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Cytotoxic lymphocytes use mechanosurveillance to target biophysical vulnerabilities in cancer

By Maria Tello-Lafoz, Katja Srpan, Jing Hu, Yevgeniy Romin, Annalisa Calò, Katharine C Hsu, Joan Massagué, Morgan Huse, Ekrem Emrah Er

Posted 23 Apr 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.21.054304

Immune cells identify cancer cells by recognizing characteristic biochemical features indicative of oncogenic transformation. Cancer cells have characteristic mechanical features, as well, but whether these biophysical properties also contribute to destruction by the immune system is not known. In the present study, we found that enhanced expression of myocardin related transcription factors (MRTFs), which promote migration and metastatic invasion, paradoxically compromised lung colonization by melanoma and breast carcinoma cells in an immune-mediated manner. Cancer cells with increased MRTF signaling were also more sensitive to immune checkpoint blockade therapy in mice and humans. The basis for this vulnerability was not biochemical, but biophysical. MRTF expression strengthened the actin cytoskeleton, increasing the rigidity of cancer cells and thereby making them more vulnerable to cytotoxic T lymphocytes and natural killer cells. These results reveal a mechanical dimension of immunosurveillance, which we call mechanosurveillance, that is particularly relevant to the targeting of metastatic disease. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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