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Cancer Res. 2010 Jul 15;70(14):5778-87. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-2538. Epub 2010 Jun 22.

DC-HIL/glycoprotein Nmb promotes growth of melanoma in mice by inhibiting the activation of tumor-reactive T cells.

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Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Dermatology Section Medical Service, Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390-9069, USA.


DC-HIL/glycoprotein nmb (Gpnmb) expressed on antigen-presenting cells attenuates T-cell activation by binding to syndecan-4 (SD-4) on activated T cells. Because DC-HIL/Gpnmb is expressed abundantly by mouse and human melanoma lines, we posited that melanoma-associated DC-HIL/Gpnmb exerts similar inhibitory function on melanoma-reactive T cells. We generated small interfering RNA-transfected B16F10 melanoma cells to completely knock down DC-HIL/Gpnmb expression, with no alteration in cell morphology, melanin synthesis, or MHC class I expression. This knockdown had no effect on B16F10 proliferation in vitro or entry into the cell cycle following growth stimulation, but it markedly reduced the growth of these cells in vivo following their s.c. injection into syngeneic immunocompetent (but not immunodeficient) mice. This reduction in tumor growth was due most likely to an augmented capacity of DC-HIL-knocked down B16F10 cells (compared with controls) to activate melanoma-reactive T cells as documented in vitro and in mice. Whereas DC-HIL knockdown had no effect on susceptibility of melanoma to killing by cytotoxic T cells, blocking SD-4 function enhanced the reactivity of CD8(+) T cells to melanoma-associated antigens on parental B16F10 cells. Using an assay examining the spread to the lung following i.v. injection, DC-HIL-knocked down cells produced lung foci at similar numbers compared with that produced by control cells, but the size of the former foci was significantly smaller than the latter. We conclude that DC-HIL/Gpnmb confers upon melanoma the ability to downregulate the activation of melanoma-reactive T cells, thereby allowing melanoma to evade immunologic recognition and destruction. As such, the DC-HIL/SD-4 pathway is a potentially useful target for antimelanoma immunotherapy.

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