Neuropilin-1 (NRP-1) is a co-receptor for semaphorins and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family members that can be expressed on cancer cells and tumor-infiltrating myeloid, endothelial and lymphoid cells. It has been linked to a tumor-promoting environment upon interaction with semaphorin 3A (Sema3A). Nanobodies (Nbs) targeting NRP-1 were generated for their potential to hamper the NRP-1/Sema3A interaction and their impact on colorectal carcinoma (CRC) development was evaluated in vivo through the generation of anti-NRP-1-producing CRC cells. We observed that tumor growth was significantly delayed and survival prolonged when the anti-NRP-1 Nbs were produced in vivo. We further analyzed the tumor microenvironment and observed that the pro-inflammatory MHC-IIhigh/trophic MHC-IIlow macrophage ratio was increased in tumors that produce anti-NRP-1 Nbs. This finding was corroborated by an increase in the expression of genes associated with MHC-IIhigh macrophages and a decrease in the expression of MHC-IIlow macrophage-associated genes in the macrophage pool sorted from anti-NRP-1 Nb-producing tumors. Moreover, we observed a significantly higher percentage of tumor-associated antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in tumors producing anti-NRP-1 Nbs. These data demonstrate that an intratumoral expression of NRP-1/Sema3A blocking biologicals increases anti-tumor immunity.
- immune checkpoint
- single-domain antibody fragment
- tumor-associated macrophage