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Liver metastasis represents one of the most frequent malignant diseases with no effective treatment. Functional reprogramming of Kupffer cells (KCs), the largest population of hepatic macrophages, holds promise for treating liver cancer, but remains seldom exploited. Taking advantage of the superior capacity of KCs to capture circulating bacteria, we report that a single administration of attenuated Escherichia coli producing clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeats CasΦ (CRISPR/CasΦ) machinery enables efficient editing of genes of interest in KCs. Using intravital microscopy, we observed a failure of tumor control by KCs at the late stage of liver metastasis due to KC loss preferentially in the tumor core and periphery, resulting in inaccessibility of these highly phagocytic macrophages to cancer cells. Simultaneous disruption of MafB and c-Maf expression using the aforementioned engineered bacteria could overcome KC dysfunction and elicit remarkable curative effects against several types of metastatic liver cancer in mice. Mechanistically, bacterial treatment induced massive proliferation and functional reprogramming of KCs. These cells infiltrated into the tumor, dismantled macrometastases by nibbling cancer cells, and skewed toward proinflammatory macrophages to unleash antitumor T cell responses. These findings provide an immunotherapy strategy that could be applicable for treating liver metastasis and highlight the therapeutic potential of targeting tissue-resident macrophages in cancer.


Wei Liu, Xia Zhou, Qi Yao, Chen Chen, Qing Zhang, Keshuo Ding, Lu Li, Zhutian Zeng


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