Autocrine LTA signaling drives NF-κB and JAK-STAT activity and myeloid gene expression in Hodgkin lymphoma

Linda von Hoff, Eva Kärgel, Vedran Franke, Erik McShane, Kathrin W. Schulz-Beiss, Giannino Patone, Nikolai Schleussner, Marina Kolesnichenko, Norbert Hübner, Oliver Daumke, Matthias Selbach, Altuna Akalin, Stephan Mathas and Claus Scheidereit


Persistent NF-κB activation is a hallmark of the malignant Hodgkin/Reed-Sternberg (HRS) cells in classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL). Genomic lesions, Epstein-Barr virus infection, soluble factors and tumor-microenvironment interactions contribute to this activation. Here, in an unbiased approach to identify the cHL cell-secreted key factors for NF-κB activation, we have dissected the secretome of cultured cHL cells by chromatography and subsequent mass spectrometry. We identified lymphotoxin-α (LTA) as the causative factor for autocrine and paracrine activation of canonical and non-canonical NF-κB in cHL cell lines. Apart from inducing NF-κB, LTA promotes JAK2/STAT6 signaling. LTA and its receptor TNFRSF14 are transcriptionally activated by non-canonical NF-κB, creating a continuous feedback loop. Furthermore, LTA shapes the expression of cytokines, receptors, immune checkpoint ligands and adhesion molecules, including CSF2, CD40, PD-L1/-L2 and VCAM1. Comparison with single cell gene-activity profiles of human hematopoietic cells showed that LTA not only induces genes restricted to the lymphoid but also largely to the myeloid lineage. Thus, LTA sustains autocrine NF-κB activation, impacts activation of several signaling pathways and drives expression of genes essential for microenvironmental interactions and lineage ambiguity. These data provide a robust rationale for LTA-targeting as a treatment strategy for cHL patients.

  • Submitted August 22, 2018.
  • Accepted January 22, 2019.