Calcium/Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Kinase 2 (CaMKK2) Regulates Dendritic Cells and Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells Development in the Lymphoma Microenvironment
Calcium (Ca2+) is a known important second messenger. Calcium/Calmodulin (CaM) dependent protein kinase kinase 2 (CaMKK2) is a crucial kinase in the calcium signaling cascade. Activated by Ca2+/CaM, CaMKK2 can phosphorylate other CaM kinases and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) to regulate cell differentiation, energy balance, metabolism and inflammation. Outside of the brain, CaMKK2 can only be detected in hematopoietic stem cells and progenitors, and in the subsets of mature myeloid cells. CaMKK2 has been noted to facilitate tumor cell proliferation in prostate cancer, breast cancer, and hepatic cancer. However, whethter CaMKK2 impacts the tumor microenvironment especially in hematopoietic malignancies remains unknown. Due to the relevance of myeloid cells in tumor growth, we hypothesized that CaMKK2 has a critical role in the tumor microenvironment, and tested this hyopothesis in murine models of hematological and solid cancer malignancies.
We found that CaMKK2 ablation in the host suppressed the growth of E.G7 murine lymphoma, Vk*Myc myeloma and E0771 mammary cancer. The selective ablation of CaMKK2 in myeloid cells was sufficient to restrain tumor growth, of which could be reversed by CD8 cell depletion. In the lymphoma microenvironment, ablating CaMKK2 generated less myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, CaMKK2 deficient dendritic cells showed higher Major Histocompatibility Class II (MHC II) and costimulatory factor expression, higher chemokine and IL-12 secretion when stimulated by LPS, and have higher potent in stimulating T-cell activation. AMPK, an anti-inflammatory kinase, was found as the relevant downstream target of CaMKK2 in dendritic cells. Treatment with CaMKK2 selective inhibitor STO-609 efficiently suppressed E.G7 and E0771 tumor growth, and reshaped the tumor microenvironment by attracting more immunogenic myeloid cells and infiltrated T cells.
In conclusion, we demonstrate that CaMKK2 expressed in myeloid cells is an important checkpoint in tumor microenvironment. Ablating CaMKK2 suppresses lymphoma growth by promoting myeloid cells development thereby decreasing MDSCs while enhancing the anti-tumor immune response. CaMKK2 inhibition is an innovative strategy for cancer therapy through reprogramming the tumor microenvironment.
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