MRTF-A-NF-κB/p65 axis-mediated PDL1 transcription and expression contributes to immune evasion of non-small-cell lung cancer via TGF-β

Fu Du, Xin Qi, Aotong Zhang, Fanfan Sui, Xuemin Wang, Christopher G. Proud, Cunzhi Lin, Xinglong Fan, Jing Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


PD-L1 is abnormally regulated in many cancers and is critical for immune escape. Fully understanding the regulation of PD-L1 expression is vital for improving the clinical efficacy of relevant anticancer agents. TGF-β plays an important role in the low reactivity of PD-1/PD-L1 antibody immunotherapy. However, it is not very clear whether and how TGF-β affects PD-L1 expression. In the present study, we show that TGF-β upregulates the expression of the transcriptional coactivator MRTF-A in non-small-cell lung cancer cells, which subsequently interacts with NF-κB/p65 rather than SRF to facilitate the binding of NF-κB/p65 to the PDL1 promoter, thereby activating the transcription and expression of PD-L1. This leads to the immune escape of NSCLC cells. This process is dependent on the activation of the TGF-β signaling pathway. In vivo, inhibition of MRTF-A effectively suppresses the growth of lung tumor syngrafts with enrichment of NK and T cells in tumor tissue. Our study defines a new signaling pathway that regulates the transcription and expression of PD-L1 upon TGF-β treatment, which may have a significant impact on research into the application of immunotherapy in treating lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1366-1378
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental and Molecular Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Sept 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry

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