Evading the anti-tumour immune response - a novel role for Focal Adhesion Kinase
Lund, Thomas Anthony
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Here I describe a new function of Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) in driving anti-tumour immune evasion. The kinase activity of FAK in squamous cancer cells drives the recruitment of regulatory T-cells (Tregs) by transcriptionally regulating chemokine/cytokine and ligand-receptor networks, including the transcription of CCL5 and TGFβ, which are required for enhanced Treg recruitment. In turn, these changes inhibit antigen-primed cytotoxic CD8+ T-cell activity in the tumour microenvironment, permitting survival and growth of FAK-expressing tumours. I show that immune evasion requires FAK’s catalytic activity, and a small molecule FAK kinase inhibitor, VS-4718, which is currently in clinical development, drives depletion of Tregs and permits CD8+ T-cell-mediated tumour clearance. It is therefore likely that FAK inhibitors may trigger immune-mediated tumour regression, providing previously unrecognized therapeutic benefit.