The B7 family member, B7H6, is a ligand for the natural killer cell receptor NKp30. B7H6 is hardly expressed on normal tissues, but undergoes upregulation on different types of tumors, implicating it as an attractive target for cancer immunotherapy. The molecular mechanisms that control B7H6 expression are poorly understood. We report that in contrast to other NK cell ligands, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress upregulates B7H6 mRNA levels and surface expression. B7H6 induction by ER stress requires protein kinase R-like ER kinase (PERK), one of the three canonical sensors of the unfolded protein response. PERK phosphorylates eIF2 alpha, which regulates protein synthesis and gene expression. Because eIF2 alpha is phosphorylated by several kinases following different stress conditions, the program downstream to eIF2 alpha phosphorylation is called the integrated stress response (ISR). Several drugs were reported to promote the ISR. Nelfinavir and lopinavir, two clinically approved HIV protease inhibitors, promote eIF2 alpha phosphorylation by different mechanisms. We show that nelfinavir and lopinavir sustainably instigate B7H6 expression at their pharmacologically relevant concentrations. As such, ER stress and ISR conditions sensitize melanoma targets to CAR-T cells directed against B7H6. Our study highlights a novel mechanism to induce B7H6 expression and suggests a pharmacological approach to improve B7H6-directed immunotherapy. Key messages
B7H6 is induced by ER stress in a PERK-dependent mechanism. Induction of B7H6 is obtained pharmacologically by HIV protease inhibitors. Exposure of tumor cells to the HIV protease inhibitor nelfinavir improves the recognition by B7H6-directed CAR-T.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Drug Discovery