Survivin blockade sensitizes rhabdomyosarcoma cells for lysis by fetal acetylcholine receptor-redirected T cells.
Simon-Keller K., Paschen A., Hombach AA., Ströbel P., Coindre JM., Eichmüller SB., Vincent A., Gattenlöhner S., Hoppe F., Leuschner I., Stegmaier S., Koscielniak E., Leverkus M., Altieri DC., Abken H., Marx A.
Cellular immunotherapy may provide a strategy to overcome the poor prognosis of metastatic and recurrent rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) under the current regimen of polychemotherapy. Because little is known about resistance mechanisms of RMS to cytotoxic T cells, we investigated RMS cell lines and biopsy specimens for expression and function of immune costimulatory receptors and anti-apoptotic molecules by RT-PCR, Western blot analysis, IHC, and cytotoxicity assays using siRNA or transfection-modified RMS cell lines, together with engineered RMS-directed cytotoxic T cells specific for the fetal acetylcholine receptor. We found that costimulatory CD80 and CD86 were consistently absent from all RMSs tested, whereas inducible T-cell co-stimulator ligand (ICOS-L; alias B7H2) was expressed by a subset of RMSs and was inducible by tumor necrosis factor α in two of five RMS cell lines. Anti-apoptotic survivin, along with other inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) family members (cIAP1, cIAP2, and X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein), was overexpressed by RMS cell lines and biopsy specimens. Down-regulation of survivin by siRNA or pharmacologically in RMS cells increased their susceptibility toward a T-cell attack, whereas induction of ICOS-L did not. Treatment of RMS-bearing Rag(-/-) mice with fetal acetylcholine receptor-specific chimeric T cells delayed xenograft growth; however, this happened without definitive tumor eradication. Combined blockade of survivin and application of chimeric T cells in vivo suppressed tumor proliferation during survivin inhibition. In conclusion, survivin blockade provides a strategy to sensitize RMS cells for T-cell-based therapy.