Targeting HIF-1 alpha transcriptional activity drives cytotoxic immune effector cells into melanoma and improves combination immunotherapy

Audrey Lequeux, Muhammad Zaeem Noman, Malina Xiao, Kris Van Moer, Meriem Hasmim, Alice Benoit, Manon Bosseler, Elodie Viry, Tsolere Arakelian, Guy Berchem, Salem Chouaib, Bassam Janji*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Hypoxia is a key factor responsible for the failure of therapeutic response in most solid tumors and promotes the acquisition of tumor resistance to various antitumor immune effectors. Reshaping the hypoxic immune suppressive tumor microenvironment to improve cancer immunotherapy is still a relevant challenge. We investigated the impact of inhibiting HIF-1α transcriptional activity on cytotoxic immune cell infiltration into B16-F10 melanoma. We showed that tumors expressing a deleted form of HIF-1α displayed increased levels of NK and CD8+ effector T cells in the tumor microenvironment, which was associated with high levels of CCL2 and CCL5 chemokines. We showed that combining acriflavine, reported as a pharmacological agent preventing HIF-1α/HIF-1β dimerization, dramatically improved the benefit of cancer immunotherapy based on TRP-2 peptide vaccination and anti-PD-1 blocking antibody. In melanoma patients, we revealed that tumors exhibiting high CCL5 are less hypoxic, and displayed high NK, CD3+, CD4+ and CD8+ T cell markers than those having low CCL5. In addition, melanoma patients with high CCL5 in their tumors survive better than those having low CCL5. This study provides the pre-clinical proof of concept for a novel triple combination strategy including blocking HIF-1α transcription activity along vaccination and PD-1 blocking immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4725-4735
Number of pages11
JournalOncogene
Volume40
Issue number28
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2021

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