Intracellular therapeutic targets that define tumor immunosuppression in both tumor cells and T cells remain intractable. Here, we have shown that administration of a covalently linked siRNA to an aptamer (apt) that selectively binds cytotoxic T lymphocyte–associated antigen 4 (CTLA4apt) allows gene silencing in exhausted CD8+ T cells and Tregs in tumors as well as CTLA4-expressing malignant T cells. CTLA4 expression was upregulated in CD8+ T cells in the tumor milieu; therefore, CTLA4apt fused to a STAT3-targeting siRNA (CTLA4apt–STAT3 siRNA) resulted in internalization into tumor-associated CD8+ T cells and silencing of STAT3, which activated tumor antigen–specific T cells in murine models. Both local and systemic administration of CTLA4apt–STAT3 siRNA dramatically reduced tumor-associated Tregs. Furthermore, CTLA4apt–STAT3 siRNA potently inhibited tumor growth and metastasis in various mouse tumor models. Importantly, CTLA4 expression is observed in T cells of patients with blood malignancies, and CTLA4apt–STAT3 siRNA treatment of immunodeficient mice bearing human T cell lymphomas promoted tumor cell apoptosis and tumor growth inhibition. These data demonstrate that a CTLA4apt-based siRNA delivery strategy allows gene silencing in both tumor-associated T cells and tumor cells and inhibits tumor growth and metastasis.


Andreas Herrmann, Saul J. Priceman, Maciej Kujawski, Hong Xin, Gregory A. Cherryholmes, Wang Zhang, Chunyan Zhang, Christoph Lahtz, Claudia Kowolik, Steve J. Forman, Marcin Kortylewski, Hua Yu


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