The transcription factor IRF4 determines the anti-tumor immunity of CD8+ T cells

Hui Yan, Yulin Dai, Xiaolong Zhang, Hedong Zhang, Xiang Xiao, Jinfei Fu, Dawei Zou, Anze Yu, Tao Jiang, Xian C. Li, Zhongming Zhao, Wenhao Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Understanding the factors that regulate T cell infiltration and functional states in solid tumors is crucial for advancing cancer immunotherapies. Here, we discovered that the expression of interferon regulatory factor 4 (IRF4) was a critical T cell intrinsic requirement for effective anti-tumor immunity. Mice with T-cell-specific ablation of IRF4 showed significantly reduced T cell tumor infiltration and function, resulting in accelerated growth of subcutaneous syngeneic tumors and allowing the growth of allogeneic tumors. Additionally, engineered overexpression of IRF4 in anti-tumor CD8+ T cells that were adoptively transferred significantly promoted their tumor infiltration and transition from a naive/memory-like cell state into effector T cell states. As a result, IRF4-engineered anti-tumor T cells exhibited significantly improved anti-tumor efficacy, and inhibited tumor growth either alone or in combination with PD-L1 blockade. These findings identify IRF4 as a crucial cell-intrinsic driver of T cell infiltration and function in tumors, emphasizing the potential of IRF4-engineering as an immunotherapeutic approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108087
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 17 2023


  • Cancer
  • Cell biology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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