MYC regulates the antitumor immune response through CD47 and PD-L1

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Science  10 Mar 2016:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac9935

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The MYC oncogene codes for a transcription factor that is overexpressed in many human cancers. Here we show that MYC regulates the expression of two immune checkpoint proteins on the tumor cell surface, the innate immune regulator, CD47 (Cluster of Differentiation 47) and the adaptive immune checkpoint, PD-L1 (programmed death-ligand 1). Suppression of MYC in mouse tumors and human tumor cells caused a reduction in the levels of CD47 and PD-L1 mRNA and protein. MYC was found to bind directly to the promoters of the CD47 and PD-L1 genes. MYC inactivation in mouse tumors down-regulated CD47 and PD-L1 expression and enhanced the anti-tumor immune response. In contrast, when MYC was inactivated in tumors with enforced expression of CD47 or PD-L1, the immune response was suppressed and tumors continued to grow. Thus MYC appears to initiate and maintain tumorigenesis in part through the modulation of immune regulatory molecules.

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