Absence of Grail promotes CD8+ T cell anti-tumour activity

Cara Haymaker, Yi Yang, Junmei Wang, Qiang Zou, Anupama Sahoo, Andrei Alekseev, Divyendu Singh, Krit Ritthipichai, Yared Hailemichael, Oanh N. Hoang, Hong Qin, Kimberly S. Schluns, Tiejun Wang, Willem W. Overwijk, Shao Cong Sun, Chantale Bernatchez, Larry W. Kwak, Sattva S. Neelapu, Roza Nurieva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


T-cell tolerance is a major obstacle to successful cancer immunotherapy; thus, developing strategies to break immune tolerance is a high priority. Here we show that expression of the E3 ubiquitin ligase Grail is upregulated in CD8+ T cells that have infiltrated into transplanted lymphoma tumours, and Grail deficiency confers long-term tumour control. Importantly, therapeutic transfer of Grail-deficient CD8+ T cells is sufficient to repress established tumours. Mechanistically, loss of Grail enhances anti-tumour reactivity and functionality of CD8+ T cells. In addition, Grail-deficient CD8+ T cells have increased IL-21 receptor (IL-21R) expression and hyperresponsiveness to IL-21 signalling as Grail promotes IL-21R ubiquitination and degradation. Moreover, CD8+ T cells isolated from lymphoma patients express higher levels of Grail and lower levels of IL-21R, compared with CD8+ T cells from normal donors. Our data demonstrate that Grail is a crucial factor controlling CD8+ T-cell function and is a potential target to improve cytotoxic T-cell activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number239
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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