ZNF683 marks a CD8+ T cell population associated with anti-tumor immunity following anti-PD-1 therapy for Richter syndrome

Cancer Cell. 2023 Oct 9;41(10):1803-1816.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2023.08.013. Epub 2023 Sep 21.


Unlike many other hematologic malignancies, Richter syndrome (RS), an aggressive B cell lymphoma originating from indolent chronic lymphocytic leukemia, is responsive to PD-1 blockade. To discover the determinants of response, we analyze single-cell transcriptome data generated from 17 bone marrow samples longitudinally collected from 6 patients with RS. Response is associated with intermediate exhausted CD8 effector/effector memory T cells marked by high expression of the transcription factor ZNF683, determined to be evolving from stem-like memory cells and divergent from terminally exhausted cells. This signature overlaps with that of tumor-infiltrating populations from anti-PD-1 responsive solid tumors. ZNF683 is found to directly target key T cell genes (TCF7, LMO2, CD69) and impact pathways of T cell cytotoxicity and activation. Analysis of pre-treatment peripheral blood from 10 independent patients with RS treated with anti-PD-1, as well as patients with solid tumors treated with anti-PD-1, supports an association of ZNF683high T cells with response.

Keywords: Hobit; PD-1; Richter transformation; ZNF683; checkpoint blockade; chronic lymphocytic leukemia; immunotherapy; single-cell RNA sequencing; t cells; tox.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell* / pathology
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse* / drug therapy
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse* / genetics
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse* / pathology