Chromatin regulation and immune escape

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Science  16 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6377, pp. 745-746
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat0383

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Antigens expressed by cancer cells target them for elimination by tumor-infiltrating T cells (1). But, despite T cell recognition, advanced malignancies are often fatally progressive. T cell inhibitory (checkpoint) receptors, including programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and cytotoxic T lymphocyte–associated protein 4 (CTLA-4), contribute to immune suppression and dysfunction in tumors. Checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs) developed to block these pathways and derepress T cell activity have considerably improved outcomes for various cancer types. However, beyond certain rare and highly sensitive tumors (2), responses remain limited to a fraction of patients, and both primary and acquired resistance are frequently observed. Although much work has focused on defining and overcoming T cell–intrinsic inhibitory mechanisms, such as checkpoint expression, less is known about what regulates tumor cell sensitivity to T cell attack. On pages 801 and 770 of this issue, Miao et al. (3) and Pan et al. (4), respectively, find that chromatin remodeling pathways contribute to cancer cell immune resistance through control of interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) expression. This has implications for our understanding of why CPIs fail and suggests that targeting these pathways may enhance tumor immunotherapy.