Nod1 promotes colorectal carcinogenesis by regulating the immunosuppressive functions of tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells

Cell Rep. 2021 Jan 26;34(4):108677. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108677.


Pioneering studies from the early 1980s suggested that bacterial peptidoglycan-derived muramyl peptides (MPs) could exert either stimulatory or immunosuppressive functions depending, in part, on chronicity of exposure. However, this Janus-faced property of MPs remains largely unexplored. Here, we demonstrate the immunosuppressive potential of Nod1, the bacterial sensor of diaminopimelic acid (DAP)-containing MPs. Using a model of self-limiting peritonitis, we show that systemic Nod1 activation promotes an autophagy-dependent reprogramming of macrophages toward an alternative phenotype. Moreover, Nod1 stimulation induces the expansion of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and maintains their immunosuppressive potential via arginase-1 activity. Supporting the role of MDSCs and tumor-associated macrophages in cancer, we demonstrate that myeloid-intrinsic Nod1 expression sustains intra-tumoral arginase-1 levels to foster an immunosuppressive and tumor-permissive microenvironment during colorectal cancer (CRC) development. Our findings support the notion that bacterial products, via Nod1 detection, modulate the immunosuppressive activity of myeloid cells and fuel tumor progression in CRC.

Keywords: Atg16L1; MDSC; Nod1 receptor; TAM; TME; arginase-1; autophagy; colon cancer; immunosuppression; microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis / immunology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells / immunology*
  • Nod1 Signaling Adaptor Protein / immunology*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology


  • NOD1 protein, human
  • Nod1 Signaling Adaptor Protein
  • Nod1 protein, mouse