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      Influence of the Tumor Microenvironment on NK Cell Function in Solid Tumors

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          Natural killer (NK) cells are a population of innate lymphoid cells playing a pivotal role in host immune responses against infection and tumor growth. These cells have a powerful cytotoxic activity orchestrated by an intricate network of inhibitory and activating signals. The importance of NK cells in controlling tumor growth and in mediating a robust anti-metastatic effect has been demonstrated in different experimental mouse cancer models. Consistently, high density of tumor-infiltrating NK cells has been linked with a good prognosis in multiple human solid tumors. However, there are also tumors that appear to be refractory to NK cell-mediated killing for the presence of an immunosuppressive microenvironment affecting NK cell function. Immunotherapeutic strategies aimed at restoring and increasing the cytotoxic activity of NK cells in solid tumors, including the adoptive transfer of NK and CAR-NK cells, are currently employed in preclinical and clinical studies. In this review, we outline recent advances supporting the direct role of NK cells in controlling expansion of solid tumors and their prognostic value in human cancers. We summarize the mechanisms adopted by cancer cells and the tumor microenvironment to affect NK cell function, and finally we evaluate current strategies to augment the antitumor function of NK cells for the treatment of solid tumors.

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          Most cited references 155

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          Innate Immune Landscape in Early Lung Adenocarcinoma by Paired Single-Cell Analyses

          To guide the design of immunotherapy strategies for patients with early stage lung tumors, we developed a multiscale immune profiling strategy to map the immune landscape of early lung adenocarcinoma lesions to search for tumor-driven immune changes. Utilizing a barcoding method that allows a simultaneous single cell analysis of the tumor, non-involved lung and blood cells together with multiplex tissue imaging to assess spatial cell distribution, we provide a detailed immune cell atlas of early lung tumors. We show that stage I lung adenocarcinoma lesions already harbor significantly altered T cell and NK cell compartments. Moreover, we identified changes in tumor infiltrating myeloid cell (TIM) subsets that likely compromise anti-tumor T cell immunity. Paired single cell analyses thus offer valuable knowledge of tumor-driven immune changes, providing a powerful tool for the rational design of immune therapies. Comparing single tumor cells with adjacent normal tissue and blood from patients with lung adenocarcinoma charts early changes in tumor immunity and provides insights to guide immunotherapy design.
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            Quantitative metabolome profiling of colon and stomach cancer microenvironment by capillary electrophoresis time-of-flight mass spectrometry.

            Most cancer cells predominantly produce energy by glycolysis rather than oxidative phosphorylation via the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, even in the presence of an adequate oxygen supply (Warburg effect). However, little has been reported regarding the direct measurements of global metabolites in clinical tumor tissues. Here, we applied capillary electrophoresis time-of-flight mass spectrometry, which enables comprehensive and quantitative analysis of charged metabolites, to simultaneously measure their levels in tumor and grossly normal tissues obtained from 16 colon and 12 stomach cancer patients. Quantification of 94 metabolites in colon and 95 metabolites in stomach involved in glycolysis, the pentose phosphate pathway, the TCA and urea cycles, and amino acid and nucleotide metabolisms resulted in the identification of several cancer-specific metabolic traits. Extremely low glucose and high lactate and glycolytic intermediate concentrations were found in both colon and stomach tumor tissues, which indicated enhanced glycolysis and thus confirmed the Warburg effect. Significant accumulation of all amino acids except glutamine in the tumors implied autophagic degradation of proteins and active glutamine breakdown for energy production, i.e., glutaminolysis. In addition, significant organ-specific differences were found in the levels of TCA cycle intermediates, which reflected the dependency of each tissue on aerobic respiration according to oxygen availability. The results uncovered unexpectedly poor nutritional conditions in the actual tumor microenvironment and showed that capillary electrophoresis coupled to mass spectrometry-based metabolomics, which is capable of quantifying the levels of energy metabolites in tissues, could be a powerful tool for the development of novel anticancer agents that target cancer-specific metabolism.
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              Rae1 and H60 ligands of the NKG2D receptor stimulate tumour immunity.

              Natural killer (NK) cells attack many tumour cell lines, and are thought to have a critical role in anti-tumour immunity; however, the interaction between NK cells and tumour targets is poorly understood. The stimulatory lectin-like NKG2D receptor is expressed by NK cells, activated CD8+ T cells and by activated macrophages in mice. Several distinct cell-surface ligands that are related to class I major histocompatibility complex molecules have been identified, some of which are expressed at high levels by tumour cells but not by normal cells in adults. However, no direct evidence links the expression of these 'induced self' ligands with tumour cell rejection. Here we demonstrate that ectopic expression of the murine NKG2D ligands Rae1beta or H60 in several tumour cell lines results in potent rejection of the tumour cells by syngeneic mice. Rejection is mediated by NK cells and/or CD8+ T cells. The ligand-expressing tumour cells induce potent priming of cytotoxic T cells and sensitization of NK cells in vivo. Mice that are exposed to live or irradiated tumour cells expressing Rae1 or H60 are specifically immune to subsequent challenge with tumour cells that lack NKG2D ligands, suggesting application of the ligands in the design of tumour vaccines.

                Author and article information

                Front Immunol
                Front Immunol
                Front. Immunol.
                Frontiers in Immunology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                21 January 2020
                : 10
                1Paediatric Haematology/Oncology Department, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù , Rome, Italy
                2Department of Biology, University of Pisa , Pisa, Italy
                3Academic Department of Pediatrics (DPUO), Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù , Rome, Italy
                Author notes

                Edited by: Anahid Jewett, University of California, Los Angeles, United States

                Reviewed by: Robin Parihar, Baylor College of Medicine, United States; Robert J. Canter, University of California, Davis, United States

                *Correspondence: Loredana Cifaldi loredana.cifaldi@ 123456opbg.net

                This article was submitted to Cancer Immunity and Immunotherapy, a section of the journal Frontiers in Immunology

                †These authors have contributed equally to this work

                Copyright © 2020 Melaiu, Lucarini, Cifaldi and Fruci.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 210, Pages: 18, Words: 14533
                Funded by: Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro 10.13039/501100005010
                Funded by: Ministero della Salute 10.13039/501100003196
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