The immune system has a powerful ability to recognize and kill cancer cells, but its function is often suppressed within tumors, preventing clearance of disease. Functionally diverse innate and adaptive cellular lineages either drive or constrain immune reactions within tumors. The transcription factor (TF) BACH2 regulates the differentiation of multiple innate and adaptive cellular lineages, but its role in controlling tumor immunity has not been elucidated. Here, we demonstrate that BACH2 is required to establish immunosuppression within tumors. Tumor growth was markedly impaired in Bach2-deficient mice and coincided with intratumoral activation of both innate and adaptive immunity. However, augmented tumor clearance in the absence of Bach2 was dependent upon the adaptive immune system. Analysis of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes from Bach2-deficient mice revealed high frequencies of rapidly proliferating effector CD4+ and CD8+ T cells that expressed the inflammatory cytokine IFN-γ. Effector T cell activation coincided with a reduction in the frequency of intratumoral Foxp3+ Tregs. Mechanistically, BACH2 promoted tumor immunosuppression through Treg-mediated inhibition of intratumoral CD8+ T cells and IFN-γ. These findings demonstrate that BACH2 is a key component of the molecular program of tumor immunosuppression and identify therapeutic targets for the reversal of immunosuppression in cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Medicine