CBP/p300 acetyltransferases regulate the expression of NKG2D ligands on tumor cells

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Tumor surveillance of natural killer (NK) cells is mediated by the cytotoxicity receptor natural-killer group 2 member D (NKG2D). Ligands for NKG2D are generally not expressed on healthy cells, but induced on the surface of malignant cells. To date, NKG2D ligand (NKG2D-L) induction was mainly described to depend on the activation of the DNA damage response, although the molecular mechanisms that regulate NKG2D-L expression remain largely unknown. Here, we show that the acetyltransferases CBP (CREB-binding protein) and p300 play a crucial role in the regulation of NKG2D-L on tumor cells. Loss of CBP/p300 decreased the basal cell surface expression of human ligands and reduced the upregulation of MICA/B and ULBP2 in response to histone deacetylase inhibitors or DNA damage. Furthermore, CBP/P300 deficiency abrogated the sensitivity of stressed cells to NK cell-mediated killing. CBP/p300 were also identified as major regulators of mouse NKG2D ligand RAE-1 in vitro and in vivo using the Eμ-Myc lymphoma model. Mechanistically, we observed an enhanced activation of the CBP/p300 binding transcription factor CREB (cAMP response element-binding protein) correlating to the NKG2D-L upregulation. Moreover, increased binding of CREB and CBP/p300 to NKG2D-L promoters and elevated histone acetylation were detectable. This study provides strong evidence for a major role of CBP and p300 in orchestrating NKG2D-L induction and consequently immunosurveillance of tumors in mice and humans. These findings might help to develop novel immunotherapeutic approaches against cancer.

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