Education & Certifications
Bachelor of Science, Washington State University, Biochemistry (2012)
Bachelor of Arts, Washington State University, Philosophy (2012)
Edgar Engleman, Doctoral Dissertation Advisor (AC)
Cell-cell interactions influence all aspects of development, homeostasis, and disease. In cancer, interactions between cancer cells and stromal cells play a major role in nearly every step of carcinogenesis. Thus, the ability to record cell-cell interactions would facilitate mechanistic delineation of the role of cancer microenvironment. Here, we describe GFP-based Touching Nexus (G-baToN) which relies upon nanobody-directed fluorescent protein transfer to enable sensitive and specific labeling of cells after cell-cell interactions. G-baToN is a generalizable system that enables physical contact-based labeling between various human and mouse cell types, including endothelial cell-pericyte, neuron-astrocyte, and diverse cancer-stromal cell pairs. A suite of orthogonal baToN tools enables reciprocal cell-cell labeling, interaction-dependent cargo transfer, and the identification of higher-order cell-cell interactions across a wide range of cell types. The ability to track physically interacting cells with these simple and sensitive systems will greatly accelerate our understanding of the outputs of cell-cell interactions in cancer as well as across many biological processes.
View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.61080
View details for PubMedID 33025906
The recent success of checkpoint blockade therapies has established immunotherapy as one of the most promising treatments for melanoma. Nonetheless, a complete curative response following immunotherapy is observed only in a fraction of patients. To identify what factors limit the efficacy of immunotherapies, we established mouse models that cease to respond to immunotherapies once their tumors exceed a certain stage. Analysis of the immune systems of the organisms revealed that the numbers of tumor-infiltrating dendritic cells (TIDC) drastically decreased with time. Further, in contrast to the current paradigm, once melanoma was established, TIDC did not migrate into sentinel lymph nodes. Instead, they underwent local cell death due to excessive phagocytosis of lysosomes. Importantly, TIDC were required to license the cytotoxic activity of tumor CD8+ T cells, and in their absence, T cells did not lyse melanoma cells. Our results offer a paradigm shift regarding the role of TIDC and a framework to increase the efficacy of immunotherapies.
View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-2944
View details for PubMedID 32127354
BM-derived DC (BMDC) are powerful antigen-presenting cells. When loaded with immune complexes (IC), consisting of tumor antigens bound to antitumor antibody, BMDC induce powerful antitumor immunity in mice. However, attempts to employ this strategy clinically with either tumor-associated DC (TADC) or monocyte-derived DC (MoDC) have been disappointing. To investigate the basis for this phenomenon, we compared the response of BMDC, TADC, and MoDC to tumor IgG-IC. Our findings revealed, in both mice and humans, that upon exposure to IgG-IC, BMDC internalized the IC, increased costimulatory molecule expression, and stimulated autologous T cells. In contrast, TADC and, surprisingly, MoDC remained inert upon contact with IC due to dysfunctional signaling following engagement of Fcγ receptors. Such dysfunction is associated with elevated levels of the Src homology region 2 domain-containing phosphatase-1 (SHP-1) and phosphatases regulating Akt activation. Indeed, concomitant inhibition of both SHP-1 and phosphatases that regulate Akt activation conferred upon TADC and MoDC the capacity to take up and process IC and induce antitumor immunity in vivo. This work identifies the molecular checkpoints that govern activation of MoDC and TADC and their capacity to elicit T cell immunity.
View details for PubMedID 27812544
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5085602
Whereas cancers grow within host tissues and evade host immunity through immune-editing and immunosuppression, tumours are rarely transmissible between individuals. Much like transplanted allogeneic organs, allogeneic tumours are reliably rejected by host T cells, even when the tumour and host share the same major histocompatibility complex alleles, the most potent determinants of transplant rejection. How such tumour-eradicating immunity is initiated remains unknown, although elucidating this process could provide the basis for inducing similar responses against naturally arising tumours. Here we find that allogeneic tumour rejection is initiated in mice by naturally occurring tumour-binding IgG antibodies, which enable dendritic cells (DCs) to internalize tumour antigens and subsequently activate tumour-reactive T cells. We exploited this mechanism to treat autologous and autochthonous tumours successfully. Either systemic administration of DCs loaded with allogeneic-IgG-coated tumour cells or intratumoral injection of allogeneic IgG in combination with DC stimuli induced potent T-cell-mediated antitumour immune responses, resulting in tumour eradication in mouse models of melanoma, pancreas, lung and breast cancer. Moreover, this strategy led to eradication of distant tumours and metastases, as well as the injected primary tumours. To assess the clinical relevance of these findings, we studied antibodies and cells from patients with lung cancer. T cells from these patients responded vigorously to autologous tumour antigens after culture with allogeneic-IgG-loaded DCs, recapitulating our findings in mice. These results reveal that tumour-binding allogeneic IgG can induce powerful antitumour immunity that can be exploited for cancer immunotherapy.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature14424
View details for PubMedID 25924063
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4877172
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