SOX11, CD70 and Treg cells configure the tumor immune microenvironment of aggressive mantle cell lymphoma.

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Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a mature B-cell neoplasm with a heterogeneous clinical and biological behavior. SOX11 oncogenic expression contributes to the aggressiveness of these tumors by different mechanisms including tumor and stromal cell interactions. However, the precise composition of the immune cell microenvironment of MCL, its possible relationship to SOX11 expression, and how it may contribute to tumor behavior is not well known. Here, we performed an integrative transcriptome analysis of 730 immune-related genes combined with the immune cell phenotype analysis by immunohistochemistry in SOX11+ and SOX11- primary nodal MCL cases and non-neoplastic reactive lymph nodes (RLN). SOX11+ MCL had a significant lower T-cell intratumoral infiltration compared to negative cases. A reduced expression of MHCI/II-like and T-cell costimulation and signaling activation related transcripts was significantly associated with poor clinical outcome. Moreover, we identified CD70 as a SOX11 direct target gene, whose overexpression was induced in SOX11+ but not SOX11- tumor cells by CD40L in vitro. CD70 was overexpressed in primary SOX11+ MCL and it was associated with an immune unbalance of the tumor microenvironment characterized by increased number of effector Treg cell infiltration, higher proliferation, and aggressive clinical course. CD27 was expressed with moderate to strong intensity in 76% of cases. Overall, our results suggest that SOX11 expression in MCL is associated with an immunosuppressive microenvironment characterized by CD70 overexpression in tumor cells, increased Treg cell infiltration and downmodulation of antigen-processing and -presentation and T-cell activation that could promote MCL progression and represent a potential target for tailored therapies.

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Authors: Patricia Balsas, Luis Veloza, Guillem Clot, Marta Sureda-Gómez, Marta-Leonor Rodriguez, Christos Masaoutis, Gerard Frigola, Alba Navarro, Silvia Beà, Ferran Nadeu, Eva Gine, Armando López-Guillermo, Antonio Martinez, Inmaculada Ribera-Cortada, Pablo Engel, Leticia Quintanilla-Martinez, Wolfram Klapper, Elias Campo, Virginia Amador