Inhibition of DCLK1 with DCLK1-in-1 suppresses renal cell carcinoma invasion and stemness and promotes cytotoxic T-cell-mediated anti-tumor immunity

Ling Ding, Yuning Yang, Yang Ge, Qin Lu, Zixing Yan, Xuzheng Chen, Jian Du, Sassan Hafizi, Xiaohui Xu, Jiannan Yao, Jian Liu, Zhiyun Cao*, Nathaniel Weygant

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

The approval of immune checkpoint inhibitors has expanded treatment options for renal cell carcinoma (RCC), but new therapies that target RCC stemness and promote anti-tumor immunity are needed. Previous findings demonstrate that doublecortin-like kinase 1 (DCLK1) regulates stemness and is associated with RCC disease progression. Herein, we demonstrate that small-molecule kinase inhibitor DCLK1-IN-1 strongly inhibits DCLK1 phosphorylation and downregulates pluripotency factors and cancer stem cell (CSC) or epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-associated markers including c-MET, c-MYC, and N-Cadherin in RCC cell lines. Functionally, DCLK1-IN-1 treatment resulted in significantly reduced colony formation, migration, and invasion. Additionally, assays using floating or Matrigel spheroid protocols demonstrated potent inhibition of stemness. An analysis of clinical populations showed that DCLK1 predicts RCC survival and that its expression is correlated with reduced CD8+ cytotoxic T-cell infiltration and increases in M2 immunosuppressive macrophage populations. The treatment of RCC cells with DCLK1-IN-1 significantly reduced the expression of immune checkpoint ligand PD-L1, and co-culture assays using peripheral blood monocytes (PBMCs) or T-cell expanded PBMCs demonstrated a significant increase in immune-mediated cytotoxicity alone or in combination with anti-PD1 therapy. Together, these findings demonstrate broad susceptibility to DCLK1 kinase inhibition in RCC using DCLK1-IN-1 and provide the first direct evidence for DCLK1-IN-1 as an immuno-oncology agent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5729
Number of pages19
JournalCancers
Volume13
Issue number22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • combination therapy
  • CSC
  • DCLK1
  • DCLK1-IN-1
  • ICI
  • immune checkpoint inhibitor
  • immunotherapy
  • kinase inhibitor
  • PD-L1
  • renal cell carcinoma

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