Malignant melanoma is a major public health issue displaying frequent resistance to targeted therapy and immunotherapy. A major challenge lies in better understanding how melanoma cells evade immune elimination and how tumor growth and metastasis is facilitated by the tumor microenvironment. Here, we show that expression of the cytokine thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) by epidermal keratinocytes is induced by cutaneous melanoma in both mice and humans. Using genetically engineered models of melanoma and tumor cell grafting combined with TSLP-KO or overexpression, we defined a crosstalk between melanoma cells, keratinocytes, and immune cells in establishing a tumor-promoting microenvironment. Keratinocyte-derived TSLP is induced by signals derived from melanoma cells and subsequently acts via immune cells to promote melanoma progression and metastasis. Furthermore, we show that TSLP signals through TSLP receptor–expressing (TSLPR-expressing) DCs to play an unrecognized role in promoting GATA3+ Tregs expressing a gene signature including ST2, CCR8, ICOS, PD-1, CTLA-4, and OX40 and exhibiting a potent suppressive activity on CD8+ T cell proliferation and IFN-γ production. An analogous population of GATA3-expressing Tregs was also identified in human melanoma tumors. Our study provides insights into the role of TSLP in programming a protumoral immune microenvironment in cutaneous melanoma.
Wenjin Yao, Beatriz German, Dounia Chraa, Antoine Braud, Cecile Hugel, Pierre Meyer, Guillaume Davidson, Patrick Laurette, Gabrielle Mengus, Eric Flatter, Pierre Marschall, Justine Segaud, Marine Guivarch, Pierre Hener, Marie-Christine Birling, Dan Lipsker, Irwin Davidson, Mei Li