Targeting PIM1-mediated metabolism in myeloid suppressor cells to treat cancer

Gang Xin, Yao Chen, Paytsar Topchyan, Moujtaba Y. Kasmani, Robert Burns, Peter J. Volberding, Xiaopeng Wu, Alexandra Cohn, Yiliang Chen, Chien Wei Lin, Ping Chih Ho, Roy Silverstein, Michael B. Dwinell, Weiguo Cui*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


There is a strong correlation between myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) and resistance to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB), but the detailed mechanisms underlying this correlation are largely unknown. Using single-cell RNA sequencing analysis in a bilateral tumor model, we found that immunosuppressive myeloid cells with characteristics of fatty acid oxidative metabolism dominate the immune-cell landscape in ICB-resistant subjects. In addition, we uncovered a previously underappreciated role of a serine/threonine kinase, PIM1, in regulating lipid oxidative metabolism via PPARg-mediated activities. Enforced PPARg expression sufficiently rescued metabolic and functional defects of Pim1-/- MDSCs. Consistent with this, pharmacologic inhibition of PIM kinase by AZD1208 treatment significantly disrupted the myeloid cell–mediated immunosuppressive microenvironment and unleashed CD8þ T-cell–mediated antitumor immunity, which enhanced PD-L1 blockade in preclinical cancer models. PIM kinase inhibition also sensitized nonresponders to PD-L1 blockade by selectively targeting suppressive myeloid cells. Overall, we have identified PIM1 as a metabolic modulator in MDSCs that is associated with ICB resistance and can be therapeutically targeted to overcome ICB resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)454-469
Number of pages16
JournalCancer Immunology Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cancer Research


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