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Epithelial-mesenchymal transition leads to NK cell–mediated metastasis-specific immunosurveillance in lung cancer

Peter J. Chockley, … , Theodore J. Standiford, Venkateshwar G. Keshamouni
J Clin Invest. 2018. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI97611.

During epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) epithelial cancer cells trans-differentiate into highly-motile, invasive, mesenchymal-like cells giving rise to disseminating tumor cells. Only few of these disseminated cells successfully metastasize. Immune cells and inflammation in the tumor microenvironment was shown to drive EMT, but few studies investigated the consequences of EMT on tumor immunosurveillance. In addition to initiating metastasis, we demonstrate that EMT confers increased susceptibility to NK cells and contributes, in part, to the inefficiency of the metastatic process. Depletion of NK cells allowed spontaneous metastasis without effecting primary tumor growth. EMT-induced modulation of E-cadherin and cell adhesion molecule 1 (CADM1) mediated increased susceptibility to NK cytotoxicity. Higher CADM1 expression correlates with improved patient survival in two lung and one breast adenocarcinoma patient cohorts and decreased metastasis. Our observation reveal a novel NK-mediated, metastasis-specific, immunosurveillance in lung cancer and presents a window of opportunity for the prevention of metastasis by boosting NK cell activity.

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