Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL) is an aggressive peripheral T-cell lymphoma driven by a pool of neoplastic cells originating from T follicular helper (Tfh) cells and concomitant expansion of B cells. Conventional chemotherapies for AITL have shown limited efficacy, and as such, there is a need for improved therapeutic options. Because AITL originates from Tfh cells, we hypothesized that AITL tumors continue to rely on essential Tfh components and intimate T-cell-B-cell (T-B) interactions. Using a spontaneous AITL mouse model (Roquinsan/+ mice), we found that acute loss of Bcl6 activity in growing tumors drastically reduced tumor size, demonstrating that AITL-like tumors critically depend on the Tfh lineage-defining transcription factor Bcl6. Because Bcl6 can upregulate expression of signaling lymphocytic activation molecule-associated protein (SAP), which is known to promote T-B conjugation, we next targeted the SAP-encoding Sh2d1a gene. We observed that Sh2d1a deletion from CD4+ T cells in fully developed tumors also led to tumor regression. Further, we provide evidence that tumor progression depends on T-B cross talk facilitated by SAP and high-affinity LFA-1. In our study, AITL-like tumors relied heavily on molecular pathways that support Tfh cell identity and T-B collaboration, revealing potential therapeutic targets for AITL.
© 2020 by The American Society of Hematology.