BET Inhibition Enhances TNF Mediated Anti-Tumor Immunity
ABSTRACTTargeting chromatin binding proteins and modifying enzymes can concomitantly affect tumor cell proliferation and survival, as well as enhance anti-tumor immunity and augment cancer immunotherapies. By screening a small molecule library of epigenetics-based therapeutics, BET bromodomain inhibitors (BETi) were identified as agents that promote the anti-tumor activity of CD8+ T-cells. BETi sensitized diverse tumor types to the cytotoxic effects of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF. By
... tokine TNF. By preventing the recruitment of BRD4 to p65-bound cis-regulatory elements, BETi suppressed the induction of inflammatory gene expression, including the key NF-κB target genes BIRC2 (cIAP1) and BIRC3 (cIAP2). Disruption of pro-survival NF-κB signaling by BETi led to unrestrained TNF-mediated activation of the extrinsic apoptotic cascade and tumor cell death. Administration of BETi in combination with T-cell bispecific (TCB) antibodies increased bystander killing of tumor cells and enhanced tumor growth inhibition in vivo in a TNF-dependent manner. This novel epigenetic mechanism of immunomodulation may guide future use of BETi as adjuvants for immune oncology agents.STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCEManipulating the epigenome is an evolving strategy to enhance anti-tumor immunity. We demonstrate that BET bromodomain inhibitors potently sensitize solid tumors to CD8+ T-cell killing in a TNF-dependent manner. This immunomodulatory mechanism can be therapeutically leveraged to augment immuno-oncology therapies, including TCB antibodies and immune checkpoint blockade.