Programmed death ligand 1 signals in cancer cells

Anand V.R. Kornepati, Ratna K. Vadlamudi, Tyler J. Curiel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The paradigm of surface-expressed programmed death ligand 1 (PDL1) signalling to immune cell programmed death 1 (PD1) to inhibit antitumour immunity has helped to develop effective and revolutionary immunotherapies using antibodies blocking these cell-extrinsic interactions. The recent discovery of cancer cell-intrinsic PDL1 signals has broadened understanding of pathologic tumour PDL1 signal consequences that now includes control of tumour growth and survival pathways, stemness, immune effects, DNA damage responses and gene expression regulation. Many such effects are PD1-independent. These insights demonstrate that the prevailing cell-extrinsic PDL1 signalling paradigm is useful, but incomplete in important respects. This Perspective discusses historical and recent advances in understanding cancer cell-intrinsic PDL1 signals, mechanisms for signal controls and important immunopathologic consequences including resistance to cytotoxic agents, targeted small molecules and immunotherapies. Cancer cell-intrinsic PDL1 signals present novel drug discovery targets and also have potential as reliable treatment response biomarkers. Cancer cell-intrinsic PD1 signals and cell-intrinsic PDL1 signals in non-cancer cells are discussed briefly, as are PDL1 signals from soluble and vesicle-bound PDL1 and PDL1 isoforms. We conclude with suggestions for addressing the most pressing challenges and opportunities in this rapidly developing field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-189
Number of pages16
JournalNature Reviews Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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