Blocking hypoxia-induced autophagy in tumors restores cytotoxic T-cell activity and promotes regression

Muhammad Zaeem Noman, Bassam Janji, Bozena Kaminska, Kris Van Moer, Sandrine Pierson, Piotr Przanowski, Stéphanie Buart, Guy Berchem, Pedro Romero, Fathia Mami-Chouaib, Salem Chouaib*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

221 Citations (Scopus)


The relationship between hypoxic stress, autophagy, and specific cell-mediated cytotoxicity remains unknown. This study shows that hypoxia-induced resistance of lung tumor to cytolytic T lymphocyte (CTL)-mediated lysis is associated with autophagy induction in target cells. In turn, this correlates with STAT3 phosphorylation on tyrosine 705 residue (pSTAT3) and HIF-1a accumulation. Inhibition of autophagy by siRNA targeting of either beclin1 or Atg5 resulted in impairment of pSTAT3 and restoration of hypoxic tumor cell susceptibility to CTL-mediated lysis. Furthermore, inhibition of pSTAT3 in hypoxic Atg5 or beclin1-targeted tumor cells was found to be associated with the inhibition Src kinase (pSrc). Autophagy-induced pSTAT3 and pSrc regulation seemed to involve the ubiquitin proteasome system and p62/SQSTM1. In vivo experiments using B16-F10 melanoma tumor cells indicated that depletion of beclin1 resulted in an inhibition of B16-F10 tumor growth and increased tumor apoptosis. Moreover, in vivo inhibition of autophagy by hydroxychloroquine in B16-F10 tumor-bearing mice and mice vaccinated with tyrosinase-related protein-2 peptide dramatically increased tumor growth inhibition. Collectively, this study establishes a novel functional link between hypoxia-induced autophagy and the regulation of antigen-specific T-cell lysis and points to a major role of autophagy in the control of in vivo tumor growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5976-5986
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Research
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2011


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