Clec4A4 Acts as a Negative Immune Checkpoint Regulator to Suppress Antitumor Immunity

Cancer Immunol Res. 2023 Sep 1;11(9):1266-1279. doi: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-22-0536.


Clec4A4 is a C-type lectin receptor (CLR) exclusively expressed on murine conventional dendritic cells (cDC) to regulate their activation status. However, the functional role of murine Clec4A4 (mClec4A4) in antitumor immunity remains unclear. Here, we show that mClec4A4 serves as a negative immune checkpoint regulator to impair antitumor immune responses. Deficiency of mClec4A4 lead to a reduction in tumor development, accompanied by enhanced antitumor immune responses and amelioration of the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) mediated through the enforced activation of cDCs in tumor-bearing mice. Furthermore, antagonistic mAb to human CLEC4A (hCLEC4A), which is the functional orthologue of mClec4A4, exerted protection against established tumors without any apparent signs of immune-related adverse events in hCLEC4A-transgenic mice. Thus, our findings highlight the critical role of mClec4A4 expressed on cDCs as a negative immune checkpoint molecule in the control of tumor progression and provide support for hCLEC4A as a potential target for immune checkpoint blockade in tumor immunotherapy.