CD73 on cancer-associated fibroblasts enhanced by the A2B-mediated feedforward circuit enforces an immune checkpoint

Miao Yu, Gang Guo, Lei Huang, Libin Deng, Chang Sheng Chang, Bhagelu Ram Achyut, Madison Canning, Ningchun Xu, Ali S. Arbab, Roni J. Bollag, Paulo C. Rodriguez, Andrew Lee Mellor, Huidong Shi, David H. Munn, Yan Cui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


CD73, an ecto-5′-nucleotidase (NT5E), serves as an immune checkpoint by generating adenosine (ADO), which suppresses immune activation through the A2A receptor. Elevated CD73 levels in tumor tissues correlate with poor clinical outcomes. However, the crucial source of CD73 activity within the tumor microenvironment remains unspecified. Here, we demonstrate that cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) constitute the prominent CD73hi population in human colorectal cancers (CRCs) and two CD73 murine tumor models, including a modified CRC. Clinically, high CAF abundancy in CRC tissues correlates strongly with elevated CD73 activity and poor prognosis. Mechanistically, CAF-CD73 expression is enhanced via an ADO-A2B receptor-mediated feedforward circuit triggered by tumor cell death, which enforces the CD73-checkpoint. Simultaneous inhibition of A2A and A2B pathways with CD73-neutralization synergistically enhances antitumor immunity in CAF-rich tumors. Therefore, the strategic and effective targeting of both the A2B-mediated ADO-CAF-CD73 feedforward circuit and A2A-mediated immune suppression is crucial for improving therapeutic outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number515
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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