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Serine Depletion Promotes Anti-Tumor Immunity by Activating Mitochondrial DNA-mediated cGAS-STING Signaling.

Cancer Research 2024 June 12
Serine is critical for supporting cancer metabolism, and depriving malignant cells of this non-essential amino acid exerts anti-neoplastic effects, in large part, through disrupting metabolic pathways. Given the intricate relationship between cancer metabolism and the immune system, the metabolic defects imposed by serine deprivation might impact tumor-targeting immunity. Here, we demonstrated that restricting endogenous and exogenous sources of serine in colorectal cancer (CRC) cells results in mitochondrial dysfunction, leading to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) accumulation in the cytosol and consequent cGAS-STING1-driven type I interferon (IFN) secretion. Depleting mtDNA or blocking its release attenuated cGAS-STING1 activation during serine deprivation. In vivo studies revealed that serine deprivation limits tumor growth, accompanied by enhanced type I IFN signaling and intratumoral infiltration of immune effector cells. Notably, the tumor-suppressive and immune-enhancing effects of serine restriction were impaired by T cell depletion and IFN receptor blockade. Moreover, disrupting cGAS-STING1 signaling in CRC cells limited the immunostimulatory and tumor-suppressive effects of serine deprivation. Lastly, serine depletion increased the sensitivity of tumors to an immune checkpoint inhibitor targeting PD-1. Taken together, these findings reveal a role for serine as a suppressor of anti-tumor immunity, suggesting that serine deprivation may be employed to enhance tumor immunogenicity and improve responsiveness to immune checkpoint inhibitors.

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