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Resistance to immunotherapy is due in some instances to the acquired stealth mechanisms of tumor cells that lose expression of MHC class I antigen–presenting molecules or downregulate their class I antigen–presentation pathways. Most dramatically, biallelic β2-microglobulin (B2M) loss leads to complete loss of MHC class I expression and to invisibility to CD8+ T cells. MHC class I expression and antigen presentation are potently upregulated by interferon-γ (IFNγ) in a manner that depends on IFNγ receptor (IFNGR) signaling via JAK1 and JAK2. Mutations in these molecules lead to IFNγ unresponsiveness and mediate loss of recognition and killing by cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Loss of MHC class I augments sensitivity of tumor cells to be killed by natural killer (NK) lymphocytes, and this mechanism could be exploited to revert resistance, for instance, with interleukin-2 (IL-2)-based agents. Moreover, in some experimental models,potent local type I interferon responses, such as those following intratumoral injection of Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) or TLR3 agonists, revert resistance due to mutations of JAKs.

Original publication




Journal article


Annual Review of Cancer Biology


Annual Reviews

Publication Date





85 - 102