The detection of aberrant cells by natural killer (NK) cells is controlled by the integration of signals from activating and inhibitory ligands and from cytokines such as IL-15. We identified cytokine-inducible SH2-containing protein (CIS, encoded by Cish) as a critical negative regulator of IL-15 signaling in NK cells. Cish was rapidly induced in response to IL-15, and deletion of Cish rendered NK cells hypersensitive to IL-15, as evidenced by enhanced proliferation, survival, IFN-gamma production and cytotoxicity toward tumors. This was associated with increased JAK-STAT signaling in NK cells in which Cish was deleted. Correspondingly, CIS interacted with the tyrosine kinase JAK1, inhibiting its enzymatic activity and targeting JAK for proteasomal degradation. Cish-/- mice were resistant to melanoma, prostate and breast cancer metastasis in vivo, and this was intrinsic to NK cell activity. Our data uncover a potent intracellular checkpoint in NK cell-mediated tumor immunity and suggest possibilities for new cancer immunotherapies directed at blocking CIS function.
Molecular Immunology; Inflammation; Systems Biology and Personalised Medicine; Bioinformatics; Cancer and Haematology; Molecular Genetics of Cancer; Structural Biology; Chemical Biology