Immune selection and emergence of aggressive tumor variants as negative consequences of Fas-mediated cytotoxicity and altered IFN-γ-regulated gene expression

Kebin Liu, Sheila A. Caldwell, Scott I. Abrams

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32 Scopus citations


Antitumor responses can be induced in patients via active or adoptive immunotherapy, yet complete tumor eradication occurs infrequently. This paradox in tumor immunology led us to address two questions: (a) Does an antitumor response, which is intended to destroy the aberrant target population, also at the same time select for aggressive tumor variants (ATV) in vivo? (b) If this process does occur, what is the contribution of the perform- or Fas-mediated effector mechanism in the immune selection of such ATV? Here, in an experimental mouse lung metastasis model, we showed that ATV generated either naturally in vivo or in vitro by anti-Fas selection resembled each other biologically and genetically as judged by enhanced tumor growth and genome-scale gene expression profiling, respectively. Furthermore, ATV that survived CTL adoptive immunotherapy displayed an even more profound loss of Fas expression and function as well as enhanced malignant proficiency in vivo. ATV, however, retained sensitivity to perforin-mediated lysis in vitro. Lastly, such ATV displayed a diminished responsiveness in their expression of IFN-γ-regulated genes, including those mechanistically linked to Fas-mediated death (i.e., Fas and caspase-1). Overall, we showed that (a) immune selection did occur in vivo and played an important role in the emergence of ATV, (b) ATV bearing a Fas-resistant phenotype was a chief consequence of immune selection, and (c) an overall diminished responsiveness of IFN-γ- regulated gene expression was characteristic of ATV. Thus, in this model, Fas-mediated cytotoxicity, in concert with IFN-γ-regulated gene expression, mechanistically constituted significant determinants of immune selection of ATV in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4376-4388
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2005
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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