SLAMF7 is critical for phagocytosis of haematopoietic tumour cells via Mac-1 integrin

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Abstract

Cancer cells elude anti-tumour immunity through multiple mechanisms, including upregulated expression of ligands for inhibitory immune checkpoint receptors1,2. Phagocytosis by macrophages plays a critical role in cancer control3,4,5,6. Therapeutic blockade of signal regulatory protein (SIRP)-α, an inhibitory receptor on macrophages, or of its ligand CD47 expressed on tumour cells, improves tumour cell eliminationin vitroandin vivo7,8,9,10, suggesting that blockade of the SIRPα-CD47 checkpoint could be useful in treating human cancer11,12,13,14. However, the pro-phagocytic receptor(s) responsible for tumour cell phagocytosis is(are) largely unknown. Here we find that macrophages are much more efficient at phagocytosis of haematopoietic tumour cells, compared with non-haematopoietic tumour cells, in response to SIRPα-CD47 blockade. Using a mouse lacking the signalling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM) family of homotypic haematopoietic cell-specific receptors, we determined that phagocytosis of haematopoietic tumour cells during SIRPα-CD47 blockade was strictly dependent on SLAM family receptorsin vitroandin vivo. In both mouse and human cells, this function required a single SLAM family member, SLAMF7 (also known as CRACC, CS1, CD319), expressed on macrophages and tumour cell targets. In contrast to most SLAM receptor functions15,16,17, SLAMF7-mediated phagocytosis was independent of signalling lymphocyte activation molecule-associated protein (SAP) adaptors. Instead, it depended on the ability of SLAMF7 to interact with integrin Mac-1 (refs18, 19, 20) and utilize signals involving immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motifs21,22. These findings elucidate the mechanism by which macrophages engulf and destroy haematopoietic tumour cells. They also reveal a novel SAP adaptor-independent function for a SLAM receptor. Lastly, they suggest that patients with tumours expressing SLAMF7 are more likely to respond to SIRPα-CD47 blockade therapy.

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