First-generation immune checkpoint inhibitors, including anti–CTLA-4 and anti–programmed death 1 (anti–PD-1) antibodies, have led to major clinical progress, yet resistance frequently leads to treatment failure. Thus, new targets acting on T cells are needed. CD33-related sialic acid–binding immunoglobulin-like lectins (Siglecs) are pattern-recognition immune receptors binding to a range of sialoglycan ligands, which appear to function as self-associated molecular patterns (SAMPs) that suppress autoimmune responses. Siglecs are expressed at very low levels on normal T cells, and these receptors were not until recently considered as interesting targets on T cells for cancer immunotherapy. Here, we show an upregulation of Siglecs, including Siglec-9, on tumor-infiltrating T cells from non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), colorectal, and ovarian cancer patients. Siglec-9–expressing T cells coexpressed several inhibitory receptors, including PD-1. Targeting of the sialoglycan-SAMP/Siglec pathway in vitro and in vivo resulted in increased anticancer immunity. T cell expression of Siglec-9 in NSCLC patients correlated with reduced survival, and Siglec-9 polymorphisms showed association with the risk of developing lung and colorectal cancer. Our data identify the sialoglycan-SAMP/Siglec pathway as a potential target for improving T cell activation for immunotherapy.
Michal A. Stanczak, Shoib S. Siddiqui, Marcel P. Trefny, Daniela S. Thommen, Kayluz Frias Boligan, Stephan von Gunten, Alexandar Tzankov, Lothar Tietze, Didier Lardinois, Viola Heinzelmann-Schwarz, Michael von Bergwelt-Baildon, Wu Zhang, Heinz-Josef Lenz, Younghun Han, Christopher I. Amos, Mohammedyaseen Syedbasha, Adrian Egli, Frank Stenner, Daniel E. Speiser, Ajit Varki, Alfred Zippelius, Heinz Läubli
Sialylated SAMPs enhance immune escape and tumor growth in vivo.