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EMAP-II-dependent lymphocyte killing is associated with hypoxia in colorectal cancer

Nature Publishing Group
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6603299
  • Molecular Diagnostics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry


Endothelial-monocyte-activating polypeptide-II (EMAP-II) is a novel multifunctional polypeptide with proinflammatory activity. We have previously shown that the recombinant and native forms of EMAP-II can induce apoptosis in mitogen-stimulated lymphocytes, and that the release of this protein into the extracellular milieu is enhanced by hypoxia. We hypothesised that hypoxia may lead to death of tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) via an EMAP-II-dependent mechanism, thereby assisting tumours to evade the immune system. In this study, we used immunohistochemistry to detect EMAP-II, active caspase-3 and cleaved Poly (ADP-ribose) Polymerase (PARP) as indicators of apoptosis in TILs, and carbonic anhydrase IX (CA IX) as a surrogate marker of hypoxia. EMAP-II expression is associated with regions of hypoxia, and furthermore there is a significant association between TILs apoptosis and the presence of hypoxia. Using a coculture model of colorectal cancer cell/lymphocyte interactions, we were also able to demonstrate lymphocyte apoptosis induced by tumour cells, with concomitant caspase-3 activity. Lymphocyte killing was enhanced by direct cell–cell contact, particularly by tumour cells exposed to hypoxic conditions. Our data support the hypothesis that hypoxia plays a role in immune evasion by tumour cells, through EMAP-II-dependent lymphocyte killing.

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