Expression of immune checkpoint ligands (ICLs) is necessary to trigger the inhibitory signal via immune checkpoint receptors (ICRs) in exhausted T cells under tumor immune microenvironment. Nevertheless,to our knowledge, ICL expression profile in cancer patients has not been investigated. Using previously reported RNA-seq data sets, we found that expression of ICLs was patient specific but their coexpression can be patterned in non–small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs). Since the expression of PD-L1 and poliovirus receptor (PVR) among various ICLs was independently regulated, we could stratify the patients who were treated with anti–PD-1 later into 4 groups according to the expression level of PD-L1 and PVR. Of interest, high PVR and low PVR expressions in PDL1–expressing patients enriched nonresponders and responders to PD-1 blockade, respectively, helping in further selection of responders. Using a genetically engineered cancer model, we also found that PVR-deficient and PD-L1–sufficient tumor-bearing mice were highly sensitive to anti–PD-1 therapy, whereas PVR-sufficient and PD-L1–deficient tumor-bearing mice were resistant to anti–PD-1 therapy. Taken together, our study provides a concept that combinatorial expression patterns of PVR and PD-L1 are key determinants for PD-1 blockade and furthermore suggest a better therapeutic usage of immune checkpoint blockades (ICBs).
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