Nuclear PD-L1 promotes EGR1-mediated angiogenesis and accelerates tumorigenesis

Cell Discov. 2023 Mar 28;9(1):33. doi: 10.1038/s41421-023-00521-7.


Targeting programmed cell death protein ligand 1 (PD-L1) remains one of the most essential immunotherapies in cancer1,2. PD-L1 has been detected in the nucleus in multiple malignancies, playing an oncogenic role independent of immune checkpoint regulation3-5. Howbeit, the regulatory function of nuclear PD-L1 (nPD-L1) remains to be fully understood. Here, we report that nPD-L1 is an endogenous accelerator for cancer angiogenesis. First, we found that an abundant proportion of PD-L1 was distributed within the nucleus of uveal melanoma samples, which is associated with an unfavorable outcome. Moreover, the capacity of promoting angiogenesis was largely attenuated in the nPD-L1-deficient cells both in vivo and in vitro. Mechanistically, nPD-L1 facilitates p-STAT3 binding to the promoter of early growth response-1 (EGR1), resulting in the activation of EGR1-mediated angiogenesis. Therapeutically, the inhibition of histone deacetylase 2 restores the normal acetylation level of PD-L1, blocking its nuclear translocation and thereby attenuating tumor angiogenesis. Conclusively, we reveal that nPD-L1 promotes angiogenesis in malignancies, and provide a novel anti-vascularization strategy through blocking aberrant PD-L1 nuclear translocation for tumor therapy.