Tumorous expression of NAC1 restrains antitumor immunity through the LDHA-mediated immune evasion

Yijie Ren, Anil Kumar, Jugal K. Das, Hao Yun Peng, Liqing Wang, Darby Balllard, Xiaofang Xiong, Xingcong Ren, Yi Zhang, Jin Ming Yang, Jianxun Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background T cell-mediated antitumor immunity has a vital role in cancer prevention and treatment; however, the immune-suppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) constitutes a significant contributor to immune evasion that weakens antitumor immunity. Here, we explore the relationship between nucleus accumbens-associated protein-1 (NAC1), a nuclear factor of the BTB (broad-complex, Tramtrack, bric a brac)/POZ (Poxvirus, and Zinc finger) gene family, and the TME. Methods Adoptive cell transfer (ACT) of mouse or human tumor antigen (Ag)-specific CD8 + cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) was tested in an immunocompetent or immunodeficient mouse model of melanoma with or without expression of NAC1. The effects of NAC1 expression on immune evasion in tumor cells were assessed in vitro and in vivo. CRISPR/Cas9, glycolysis analysis, retroviral transduction, quantitative real-time PCR, flow cytometric analysis, immunoblotting, database analyses were used to screen the downstream target and underlying mechanism of NAC1 in tumor cells. Results Tumorous expression of NAC1 negatively impacts the CTL-mediated antitumor immunity via lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA)-mediated suppressive TME. NAC1 positively regulated the expression of LDHA at the transcriptional level, which led to higher accumulation of lactic acid in the TME. This inhibited the cytokine production and induced exhaustion and apoptosis of CTLs, impairing their cell-killing ability. In the immunocompetent and immunodeficient mice, NAC1 depleted melanoma tumors grew significantly slower and had an elevated infiltration of tumor Ag-specific CTLs following ACT, compared with the control groups. Conclusions Tumor expression of NAC1 contributes substantially to immune evasion through its regulatory role in LDHA expression and lactic acid production. Thus, therapeutic targeting of NAC1 warrants further exploration as a potential strategy to reinforce cancer immunotherapy, such as the ACT of CTLs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere004856
JournalJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 23 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:


  • Immunomodulation
  • Immunotherapy
  • Tumor Escape
  • Tumor Microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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