Cancer immunoediting drives the adaptation of tumor cells to host immune surveillance. Previously, we have demonstrated that immunoediting driven by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) enriches NANOG+ tumor cells with immune-refractory properties. Here, we found that CTL-mediated immune pressure triggered cross-resistance of tumor cells to the complement system, a part of the innate immune system. In this process, NANOG upregulated the membrane-bound complement regulatory protein (mCRP) CD59 through promoter occupancy, thereby contributing to the resistance of tumor cells against complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC). Notably, targeting of NANOG sensitized the immune-refractory tumor cells to trastuzumab-mediated CDC. Collectively, our results revealed a possible mechanism through which selection imposed by T-cell based immunotherapy triggered complement-resistant phenotypes in the tumor microenvironment (TME), by establishing a firm molecular link between NANOG and CD59 in immune-edited tumor cells. We believe these results hold important implications for the clinical application of CDC-mediated therapeutic antibody.
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