Immunosuppression is a common feature of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) and has been linked to poor overall survival (OS). We hypothesized that upstream factors might negatively influence CD3 levels and T cell activity, thus promoting immunosuppression and worse survival. We used clinical data and patient samples of those who progressed from Barrett’s to dysplasia to EAC, investigated gene (RNA-Seq) and protein (tissue microarray) expression, and performed cell biology studies to delineate a pathway impacting CD3 protein stability that might influence EAC outcome. We showed that the loss of both CD3-ε expression and CD3+ T cell number correlated with worse OS in EAC. The gene related to anergy in lymphocytes isoform 1 (GRAIL1), which is the prominent isoform in EACs, degraded (ε, γ, δ) CD3s and inactivated T cells. In contrast, isoform 2 (GRAIL2), which is reduced in EACs, stabilized CD3s. Further, GRAIL1-mediated CD3 degradation was facilitated by interferon-stimulated gene 15 (ISG15), a ubiquitin-like protein. Consequently, the overexpression of a ligase-dead GRAIL1, ISG15 knockdown, or the overexpression of a conjugation-defective ISG15–leucine-arginine-glycine-glycine mutant could increase CD3 levels. Together, we identified an ISG15/GRAIL1/mutant p53 amplification loop negatively influencing CD3 levels and T cell activity, thus promoting immunosuppression in EAC.


Dyke P. McEwen, Paramita Ray, Derek J. Nancarrow, Zhuwen Wang, Srimathi Kasturirangan, Saeed Abdullah, Ayushi Balan, Rishi Hoskeri, Dafydd Thomas, Theodore S. Lawrence, David G. Beer, Kiran H. Lagisetty, Dipankar Ray


Download this citation for these citation managers:

Or, download this citation in these formats:

If you experience problems using these citation formats, send us feedback.