Reprogramming Cancer into Antigen-Presenting Cells as a Novel Immunotherapy

Cancer Discov. 2023 May 4;13(5):1164-1185. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-21-0502.


Therapeutic cancer vaccination seeks to elicit activation of tumor-reactive T cells capable of recognizing tumor-associated antigens (TAA) and eradicating malignant cells. Here, we present a cancer vaccination approach utilizing myeloid-lineage reprogramming to directly convert cancer cells into tumor-reprogrammed antigen-presenting cells (TR-APC). Using syngeneic murine leukemia models, we demonstrate that TR-APCs acquire both myeloid phenotype and function, process and present endogenous TAAs, and potently stimulate TAA-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. In vivo TR-APC induction elicits clonal expansion of cancer-specific T cells, establishes cancer-specific immune memory, and ultimately promotes leukemia eradication. We further show that both hematologic cancers and solid tumors, including sarcomas and carcinomas, are amenable to myeloid-lineage reprogramming into TR-APCs. Finally, we demonstrate the clinical applicability of this approach by generating TR-APCs from primary clinical specimens and stimulating autologous patient-derived T cells. Thus, TR-APCs represent a cancer vaccination therapeutic strategy with broad implications for clinical immuno-oncology.

Significance: Despite recent advances, the clinical benefit provided by cancer vaccination remains limited. We present a cancer vaccination approach leveraging myeloid-lineage reprogramming of cancer cells into APCs, which subsequently activate anticancer immunity through presentation of self-derived cancer antigens. Both hematologic and solid malignancies derive significant therapeutic benefit from reprogramming-based immunotherapy. This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 1027.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cancer Vaccines*
  • Immunotherapy
  • Leukemia*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms* / therapy


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cancer Vaccines