The roles of macrophages in orchestrating innate immunity through phagocytosis and T lymphocyte activation have been extensively investigated. Much less understood is the unexpected role of macrophages in direct tumor regression. Tumoricidal macrophages can indeed manifest cancer immunoediting activity in the absence of adaptive immunity. We investigated direct macrophage cytotoxicity in malignant pleural mesothelioma, a lethal cancer that develops from mesothelial cells of the pleural cavity after occupational asbestos exposure. In particular, we analyzed the cytotoxic activity of mouse RAW264.7 macrophages upon cell-cell contact with autologous AB1/AB12 mesothelioma cells. We show that macrophages killed mesothelioma cells by oxeiptosis via a mechanism involving enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2), a histone H3 lysine 27–specific (H3K27-specific) methyltransferase of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). A selective inhibitor of EZH2 indeed impaired RAW264.7-directed cytotoxicity and concomitantly stimulated the PD-1 immune checkpoint. In the immunocompetent BALB/c model, RAW264.7 macrophages pretreated with the EZH2 inhibitor failed to control tumor growth of AB1 and AB12 mesothelioma cells. Blockade of PD-1 engagement restored macrophage-dependent antitumor activity. We conclude that macrophages can be directly cytotoxic for mesothelioma cells independent of phagocytosis. Inhibition of the PRC2 EZH2 methyltransferase reduces this activity because of PD-1 overexpression. Combination of PD-1 blockade and EZH2 inhibition restores macrophage cytotoxicity.
Malik Hamaidia, Hélène Gazon, Clotilde Hoyos, Gabriela Brunsting Hoffmann, Renaud Louis, Bernard Duysinx, Luc Willems