Tumor-derived NKG2D ligand sMIC reprograms NK cells to an inflammatory phenotype through CBM signalosome activation

Payal Dhar, Fahmin Basher, Zhe Ji, Lei Huang, Si Qin, Derek A. Wainwright, Jerid Robinson, Shaye Hagler, Jing Zhou, Sean MacKay, Jennifer D. Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Natural Killer (NK) cell dysfunction is associated with poorer clinical outcome in cancer patients. What regulates NK cell dysfunction in tumor microenvironment is not well understood. Here, we demonstrate that the human tumor-derived NKG2D ligand soluble MIC (sMIC) reprograms NK cell to secrete pro-tumorigenic cytokines with diminished cytotoxicity and polyfunctional potential. Antibody clearing sMIC restores NK cell to a normal cytotoxic effector functional state. We discovered that sMIC selectively activates the CBM-signalosome inflammatory pathways in NK cells. Conversely, tumor cell membrane-bound MIC (mMIC) stimulates NK cell cytotoxicity through activating PLC2γ2/SLP-76/Vav1 pathway. Ultimately, antibody targeting sMIC effectuated the in vivo anti-tumor effect of adoptively transferred NK cells. Our findings uncover an unrecognized mechanism that could instruct NK cell to a dysfunctional state in response to cues in the tumor microenvironment. Our findings provide a rationale for co-targeting sMIC to enhance the efficacy of the ongoing NK cell-based cancer immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number905
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Tumor-derived NKG2D ligand sMIC reprograms NK cells to an inflammatory phenotype through CBM signalosome activation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this