Blockade of IDO-kynurenine-AhR metabolic circuitry abrogates IFN-γ-induced immunologic dormancy of tumor-repopulating cells.
Liu Y1,2, Liang X1, Yin X1, Lv J1, Tang K3, Ma J3, Ji T3, Zhang H1, Dong W1, Jin X1, Chen D1, Li Y1, Zhang S4, Xie HQ4, Zhao B4, Zhao T5, Lu J1, Hu ZW6, Cao X1, Qin FX7,8, Huang B1,2,3
Nat Commun. 2017 May 10;8:15207
Interactions with the immune system may lead tumorigenic cells into dormancy. However, the underlying molecular mechanism is poorly understood. Using a 3D fibrin gel model, we show that IFN-γ induces tumour-repopulating cells (TRCs) to enter dormancy through an indolamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1)-kynurenine (Kyn)-aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-p27 dependent pathway. Mechanistically, IFN-γ signalling triggers differentiated tumour cell apoptosis via STAT1; however, when IDO1 and AhR are highly expressed as in TRCs, IFN-γ results in IDO1/AhR-dependent p27 induction that prevents STAT1 signalling, thus suppressing the process of cell death and activating the dormancy program. Blocking the IDO/AhR metabolic circuitry not only abrogates IFN-γ-induced dormancy but also results in enhanced repression of tumour growth by IFN-γ-induced apoptosis of TRCs both in vitro and in vivo. These data present a previously unrecognized mechanism of inducing TRC dormancy by IFN-γ, suggesting a potential effective cancer immunotherapeutic modality through the combination of IFN-γ and IDO/AhR inhibitors.