Tumor cell-intrinsic SETD2 inactivation sensitizes cancer cells to immune checkpoint blockade through the NR2F1-STAT1 pathway

January, 01, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Cancer immunotherapies can induce durable tumor regression, but most patients do not respond. SETD2 mutation has been linked to the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) immunotherapy. The functional importance of the SETD2 inactivation and how to modulate immunotherapy response remains unclear.


To explore the function of SETD2 in immunotherapy, knockout and subsequent functional experiments were conducted. Bulk RNA-seq, ATAC-seq, Chip-seq and single-cell RNA-seq were performed to dissect the mechanism and explore the immune microenvironment of mouse tumor. Flow cytometry was used to assess cell surface antigen and intratumoral T cell levels.


We comprehensively determine the effect of SETD2 inactivation in ICIs therapy and elucidate the mechanistic impact on tumor immunity. Murine syngeneic tumors harboring Setd2 inactivation are sensitive to ICIs. By bulk and single-cell RNA-seq, we further reveal that SETD2 inactivation reprograms intratumoral immune cells and inflames the tumor microenvironment, which is characterized by high infiltration of T cells and enhanced antigen presentation to activate CD8+ T cell-mediated killing. Mechanistically, via an integrated multiomics analysis using ATAC-seq, ChIP-seq and RNA-seq, we demonstrate that SETD2 inactivation reduces NR2F1 transcription by impairing H3K36me3 deposition and chromatin accessibility, which activates the STAT1 signaling pathway to promote chemokines and programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) expression and enhance antigen presentation. All these regulatory mechanisms synergistically promote the effects of anti-programmed cell death ligand 1 immunotherapy in Setd2-knockout syngeneic mouse models. The SETD2-NR2F1-STAT1 regulatory axis is conserved in human and murine cancers. Finally, cancer patients harboring SETD2 mutations who received ICIs show increased durable clinical benefits and survival.


These findings provide novel insights into the biology of SETD2 inactivation regulation and reveal a new potential therapeutic biomarker for ICIs immunotherapy in various refractory cancers.

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