Extracellular matrix modulates T cell clearance of malignant cells in vitro

Claire Robertson, Aimy Sebastian, Aubree Hinckley, Naiomy D. Rios-Arce, William F. Hynes, Skye A. Edwards, Wei He, Nicholas R. Hum, Elizabeth K. Wheeler, Gabriela G. Loots, Matthew A. Coleman, Monica L. Moya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Despite the success of T cell checkpoint therapies, breast cancers rarely express these immunotherapy markers and are believed to be largely “immune cold” with limited inflammation and immune activation. The reason for this limited immune activation remains poorly understood. We sought to determine whether extracellular matrix substrate could contribute to this limited immune activation. Specifically, we asked whether extracellular matrix could alter T cell cytotoxicity against malignant mammary gland carcinoma cells (MCC) in a setup designed to promote maximal T cell efficacy (i.e., rich media with abundant IL2, high ratio of T cells to MCC). We observed that T cell clearance of MCC varied from 0% in collagen 4 or 6 conditions to almost 100% in fibronectin or vitronectin. Transcriptomics revealed that T cell function was defective in MCC/T cell cocultures on collagen 4 (Col4), potentially corresponding to greater expression of cytokines MCC cultured in this environment. In contrast, transcriptomics revealed an effective, exhausted phenotype on vitronectin. The observation that Col4 induces T cell suppression suggests that targeting tumor-ECM interactions may permit new approaches for utilizing immunotherapy in tumors which do not provoke a strong immune response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number121378
StatePublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Collagen 4
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials


Dive into the research topics of 'Extracellular matrix modulates T cell clearance of malignant cells in vitro'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this