Many acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients exhibit hallmarks of immune exhaustion, such as increased myeloid-derived suppressor cells, suppressive regulatory T cells and dysfunctional T cells. Similarly, we have identified the same immune-related features, including exhausted CD8+ T cells (TEx) in a mouse model of AML. Here we show that inhibitors that target bromodomain and extra-terminal domain (BET) proteins affect tumor-intrinsic factors but also rescue T cell exhaustion and ICB resistance. Ex vivo treatment of cells from AML mice and AML patients with BET inhibitors (BETi) reversed CD8+ T cell exhaustion by restoring proliferative capacity and expansion of the more functional precursor-exhausted T cells. This reversal was enhanced by combined BETi and anti-PD1 treatment. BETi synergized with anti-PD1 in vivo, resulting in the reduction of circulating leukemia cells, enrichment of CD8+ T cells in the bone marrow, and increase in expression of Tcf7, Slamf6, and Cxcr5 in CD8+ T cells. Finally, we profiled the epigenomes of in vivo JQ1-treated AML-derived CD8+ T cells by single-cell ATAC-seq and found that JQ1 increases Tcf7 accessibility specifically in Tex cells, suggesting that BETi likely acts mechanistically by relieving repression of progenitor programs in Tex CD8+ T cells and maintaining a pool of anti-PD1 responsive CD8+ T cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research