Expression and Function of Ligands for Natural Killer Cell Receptors on Triple-negative Breast Cancer Cells




Marrufo, Armando M.


0000-0002-5851-5539 (Marrufo, Armando M.)

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Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) accounts for 20 percent of all breast cancer cases and is known to be the most invasive form of breast cancer. TNBC's absence of estrogen, progesterone, and human epidermal growth factor-2 receptors makes utilizing hormonal treatments ineffective in suppressing tumor growth. TNBC is associated with poorer prognosis and higher incidences of relapse. Therefore, natural killer cell-mediated immunotherapy shows potential as a treatment option for TNBC. Natural killer cells (NK) are innate lymphoid cells that serves its role in the immune system to eradicate infected and tumor cells. NK cell function is regulated through its receptors interacting with activating and inhibitory ligands on target cells. Lectin-like Transcript-1 (LLT1, CLEC2D) is a ligand that interacts with NKRP1A (CD161) and inhibits NK cell activation. Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen (PCNA) is a ligand that interacts with NKp44 and inhibits NK cell activation. We have identified the expression and function of LLT1 and PCNA on TNBC cell lines by flow cytometry, western blot, immunofluorescent microscopy, and chromium-release assay. Our results have demonstrated a higher expression of LLT1 and PCNA on TNBCs than non-tumorigenic breast cell line MCF10A. We have shown that blocking LLT1 interaction with NKRP1A with antibodies and gene knockdown of LLT1, respectively, on TNBCs have increased lysis of TNBCs by primary NK cells. We have also shown that blocking PCNA interaction with NKp44 with antibodies have enhanced killing of TNBCs by NK cells. LLT1 and PCNA expressed on TNBCs sends an inhibitory signal to the NK cell thus serving its role for TNBCs to evade immunosurveillance. Blocking LLT1-NKRP1A or PCNA-NKp44 with antibodies enhances lysis by NK cells and may open a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for patients diagnosed with TNBC.