Genome-scale screens identify factors regulating tumor cell responses to natural killer cells

M. Sheffer*, E. Lowry, N. Beelen, M. Borah, S. Naffar-Abu Amara, C.C. Mader, J.A. Roth, A. Tsherniak, S.S. Freeman, O. Dashevsky, S. Gandolfi, S. Bender, J.G. Bryan, C. Zhu, L. Wang, I. Tariq, G.M. Kamath, R.D. Simoes, E. Dhimolea, C.N. YuY.G. Hu, O. Dufva, M. Giannakis, V. Syrgkanis, E. Fraenkel, T. Golub, R. Romee, S. Mustjoki, A.C. Culhane, L. Wieten, C.S. Mitsiades*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


To systematically define molecular features in human tumor cells that determine their degree of sensitivity to human allogeneic natural killer (NK) cells, we quantified the NK cell responsiveness of hundreds of molecularly annotated 'DNA-barcoded' solid tumor cell lines in multiplexed format and applied genome-scale CRISPR-based gene-editing screens in several solid tumor cell lines, to functionally interrogate which genes in tumor cells regulate the response to NK cells. In these orthogonal studies, NK cell-sensitive tumor cells tend to exhibit 'mesenchymal-like' transcriptional programs; high transcriptional signature for chromatin remodeling complexes; high levels of B7-H6 (NCR3LG1); and low levels of HLA-E/antigen presentation genes. Importantly, transcriptional signatures of NK cell-sensitive tumor cells correlate with immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) resistance in clinical samples. This study provides a comprehensive map of mechanisms regulating tumor cell responses to NK cells, with implications for future biomarker-driven applications of NK cell immunotherapies.The use of natural killer (NK) cells in immunotherapy as an alternative to allogeneic T cells is gaining ground. Here, two genome-scale high-throughput platforms are used to identify genes that modulate the sensitivity of multiple solid tumor cell lines to NK-mediated killing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1196-1206
Number of pages21
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


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