An Inflammatory Checkpoint Generated by IL1RN Splicing Offers Therapeutic Opportunity for KRAS-Mutant Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma

Cancer Discov. 2023 Oct 5;13(10):2248-2269. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-23-0282.


KRAS mutations are causally linked to protumor inflammation and are identified as driving factors in tumorigenesis. Here, using multiomics data gathered from a large set of patients, we showed that KRAS mutation was associated with a specific landscape of alternative mRNA splicing that connected to myeloid inflammation in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA). Then, we identified a negative feedback mechanism in which the upregulation of interleukin 1 receptor antagonist (IL1RN)-201/203 due to alternative splicing confers vital anti-inflammatory effects in KRAS-mutant iCCA. In KRAS-mutant iCCA mice, both IL1RN-201/203 upregulation and anakinra treatment ignited a significant antitumor immune response by altering neutrophil recruitment and phenotypes. Furthermore, anakinra treatment synergistically enhanced anti-PD-1 therapy to activate intratumoral GZMB+ CD8+ T cells in KRAS-mutant iCCA mice. Clinically, we found that high IL1RN-201/203 levels in patients with KRAS-mutant iCCA were significantly associated with superior response to anti-PD-1 immunotherapy.

Significance: This work describes a novel inflammatory checkpoint mediated by IL1RN alternative splicing variants that may serve as a promising basis to develop therapeutic options for KRAS-mutant iCCA and other cancers. This article is featured in Selected Articles from This Issue, p. 2109.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic / pathology
  • Cholangiocarcinoma* / drug therapy
  • Cholangiocarcinoma* / genetics
  • Cholangiocarcinoma* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / genetics
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / pharmacology
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / therapeutic use
  • Mice
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / genetics


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • KRAS protein, human
  • IL1RN protein, human