The SETDB1-TRIM28 Complex Suppresses Antitumor Immunity

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The tumor immune microenvironment is influenced by the epigenetic landscape of the tumor. Here, we have identified the SETDB1-TRIM28 complex as a critical suppressor of antitumor immunity. An epigenetic CRISPR-Cas9 screen of 1,218 chromatin regulators identified TRIM28 as a suppressor of PD-L1 expression. We then revealed that expression of the SETDB1-TRIM28 complex negatively correlated with infiltration of effector CD8+ T cells. Inhibition of SETDB1-TRIM28 simultaneously upregulated PD-L1 and activated the cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS)-stimulator of interferon genes (STING) innate immune response pathway to increase infiltration of CD8þ T cells. Mechanistically, SETDB1-TRIM28 inhibition led to micronuclei formation in the cytoplasm, which is known to activate the cGAS-STING pathway. Thus, SETDB1-TRIM28 inhibition bridges innate and adaptive immunity. Indeed, SETDB1 knockout enhanced the antitumor effects of immune checkpoint blockade with anti-PD-L1 in a mouse model of ovarian cancer in a cGAS-dependent manner. Our findings establish the SETDB1-TRIM28 complex as a regulator of antitumor immunity and demonstrate that its loss activates cGAS-STING innate immunity to boost the antitumor effects of immune checkpoint blockade.




Lin, J., Guo, D., Liu, H., Zhou, W., Wang, C., Müller, I., … Zhang, R. (2021). The SETDB1-TRIM28 Complex Suppresses Antitumor Immunity. Cancer Immunology Research, 9(12), 1413–1424.

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