Despite remarkable clinical efficacies of immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) in cancer treatment, ICB benefits in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) remain limited. Through pooled in vivo CRISPR knockout (KO) screens in syngeneic TNBC mouse models, we found that inhibition of the E3 ubiquitin ligase COP1 in cancer cells decreases the secretion of macrophage-associated chemokines, reduces tumor macrophage infiltration, enhances tumor immunity and ICB response. Transcriptomics, epigenomics, and proteomics analyses revealed COP1 functions through proteasomal degradation of the C/ebpδ protein. COP1 substrate TRIB2 functions as a scaffold linking COP1 and C/ebpδ, which leads to polyubiquitination of C/ebpδ. COP1 inhibition stabilizes C/ebpδ to suppress the expression of macrophage chemoattractant genes. Our integrated approach implicates COP1 as a target for improving cancer immunotherapy efficacy by regulating chemokine secretion and macrophage infiltration in the TNBC tumor microenvironment.

Citation Format: Xiaoqing Wang, Collin Tokheim, Shengqing S. Gu, Binbin Wang, Qin Tang, Yihao Li, Nicole Traugh, Zexian Zeng, Yi Zhang, Boning Zhang, Jingxin Fu, Tengfei Xiao, Wei Li, Clifford Meyer, Peng Jiang, Paloma Cejas, Klothilda Lim, Henry Long, Myles Brown, X. Shirley Liu. In vivo CRISPR screens identify E3 ligase COP1 as a modulator of macrophage infiltration and cancer immunotherapy target [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR-NCI-EORTC Virtual International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics; 2021 Oct 7-10. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Mol Cancer Ther 2021;20(12 Suppl):Abstract nr P108.