[Impact of targeting the autophagy related gene Beclin 1 on the immune landscape of melanoma]. (Doctoral thesis)
Immune Checkpoint Blockades (ICBs)-based immunotherapy has emerged as a promising treatment for melanoma patients; however only a small subset of patients reaps a long term benefit. One of the major challenges to enhance the efficacy and extend the benefit of ICBs to non-responder patients is to design innovative approaches allowing the switch of immune desert cold tumors to immune infiltrated hot tumors" which are eligible for ICB-based therapies. Here, we investigated the impact of targeting the early autophagy gene Beclin1 on the immune landscape of B16-F10 melanoma tumors. We found that targeting Beclin1 (Becn1-) significantly inhibited B16-F10 tumor growth and increased the infiltration of CD45+ leukocytes into the tumor bed. Immune phenotyping revealed an increased infiltration of active Natural Killer (NK) cells, inflammatory and resident type 1 macrophages, dendritic cells, and active CD8+ T lymphocytes. The inhibition of Becn1- tumor growth was no longer observed by depleting host CD8+ T cells, thus highlighting their major role in the control of Becn1- B16-F10 tumor development. We showed that Beclin1-dependent regulation of the immune landscape was associated with profound modulation of the cytokine/chemokine network in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Importantly, we revealed that Becn1- tumors displayed an inflammatory cytokine signature (comprised, but not restricted to, CCL5, CXCL10 and IFNg) that could be responsible for the switch from cold non T-inflamed to hot T-inflamed tumors. Mechanistically, we reported that the overexpression of IFNg in Becn1- TME was responsible for the induction of Programed Death ligand-1 (PD-L1) on tumor cells through the activation of JAK/STATs pathway. Overall, this study highlights Beclin1 as a valuable target, able to drive immune effectors cells into the melanoma tumors by inducing an inflammatory signature. This study provides the proof of concept for combining drugs inhibiting early autophagy process along with ICBs as a cutting-edge approach to improve their efficacy.