FAK suppresses antigen processing and presentation to promote immune evasion in pancreatic cancer

Marta Canel, Aleksandra Slawinska, David Lonergan, Ashwin Adrian Kallor, Rosie Upstill-Goddard, Catherine Davidson, Alexander von Kriegsheim, Andrew V Biankin, Adam Byron, Javier Alfaro, Alan Serrels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Immunotherapy for the treatment of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has shown limited efficacy. Poor CD8 T-cell infiltration, low neoantigen load and a highly immunosuppressive tumour microenvironment contribute to this lack of response. Here, we aimed to further investigate the immunoregulatory function of Focal Adhesion Kinase in PDAC, with specific emphasis on regulation of the type-II interferon response that is critical in promoting T-cell tumour recognition and effective immunosurveillance.

We combined CRISPR, proteogenomics and transcriptomics with mechanistic experiments using a KrasG12Dp53R172H mouse model of pancreatic cancer and validated findings using proteomic analysis of human patient-derived PDAC cell lines and analysis of publicly available human PDAC transcriptomics datasets.

Loss of PDAC cell-intrinsic FAK signalling promotes expression of the immunoproteasome and MHC-I, resulting in increased antigen diversity and antigen presentation by FAK-/- PDAC cells. Regulation of the immunoproteasome by FAK is a critical determinant of this response, optimising the physicochemical properties of the peptide repertoire for high affinity binding to MHC-I. Expression of these pathways can be further amplified in a STAT1-dependent manner via co-depletion of FAK and STAT3, resulting in extensive infiltration of tumour-reactive CD8 T-cells and further restraint of tumour growth. FAK-dependent regulation of antigen processing and presentation is conserved between mouse and human PDAC, but is lost in cells / tumours with an extreme squamous phenotype.

Therapies aimed at FAK degradation may unlock additional therapeutic benefit for the treatment of PDAC through increasing antigen diversity and promoting antigen presentation.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date28 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Immunology
  • Antigen Processing & Presentation
  • Neoantigens
  • Immunoproteasome
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase


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