It is unclear whether PD-L1 on tumor cells is sufficient for tumor immune evasion or simply correlates with an inflamed tumor microenvironment. We used three mouse tumor models sensitive to PD-1 blockade to evaluate the significance of PD-L1 on tumor versus nontumor cells. PD-L1 on nontumor cells is critical for inhibiting antitumor immunity in B16 melanoma and a genetically engineered melanoma. In contrast, PD-L1 on MC38 colorectal adenocarcinoma cells is sufficient to suppress antitumor immunity, as deletion of PD-L1 on highly immunogenic MC38 tumor cells allows effective antitumor immunity. MC38-derived PD-L1 potently inhibited CD8+ T cell cytotoxicity. Wild-type MC38 cells outcompeted PD-L1–deleted MC38 cells in vivo, demonstrating tumor PD-L1 confers a selective advantage. Thus, both tumor- and host-derived PD-L1 can play critical roles in immunosuppression. Differences in tumor immunogenicity appear to underlie their relative importance. Our findings establish reduced cytotoxicity as a key mechanism by which tumor PD-L1 suppresses antitumor immunity and demonstrate that tumor PD-L1 is not just a marker of suppressed antitumor immunity.
- Submitted: 30 May 2016
- Revision received 12 December 2016
- Accepted: 14 February 2017
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