High expression of PD-L1 marks the poor prognosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC). However, the regulatory mechanism of PD-L1 remains elusive. We recently reported that cancer Forkhead box protein 3 (Cancer-FOXP3 or C-FOXP3) promoted immune evasion of PDAC by recruiting Treg cells into PDAC via upregulation of CCL5. In this study, we confirmed that PD-L1 was overexpressed in PDAC samples from two independent cohorts of patients with radical resection. Moreover, C-FOXP3 was colocalized and correlated with the expression of PD-L1 in tumor cells at the mRNA and protein levels, and this finding was confirmed by the The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) revealed that C-FOXP3 directly bound to the promoter region of PD-L1 in pancreatic cancer cells. Furthermore, overexpression of C-FOXP3 activated the luciferase reporter gene under the control of the PD-L1 promoter. However, mutation of the binding motif-a completely reversed the luciferase activity. In addition, C-FOXP3-induced upregulation of PD-L1 effectively inhibited the activity of CD8+ T cells. Based on our recent finding that the CCL-5 antibody achieved a better response to PDAC models with high C-FOXP3 levels, we further demonstrated that the PD-L1 antibody strengthened the antitumor effect of CCL-5 blockade in xenograft and orthotopic mouse models with high C-FOXP3 levels. In conclusion, C-FOXP3 directly activates PD-L1 and represents a core transcription factor that mediates the immune escape of PDAC. Combined blockade of PD-L1 and CCL-5 may provide an effective therapy for patients with PDAC that have high C-FOXP3 levels.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research