Basic leucine zipper transcription factor ATF-like (BATF) belongs to the activator protein 1 (AP-1) family of transcription factors and has been shown to be predominantly expressed in cells of hematopoietic origin, especially in T cells. Mice deficient for BATF were first described to lack T helper cell type 17 (Th17). Th17 cells are a distinct lineage of CD4+ T helper cells that provide protective immunity to infections but are also involved in chronic inflammation and autoimmunity. However, the role of Th17 response in prostate cancer remains controversial. In this study, we took a genetic approach to explore the role of BATF-dependent Th17 cells in prostate cancers by interbreeding BATF-deficient (Batf-/-) mice with mice that are conditionally mutant for PTEN, an established preclinical model for prostate cancer. Batf+/+;Pten-/- and Batf+/-;Pten-/- mice presented similar prostate phenotypes thus were put into one group (named Batf+), which were compared to the Batf-/-;Pten-/- group (named Batf-). We found that Batf- prostates were clearly smaller than Batf+ prostates at 30 weeks. The genitourinary bloc weight was significantly heavier in Batf+ mice than in Batf- mice at 12 and 30 weeks. Batf+ mice developed significantly higher percent of invasive adenocarcinomas in different prostate lobes at 9, 12, and 30 weeks, respectively compared to Batf- mice. Tumors in Batf- mice exhibited lower rates of cellular proliferation and higher apoptosis, as well as reduced inflammatory cell infiltration and angiogenesis in the prostatic stroma. Moreover, Batf- mice exhibited significantly reduced mRNA and protein levels of Th17 cytokines, AP-1 family members and IL-23R, and reduced NF-kB pathway activity in both spleen and prostate tissues. CD4+ T cells from Batf- mice cultured under Th17 conditions for 4 days, expressed reduced AP-1 family-regulated genes compared to Batf+ mice. Prostate cancer cells (LNCaP) with overexpression of BATF in vitro exhibited increased IL-23R expression. Prostate tissues from Batf- mice cultured under IL-6 or Th17 conditions for 4 days had reduced IL-23R expression compared to that from Batf+ mice. Taken together, our results suggest that Batf promotes the initiation and progression of prostate adenocarcinoma via Th17-mediated inflammatory immune responses and that the Batf-IL-23-IL-17 axis is a critical pathway that is needed for prostate adenocarcinoma development and progression.

This work was supported by the NIH-National Institute of General Medical Sciences COBRE on Aging and Regenerative Medicine (P20GM103629, PD: S. Michal Jazwinski; PI: Q.Z.) and the Carol Lavin Bernick Faculty Grant from Tulane University (PI: Q.Z.).

Citation Format: Qiuyang Zhang, Sen Liu, Bing Zhang. Role of Batf-dependant Th17 immune response in PTEN-null mouse model [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2021; 2021 Apr 10-15 and May 17-21. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2021;81(13_Suppl):Abstract nr 1760.