SLFN11 can sensitize tumor cells towards IFN-γ-mediated T cell killing
Public Library of Science (PLoS) -- PLOS ONE
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0212053

Experimental and clinical observations have highlighted the role of cytotoxic T cells in human tumor control. However, the parameters that control tumor cell sensitivity to T cell attack remain incompletely understood. To identify modulators of tumor cell sensitivity to T cell effector mechanisms, we performed a whole genome haploid screen in HAP1 cells. Selection of tumor cells by exposure to tumor-specific T cells identified components of the interferon-γ (IFN-γ) receptor (IFNGR) signaling pathway, and tumor cell killing by cytotoxic T cells was shown to be in large part mediated by the pro-apoptotic effects of IFN-γ. Notably, we identified schlafen 11 (SLFN11), a known modulator of DNA damage toxicity, as a regulator of tumor cell sensitivity to T cell-secreted IFN-γ. SLFN11 does not influence IFNGR signaling, but couples IFNGR signaling to the induction of the DNA damage response (DDR) in a context dependent fashion. In line with this role of SLFN11, loss of SLFN11 can reduce IFN-γ mediated toxicity. Collectively, our data indicate that SLFN11 can couple IFN-γ exposure of tumor cells to DDR and cellular apoptosis. Future work should reveal the mechanistic basis for the link between IFNGR signaling and DNA damage response, and identify tumor cell types in which SLFN11 contributes to the anti-tumor activity of T cells.