Background: Mammalian microRNAs (miR) regulate the expression of genes relevant for the development of adaptive and innate immunity against cancer. Since T cell dysfunction has previously been reported in patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC; clear cell type), we aimed to analyze these immune cells for genetic and protein differences when compared to normal donor T cells freshly after isolation and 35 days after in vitro stimulation (IVS) with HLA-matched RCC tumor cells. Methods: We investigated gene expression profiles of tumor-reactive CD8+ T cells obtained from RCC patient and compared with their HLA-matched healthy sibling donors using a microarray approach. In addition, miRNAs analysis was performed in a validation cohort of peripheral blood CD8+ T cells from 25 RCC patients compared to 15 healthy volunteers. Results: We observed that CD8+ T cells from RCC patients expressed reduced levels of anti-apoptotic and proliferation-associated gene products when compared with normal donor T cells both pre- and post-IVS. In particular, JAK3 and MCL-1 were down-regulated in patient CD8+ T cells versus their normal counterparts, likely due to defective suppressor activity of miR-29b and miR-198 in RCC CD8+ T cells. Indeed, specific inhibition of miR-29b or miR-198 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) isolated from RCC patients, resulted in the up-regulation of JAK3 and MCL-1 proteins and significant improvement of cell survival in vitro. Conclusions: Our results suggest that miR-29b and miR-198 dysregulation in RCC patient CD8+ T cells is associated with dysfunctional immunity and foreshadow the development of miR-targeted therapeutics to correct such T cell defects in vivo.
Gigante, M., Pontrelli, P., Herr, W., Gigante, M., D’Avenia, M., Zaza, G., … Ranieri, E. (2016). miR-29b and miR-198 overexpression in CD8+ T cells of renal cell carcinoma patients down-modulates JAK3 and MCL-1 leading to immune dysfunction. Journal of Translational Medicine, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-016-0841-9