Blockade of the inhibitory receptor TIM-3 shows efficacy in cancer immunotherapy clinical trials. TIM-3 inhibits production of the chemokine CXCL9 by XCR1+ classical dendritic cells (cDC1), thereby limiting antitumor immunity in mammary carcinomas. We found that increased CXCL9 expression by splenic cDC1s upon TIM-3 blockade required type I interferons and extracellular DNA. Chemokine expression as well as combinatorial efficacy of TIM-3 blockade and paclitaxel chemotherapy were impaired by deletion of Cgas and Sting. TIM-3 blockade increased uptake of extracellular DNA by cDC1 through an endocytic process that resulted in cytoplasmic localization. DNA uptake and efficacy of TIM-3 blockade required DNA binding by HMGB1, while galectin-9-induced cell surface clustering of TIM-3 was necessary for its suppressive function. Human peripheral blood cDC1s also took up extracellular DNA upon TIM-3 blockade. Thus, TIM-3 regulates endocytosis of extracellular DNA and activation of the cytoplasmic DNA sensing cGAS-STING pathway in cDC1s, with implications for understanding the mechanisms underlying TIM-3 immunotherapy.
Keywords: CD103(+) cDC1; CXCL10; CXCL9; DNA; STING; TIM-3; XCR1(+) cDC1; cGAS; dendritic cells; type I interferon.
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