Understanding the intrinsic mediators that render CD8+ T cells dysfunctional in the tumor microenvironment is a requirement to develop more effective cancer immunotherapies. Here, we report that C/EBP homologous protein (Chop), a downstream sensor of severe endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, is a major negative regulator of the effector function of tumor-reactive CD8+ T cells. Chop expression is increased in tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells, which correlates with poor clinical outcome in ovarian cancer patients. Deletion of Chop in T cells improves spontaneous antitumor CD8+ T cell immunity and boosts the efficacy of T cell-based immunotherapy. Mechanistically, Chop in CD8+ T cells is elevated primarily through the ER stress-associated kinase Perk and a subsequent induction of Atf4; and directly represses the expression of T-bet, a master regulator of effector T cell function. These findings demonstrate the primary role of Chop in tumor-induced CD8+ T cell dysfunction and the therapeutic potential of blocking Chop or ER stress to unleash T cell-mediated antitumor immunity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)