CANCER IMMUNOLOGY

Tumors use bacteria to hide away

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Science  13 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6227, pp. 1214
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6227.1214-a

Fusobacterium nucleatum can inhibit anti-tumor immunity

PHOTO: DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY, INC./VISUALS UNLIMITED, INC.

Although bacteria can help the immune system wage war against cancer, they can play for the other side, too. Gur et al. reveal one such example for the bacterium Fusobacterium nucleatum, which is found in human tumors such as colon adenocarcinomas. A protein on the bacteria (Fap2) binds to an inhibitory receptor called TIGIT expressed on the surface of natural killer cells and T cells, reducing their ability to kill bacteria-associated tumor cells in culture. Whether F. nucleatum plays a similar role in people with colon adenocarcinomas remains to be determined.

Immunity 42, 344 (2015).

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