TBX21 Methylation as a Potential Regulator of Immune Suppression in CMS1 Subtype Colorectal Cancer

Yuanyuan Shen, Yulia I. Nussbaum, Yariswamy Manjunath, Justin J. Hummel, Matthew A. Ciorba, Wesley C. Warren, Jussuf T. Kaifi, Christos Papageorgiou, Rene Cortese, Chi Ren Shyu, Jonathan B. Mitchem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) infiltration is associated with survival, recurrence, and therapeutic response in colorectal cancer (CRC). Immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) therapy, which requires CTLs for response, does not work for most CRC patients. Therefore, it is critical to improve our understanding of immune resistance in this disease. We utilized 2391 CRC patients and 7 omics datasets, integrating clinical and genomic data to determine how DNA methylation may impact survival and CTL function in CRC. Using comprehensive molecular subtype (CMS) 1 patients as reference, we found TBX21 to be the only gene with altered expression and methylation that was associated with CTL infiltration. We found that CMS1 patients with high TBX21 expression and low methylation had a significant survival advantage. To confirm the role of Tbx21 in CTL function, we utilized scRNAseq data, demonstrating the association of TBX21 with markers of enhanced CTL function. Further analysis using pathway enrichment found that the genes TBX21, MX1, and SP140 had altered expression and methylation, suggesting that the TP53/P53 pathway may modify TBX21 methylation to upregulate TBX21 expression. Together, this suggests that targeting epigenetic modification more specifically for therapy and patient stratification may provide improved outcomes in CRC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4594
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • CD8+ T
  • TBX21
  • TCGA
  • colorectal cancer
  • consensus molecular subtypes
  • epigenetic
  • scRNAseq


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