Vα24-invariant natural killer T (NKT) cells are potentially important for antitumor immunity. We and others have previously demonstrated positive associations between NKT cell presence in primary tumors and long-term survival in distinct human cancers. However, the mechanism by which aggressive tumors avoid infiltration with NKT and other T cells remains poorly understood. Here, we report that the v-myc myelocytomatosis viral related oncogene, neuroblastoma derived (MYCN), the hallmark of aggressive neuroblastoma, repressed expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein–1/CC chemokine ligand 2 (MCP-1/CCL2), a chemokine required for NKT cell chemoattraction. MYCN knockdown in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cell lines restored CCL2 production and NKT cell chemoattraction. Unlike other oncogenes, MYCN repressed chemokine expression in a STAT3-independent manner, requiring an E-box element in the CCL2 promoter to mediate transcriptional repression. MYCN overexpression in neuroblastoma xenografts in NOD/SCID mice severely inhibited their ability to attract human NKT cells, T cells, and monocytes. Patients with MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma metastatic to bone marrow had 4-fold fewer NKT cells in their bone marrow than did their nonamplified counterparts, indicating that the MYCN-mediated immune escape mechanism, which we believe to be novel, is operative in metastatic cancer and should be considered in tumor immunobiology and for the development of new therapeutic strategies.
Liping Song, Tasnim Ara, Hong-Wei Wu, Chan-Wook Woo, C. Patrick Reynolds, Robert C. Seeger, Yves A. DeClerck, Carol J. Thiele, Richard Sposto, Leonid S. Metelitsa