Loss of the HVEM Tumor Suppressor in Lymphoma and Restoration by Modified CAR-T Cells
Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Member 14
Tumor Suppressor Proteins
The HVEM (TNFRSF14) receptor gene is among the most frequently mutated genes in germinal center lymphomas. We report that loss of HVEM leads to cell-autonomous activation of B cell proliferation and drives the development of GC lymphomas in vivo. HVEM-deficient lymphoma B cells also induce a tumor-supportive microenvironment marked by exacerbated lymphoid stroma activation and increased recruitment of T follicular helper (TFH) cells. These changes result from the disruption of inhibitory cell-cell interactions between the HVEM and BTLA (B and T lymphocyte attenuator) receptors. Accordingly, administration of the HVEM ectodomain protein (solHVEM((P37-V202))) binds BTLA and restores tumor suppression. To deliver solHVEM to lymphomas in vivo, we engineered CD19-targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells that produce solHVEM locally and continuously. These modified CAR-T cells show enhanced therapeutic activity against xenografted lymphomas. Hence, the HVEM-BTLA axis opposes lymphoma development, and our study illustrates the use of CAR-T cells as "micro-pharmacies" able to deliver an anti-cancer protein.