Persistent STAT5 activation reprograms the epigenetic landscape in CD4+ T cells to drive polyfunctionality and antitumor immunity

Zhi Chun Ding, Huidong Shi, Nada S. Aboelella, Kateryna Fesenkova, Eun Jeong Park, Zhuoqi Liu, Lirong Pei, Jiaqi Li, Richard A. McIndoe, Hongyan Xu, Gary A. Piazza, Bruce R. Blazar, David H. Munn, Gang Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The presence of polyfunctional CD4+ T cells is often associated with favorable antitumor immunity. We report here that persistent activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) in tumor-specific CD4+ T cells drives the development of polyfunctional T cells. We showed that ectopic expression of a constitutively active form of murine STAT5A (CASTAT5) enabled tumor-specific CD4+ T cells to undergo robust expansion, infiltrate tumors vigorously, and elicit antitumor CD8+ T cell responses in a CD4+ T cell adoptive transfer model system. Integrated epigenomic and transcriptomic analysis revealed that CASTAT5 induced genome-wide chromatin remodeling in CD4+ T cells and established a distinct epigenetic and transcriptional landscape. Single-cell RNA sequencing analysis further identified a subset of CASTAT5-transduced CD4+ T cells with a molecular signature indicative of progenitor polyfunctional T cells. The therapeutic significance of CASTAT5 came from our finding that adoptive transfer of T cells engineered to coexpress CD19-targeting chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and CASTAT5 gave rise to polyfunctional CD4+ CAR T cells in a mouse B cell lymphoma model. The optimal therapeutic outcome was obtained when both CD4+ and CD8+ CAR T cells were transduced with CASTAT5, indicating that CASTAT5 facilitates productive CD4 help to CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, we provide evidence that CASTAT5 is functional in primary human CD4+ T cells, underscoring its potential clinical relevance. Our results implicate STAT5 as a valid candidate for T cell engineering to generate polyfunctional, exhaustion-resistant, and tumor-tropic antitumor CD4+ T cells to potentiate adoptive T cell therapy for cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberaba5962
JournalScience immunology
Issue number52
StatePublished - Oct 30 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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