Cancers (Basel). 2020 Oct 15;12(10):E2991. doi: 10.3390/cancers12102991.
Killer-cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) are expressed by natural killer (NK) and effector T cells. Although KIR+ T cells accumulate in oncologic patients, their role in cancer immune response remains elusive. This study explored the role of KIR+CD8+ T cells in cancer immunosurveillance by analyzing their frequency at diagnosis in the blood of 249 patients (80 melanomas, 80 bladder cancers, and 89 ovarian cancers), their relationship with overall survival (OS) of patients, and their gene
expression profiles. KIR2DL1+ CD8+ T cells expanded in the presence of HLA-C2-ligands in patients who survived, but it did not in patients who died. In contrast, presence of HLA-C1-ligands was associated with dose-dependent expansions of KIR2DL2/S2+ CD8+ T cells and with shorter OS. KIR interactions with their specific ligands profoundly impacted CD8+ T cell expression profiles, involving multiple signaling pathways, effector functions, the secretome, and consequently, the cellular microenvironment, which could impact their cancer immunosurveillance capacities. KIR2DL1/S1+ CD8+ T cells showed a gene expression signature related to efficient tumor immunosurveillance, whereas KIR2DL2/L3/S2+CD8+ T cells showed transcriptomic profiles related to suppressive anti-tumor responses. These results could be the basis for the discovery of new therapeutic targets so that the outcome of patients with cancer can be improved.