An unexpected role for p53 in regulating cancer cell–intrinsic PD-1 by acetylation
Cancer cell–intrinsic programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) has emerged as a tumor regulator in an immunity-independent manner, but its precise role in modulating tumor behaviors is complex, and how PD-1 is regulated in cancer cells is largely unknown. Here, we identified PD-1 as a direct target of tumor suppressor p53. Notably, p53 acetylation at K120/164 played a critical role in p53-mediated PD-1 transcription. Acetylated p53 preferentially recruited acetyltransferase cofactors onto PD-1 promoter, selectively facilitating PD-1 transcription by enhancing local chromatin acetylation. Reexpression of PD-1 in cancer cells inhibited tumor growth, whereas depletion of cancer cell–intrinsic PD-1 compromised p53-dependent tumor suppression. Moreover, histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) activated PD-1 in an acetylated p53–dependent manner, supporting a synergistic effect by HDACi and p53 on tumor suppression via stimulating cancer cell–intrinsic PD-1. Our study reveals a mechanism for activating cancer cell–intrinsic PD-1 and indicates that p53-mediated PD-1 activation is critically involved in tumor suppression in an immunity-independent manner.
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