Targeting purine synthesis in ASS1-expressing tumors enhances the response to immune checkpoint inhibitors

R. Keshet, J.S. Lee, L. Adler, M. Iraqi, Y. Ariav, L.Q.J. Lim, S. Lerner, S. Rabinovich, R. Oren, R. Katzir, H.W. Tishler, N. Stettner, O. Goldman, H. Landesman, S. Galai, Y. Kuperman, Y. Kuznetsov, A. Brandis, T. Mehlman, S. MalitskyM. Itkin, S.E. Koehler, Y.M. Zhao, K. Talsania, T.W. Shen, N. Peled, I. Ulitsky, A. Porgador, E. Ruppin*, A. Erez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Argininosuccinate synthase (ASS1) downregulation in different tumors has been shown to support cell proliferation and yet, in several common cancer subsets ASS1 expression associates with poor patient prognosis. Here we demonstrate that ASS1 expression under glucose deprivation is induced by c-MYC, providing survival benefit by increasing nitric oxide synthesis and activating the gluconeogenic enzymes pyruvate carboxylase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase by S-nitrosylation. The resulting increased flux through gluconeogenesis enhances serine, glycine and subsequently purine synthesis. Notably, high ASS1-expressing breast cancer mice do not respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors and patients with breast cancer with high ASS1 have more metastases. We further find that inhibiting purine synthesis increases pyrimidine to purine ratio, elevates expression of the immunoproteasome and significantly enhances the response of autologous primary CD8(+) T cells to anti-PD-1. These results suggest that treating patients with high-ASS1 cancers with purine synthesis inhibition is beneficial and may also sensitize them to immune checkpoint inhibition therapy. Erez and colleagues demonstrate that increased expression of arginosuccinate synthase under glucose deprivation leads to gluconeogenesis and increased purine synthesis, which when targeted can enhance response to immune checkpoint blockade.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)894-908
Number of pages30
JournalNature Cancer
Volume1
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • activation
  • argininosuccinate synthetase
  • deprivation
  • encyclopedia
  • expression
  • gluconeogenesis
  • liver
  • metabolism
  • s-nitrosylation
  • urea cycle
  • ACTIVATION
  • ARGININOSUCCINATE SYNTHETASE
  • S-NITROSYLATION
  • ENCYCLOPEDIA
  • METABOLISM
  • GLUCONEOGENESIS
  • DEPRIVATION
  • UREA CYCLE
  • LIVER
  • EXPRESSION

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