Metastasis causes breast cancer-related mortality. Tumor-infiltrating neutrophils (TINs) inflict immunosuppression and promote metastasis. Therapeutic debilitation of TINs may enhance immunotherapy, yet it remains a challenge to identify therapeutic targets highly expressed and functionally essential in TINs but under-expressed in extra-tumoral neutrophils. Here, using single-cell RNA sequencing to compare TINs and circulating neutrophils in murine mammary tumor models, we identified aconitate decarboxylase 1 (Acod1) as the most upregulated metabolic enzyme in mouse TINs and validated high Acod1 expression in human TINs. Activated through the GM-CSF-JAK/STAT5-C/EBPβ pathway, Acod1 produces itaconate, which mediates Nrf2-dependent defense against ferroptosis and upholds the persistence of TINs. Acod1 ablation abates TIN infiltration, constrains metastasis (but not primary tumors), bolsters antitumor T cell immunity, and boosts the efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade. Our findings reveal how TINs escape from ferroptosis through the Acod1-dependent immunometabolism switch and establish Acod1 as a target to offset immunosuppression and improve immunotherapy against metastasis.
Keywords: Acod1; MDSC; breast cancer; ferroptosis; immune checkpoint blockade; immune metabolism; itaconate; metastasis; neutrophil; single-cell RNA sequencing.
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