PCs expression in T cells and effect of PC inhibition on PD-1 expression, T cell signaling, survival and cytotoxicity.
ARTICLE ABSTRACTProprotein convertases (PC) activate precursor proteins that play crucial roles in various cancers. In this study, we investigated whether PC enzyme activity is required for expression of the checkpoint protein programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) on cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) in colon cancer. Although altered expression of the PC secretory pathway was observed in human colon cancers, only furin showed highly diffuse expression throughout the tumors. Inhibition of PCs in T cells using the general protein-based inhibitor α1-PDX or the pharmacologic inhibitor Decanoyl-Arg-Val-Lys-Arg-chloromethylketone repressed PD-1 and exhausted CTLs via induction of T-cell proliferation and apoptosis inhibition, which improved CTL efficacy against microsatellite instable and microsatellite stable colon cancer cells. In vivo, inhibition of PCs enhanced CTL infiltration in colorectal tumors and increased tumor clearance in syngeneic mice compared with immunodeficient mice. Inhibition of PCs repressed PD-1 expression by blocking proteolytic maturation of the Notch precursor, inhibiting calcium/NFAT and NF-κB signaling, and enhancing ERK activation. These findings define a key role for PCs in regulating PD-1 expression and suggest targeting PCs as an adjunct approach to colorectal tumor immunotherapy.
Protein convertase enzymatic activity is required for PD-1 expression on T cells, and inhibition of protein convertase improves T-cell targeting of microsatellite instable and stable colorectal cancer.