Macrophage mitochondrial fission improves cancer cell phagocytosis induced by therapeutic antibodies and is impaired by glutamine competition

Nat Cancer. 2022 Apr;3(4):453-470. doi: 10.1038/s43018-022-00354-5. Epub 2022 Apr 28.


Phagocytosis is required for the optimal efficacy of many approved and promising therapeutic antibodies for various malignancies. However, the factors that determine the response to therapies that rely on phagocytosis remain largely elusive. Here, we demonstrate that mitochondrial fission in macrophages induced by multiple antibodies is essential for phagocytosis of live tumor cells. Tumor cells resistant to phagocytosis inhibit mitochondrial fission of macrophages by overexpressing glutamine-fructose-6-phosphate transaminase 2 (GFPT2), which can be targeted to improve antibody efficacy. Mechanistically, increased cytosolic calcium by mitochondrial fission abrogates the phase transition of the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASP)-Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome interacting protein (WIP) complex and enables protein kinase C-θ (PKC-θ) to phosphorylate WIP during phagocytosis. GFPT2-mediated excessive use of glutamine by tumor cells impairs mitochondrial fission and prevents access of PKC-θ to compartmentalized WIP in macrophages. Our data suggest that mitochondrial dynamics dictate the phase transition of the phagocytic machinery and identify GFPT2 as a potential target to improve antibody therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cytophagocytosis*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Glutamine / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Macrophages
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Phagocytosis
  • Protein Kinase C-theta / metabolism
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein / metabolism


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein
  • Glutamine
  • Protein Kinase C-theta