An immune modulatory role for the fes proto-oncogene
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The Fes protein tyrosine kinase is abundantly expressed in phagocytic immune cells, including tumor associated macrophages. Fes knockout mice (fes-/-) display enhanced sensitivity to LPS, and this was shown to be associated with increased NF-κB signaling and TNFα production from fes-/- macrophages. Interestingly, tumor onset in the mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV-Neu) transgenic mouse model of breast cancer is significantly delayed in fes-/- mice, and this was associated with increased frequency of CD11b+ myeloid and CD3+ T cells in the premalignant mammary glands. Recent studies have also implicated Fes in cross-talk between MHC-I and the NF-κB and IRF-3 pathways in macrophages. Signal 3, the production of inflammatory cytokines and Type I interferons downstream of NF-κB and IRF-3 pathways in antigen presenting cells, is considered an important component of T-cell activation, after engagement of T cell receptor by MHC presented antigen (Signal 1) and co-receptors by their ligands (Signal 2). Using a lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) model of immune activation, I show that LPS stimulated fes-/- macrophages promote more robust activation of LCMV antigenspecific CD8+ T cells than wild type macrophages (fes+/+). Furthermore, LPS stimulated fes-/- macrophages showed increased phosphorylation of NF-B and IRF-3. I also showed that Fes colocalizes with MHC-I in dynamic vesicular structures within macrophages. These observations are consistent with a model where Fes regulates Signal 3 in antigen presenting cells through roles in cross-talk between MHC-I and the NF-kB and IRF-3 signaling pathways. This suggests that Fes plays an immune checkpoint role at the level of Signal 3, and that Fes inhibition could promote tumor immunity through increased Signal 3 driven T cell activation.