Protein glycosylation provides proteomic diversity in regulating protein localization, stability, and activity; it remains largely unknown whether the sugar moiety contributes to immunosuppression. In the study of immune receptor glycosylation, we showed that EGF induces programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) and receptor programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) interaction, requiring β-1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyl transferase (B3GNT3) expression in triple-negative breast cancer. Downregulation of B3GNT3 enhances cytotoxic T cell-mediated anti-tumor immunity. A monoclonal antibody targeting glycosylated PD-L1 (gPD-L1) blocks PD-L1/PD-1 interaction and promotes PD-L1 internalization and degradation. In addition to immune reactivation, drug-conjugated gPD-L1 antibody induces a potent cell-killing effect as well as a bystander-killing effect on adjacent cancer cells lacking PD-L1 expression without any detectable toxicity. Our work suggests targeting protein glycosylation as a potential strategy to enhance immune checkpoint therapy.
Keywords: B3GNT3; PD-1; PD-L1; TNBC; antibody-drug conjugate; glycosylation; immune checkpoint blockade; immunosuppression; immunotherapy; receptor internalization.
Published by Elsevier Inc.