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Researchers identify a signaling molecule in neuroblastoma immunosuppression and aggressiveness

Disrupting CKLF represents a promising immunotherapeutic approach to battle certain tumors

Date:
March 15, 2024
Source:
Boston University School of Medicine
Summary:
The MYCN oncoprotein plays a key role in starting, advancing and making it difficult to treat various human cancers. When MYCN is overactive, especially in high-risk neuroblastoma, the tumors become less responsive to immunotherapy -- a treatment that uses the body's immune system to fight cancer. Still, recognition of this problem has not led to any effective strategies to tackle this problem. In a new study, researchers found that MYCN selectively increases the levels of a signaling molecule, CKLF, in neuroblastoma cells to suppress anti-tumor immune responses and promote tumor aggressiveness.
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The MYCN oncoprotein (proteins related to the growth of cancer cells)plays a key role in starting, advancing and making it difficult to treat various human cancers. When MYCN is overactive, especially in high-risk neuroblastoma (childhood cancer often found in the adrenal glands), the tumors become less responsive to immunotherapy -- a treatment that uses the body's immune system to fight cancer. Still, recognition of this problem has not led to any effective strategies to tackle this problem.

In a new study from Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, researchers found that MYCN selectively increases the levels of a signaling molecule, CKLF, in neuroblastoma cells to suppress anti-tumor immune responses and promote tumor aggressiveness.

"As scientists, we are looking for ways to make these less responsive tumors more receptive to immunotherapy to increase its effectiveness. Understanding how tumor cells utilize this molecule to communicate with immune cells will facilitate the development of effective immunotherapeutic strategies to provide more effective treatments with fewer toxicities for children with high-risk neuroblastoma," explained corresponding author Hui Feng, MD, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology, physiology & biophysics at the school.

The researchers studied an experimental model, clinical patient samples, and in-vitro cell culture. The experimental models of neuroblastoma with and without overexpression of the signaling molecule, CKLF, were compared for their ability to increase tumor aggression through the suppression of anti-tumor immune responses.

According to Xiaodan Qin, PhD, the first author of the study and a research scientist in the Feng Lab, the research is critical to understanding the mechanisms by which tumor cells induce a tumor microenvironment that compromises the function of immune cells, and it uncovered additional therapeutic approaches to evoke anti-tumor immune responses. "The long-term goal of this research is to uncover effective drugs that are much less toxic than chemotherapy and radiotherapy for treating high-risk neuroblastoma and perhaps other types of MYCN-driven childhood cancers," Feng says.

The findings appear online in Science Advances.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Boston University School of Medicine. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xiaodan Qin, Andrew Lam, Xu Zhang, Satyaki Sengupta, J. Bryan Iorgulescu, Hongru Ni, Sanjukta Das, Madison Rager, Zhenwei Zhou, Tao Zuo, Grace K. Meara, Alexander E. Floru, Chinyere Kemet, Divya Veerapaneni, Daniel Kashy, Liang Lin, Kenneth Lloyd, Lauren Kwok, Kaylee S. Smith, Raghavendar T. Nagaraju, Rob Meijers, Craig Ceol, Ching-Ti Liu, Sanda Alexandrescu, Catherine J. Wu, Derin B. Keskin, Rani E. George, Hui Feng. CKLF instigates a 'cold' microenvironment to promote MYCN-mediated tumor aggressiveness. Science Advances, 2024; 10 (11) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adh9547

Cite This Page:

Boston University School of Medicine. "Researchers identify a signaling molecule in neuroblastoma immunosuppression and aggressiveness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 March 2024. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/03/240315161019.htm>.
Boston University School of Medicine. (2024, March 15). Researchers identify a signaling molecule in neuroblastoma immunosuppression and aggressiveness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/03/240315161019.htm
Boston University School of Medicine. "Researchers identify a signaling molecule in neuroblastoma immunosuppression and aggressiveness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/03/240315161019.htm (accessed April 21, 2024).

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