We have shown that KRAS–TP53 genomic coalteration is associated with immune-excluded microenvironments, chemoresistance, and poor survival in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) patients. By treating KRAS–TP53 cooperativity as a model for high-risk biology, we now identify cell-autonomous Cxcl1 as a key mediator of spatial T-cell restriction via interactions with CXCR2+ neutrophilic myeloid-derived suppressor cells in human PDAC using imaging mass cytometry. Silencing of cell-intrinsic Cxcl1 in LSL-KrasG12D/+;Trp53R172H/+;Pdx-1Cre/+(KPC) cells reprograms the trafficking and functional dynamics of neutrophils to overcome T-cell exclusion and controls tumor growth in a T cell–dependent manner. Mechanistically, neutrophil-derived TNF is a central regulator of this immunologic rewiring, instigating feed-forward Cxcl1 overproduction from tumor cells and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF), T-cell dysfunction, and inflammatory CAF polarization via transmembrane TNF–TNFR2 interactions. TNFR2 inhibition disrupts this circuitry and improves sensitivity to chemotherapy in vivo. Our results uncover cancer cell–neutrophil cross-talk in which context-dependent TNF signaling amplifies stromal inflammation and immune tolerance to promote therapeutic resistance in PDAC.
By decoding connections between high-risk tumor genotypes, cell-autonomous inflammatory programs, and myeloid-enriched/T cell–excluded contexts, we identify a novel role for neutrophil-derived TNF in sustaining immunosuppression and stromal inflammation in pancreatic tumor microenvironments. This work offers a conceptual framework by which targeting context-dependent TNF signaling may overcome hallmarks of chemoresistance in pancreatic cancer.
This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 1275