild-type glioblastoma and IDH mutant glioma. We identify potential effectors of anti-tumor immunity in subsets of T cells that co-express cytotoxic programs and several natural killer (NK) cell genes. Analysis of clonally expanded tumor-infiltrating T cells further identifies the NK gene KLRB1 (encoding CD161) as a candidate inhibitory receptor. Accordingly, genetic inactivation of KLRB1 or antibody-mediated CD161 blockade enhances T cell-mediated killing of glioma cells in vitro and their anti-tumor function in vivo. KLRB1 and its associated transcriptional program are also expressed by substantial T cell populations in other human cancers. Our work provides an atlas of T cells in gliomas and highlights CD161 and other NK cell receptors as immunotherapy targets.
Keywords: CD161; IDH-mutant gliomas; T cells; glioblastoma; single-cell RNA-seq.
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