Nanocomplex-based TP53 gene therapy promotes anti-tumor immunity through TP53- and STING-dependent mechanisms

Ellen C. Moore, Lillian Sun, Paul E. Clavijo, Jay Friedman, Joe B. Harford, Anthony D. Saleh, Carter Van Waes, Esther H. Chang, Clint T. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Loss or mutation of TP53 has been linked to alterations in anti-tumor immunity as well as dysregulation of cell cycle and apoptosis. We explored immunologic effects and mechanisms following restoration of wild-type human TP53 cDNA in murine oral cancer cells using the therapeutic nanocomplex scL-53. We demonstrated scL-53 induces dose-dependent expression of TP53 and induction of apoptosis and immunogenic cell death. We further demonstrated both TP53-dependent and independent induction of tumor cell immunogenicity through the use of blocking mAbs, nanocomplex loaded with DNA plasmid with or without TP53 cDNA, empty nanocomplex and siRNA knockdown techniques. TP53-independent immune modulation was observed following treatment with nanocomplex loaded with DNA plasmid lacking TP53 cDNA and abrogated in STING-deficient tumor cells, supporting the presence of a cytoplasmic DNA sensing, STING-dependent type-I IFN response. Cooperatively, TP53- and STING-dependent alterations sensitized tumor cells to CTL-mediated lysis, which was further enhanced following reversal of adaptive immune resistance with PD-1 mAb. In vivo, combination scL-53 and PD-1 mAb resulted in growth control or rejection of established tumors that was abrogated in mice depleted of CD8+ cells or in STING deficient mice. Cumulatively, this work demonstrates 1) a direct anti-tumor effects of functional TP53; 2) non-redundant TP53- and STING-dependent induction of tumor cell immunogenicity following scL-53 treatment; and 3) that adaptive immune resistance following scL-53 treatment can be reversed with PD-based immune checkpoint blockade, resulting in the rejection or control of syngeneic murine tumors. These data strongly support the clinical combination of scL-53 and immune checkpoint blockade.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1404216
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 3 2018


  • Gene therapy
  • TP53
  • adaptive immune resistance
  • checkpoint inhibitor
  • immunity
  • nanocomplex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology


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