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Population dynamics of tumor-specific CD8 T cell differentiation from plastic to fixed dysfunctional states

Philip, M., Pilkinton, M., Ramesh, R., McDonnell, W.J., Gangula, R.D., Camara, S., Chopra, A., Schietinger, A. and Mallal, S.A. (2018) Population dynamics of tumor-specific CD8 T cell differentiation from plastic to fixed dysfunctional states. Journal of immunology, 200 (Supp. 1).

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Tumor-specific CD8 T cells (TST) encountering cognate antigen in tumors differentiate to a dysfunctional state characterized by expression of multiple inhibitory receptors and failure to make effector cytokines. We demonstrated that TST differentiate through two discrete chromatin states; TST were initially in a plastic chromatin state and could be functionally rescued but then transitioned to a fixed chromatin state resistant to therapeutic reprogramming. T cells harboring these discrete chromatin states could be identified with distinct, novel membrane protein expression profiles, permitting prospective identification of reprogrammable tumor-specific T cells from bulk tumor-infiltrating T cell populations. Importantly, human tumor-infiltrating PD1-high CD8 T cells were in a similar chromatin accessibility state as murine fixed dysfunctional T cells. Based on our studies, two models could describe TST differentiation: (i) TST progress en-masse from the plastic to fixed state, potentially through a transitional state or (ii) individual TST within a population exist in either the plastic or fixed dysfunctional state; initially, most TST are in the plastic state, however over time plastic T cells fail to proliferate or die while the fixed dysfunctional TST preferentially proliferate and/or survive. To test these models, we carried out single-cell RNA-Sequencing on TST at various time points during tumor progression. Determining the population dynamics of TST differentiation through dysfunctional states in tumors could inform our strategies for TST rescue, for example, by selecting rare plastic TST from bulk populations versus novel strategies to reprogram the epigenome of fixed dysfunctional TST.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases
Publisher: The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.
Copyright: © 2018 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.
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