Loss of Chemerin in Rhabdomyosarcoma Cells Polarizes Adjacent Monocytes to an Immunosuppressive Phenotype
Chemerin is a multifunctional adipokine that regulates adipogenesis, insulin signaling and blood pressure and has thus a central function in metabolism. Mounting evidence confirmed a function of chemerin in various cancers. In this study, we investigated the role of chemerin in rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), an aggressive soft tissue cancer that affects mainly children and young adults. We found chemerin expression in 93.8% (90 of 96) of RMS cases, with a range of 86.7–96.7% for the four RMS subgroups. While chemerin is uniformly expressed in normal skeletal muscle, its expression in RMS is patchy with interspersed areas that are devoid of chemerin. This variable chemerin expression is reflected by RMS cell lines as two of them (Rh41 and Rd18) were found to secrete chemerin while the two other ones (JR1 and RD) were negative. Deletion of chemerin in Rh41 and Rd18 cells did not alter their growth rate or morphology. We investigated the potential influence of chemerin on immune surveillance by coculturing parental and chemerin-deficient RMS cells with resting- or lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated human peripheral monocytes. The absence of chemerin in the RMS cells led to increased expression levels of the coinhibitory molecules PD-L1 and PD-L2 while levels of the costimulatory molecule CD86 were not changed. Further, the absence of chemerin enhanced the secretion of cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10 and TNF) that have been shown to support RMS pathogenesis. These data indicate that the loss of chemerin expression by RMS cells repolarizes monocytes in the tumor microenvironment to supporting tumor progression.