Checkpoint inhibition through small molecule-induced internalization of programmed death-ligand 1
Programmed death-ligand 1 is a glycoprotein expressed on antigen presenting cells, hepatocytes, and tumors which upon interaction with programmed death-1, results in inhibition of antigen-specific T cell responses. Here, we report a mechanism of inhibiting programmed death-ligand 1 through small molecule-induced dimerization and internalization. This represents a mechanism of checkpoint inhibition, which differentiates from anti-programmed death-ligand 1 antibodies which function through molecular disruption of the programmed death 1 interaction. Testing of programmed death ligand 1 small molecule inhibition in a humanized mouse model of colorectal cancer results in a significant reduction in tumor size and promotes T cell proliferation. In addition, antigen-specific T and B cell responses from patients with chronic hepatitis B infection are significantly elevated upon programmed death ligand 1 small molecule inhibitor treatment. Taken together, these data identify a mechanism of small molecule-induced programmed death ligand 1 internalization with potential therapeutic implications in oncology and chronic viral infections.