Berberine diminishes cancer cell PD-L1 expression and facilitates antitumor immunityinhibiting the deubiquitination activity of CSN5.
Acta Pharm Sin B. 2020 Dec ;10(12):2299-2312. Epub 2020 Jun 30. PMID: 33354502
Programmed cell death-1 (PD-1)/programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1) blocking therapy has become a major pillar of cancer immunotherapy. Compared with antibodies targeting, small-molecule checkpoint inhibitors which have favorable pharmacokinetics are urgently needed. Here we identified berberine (BBR), a proven anti-inflammation drug, as a negative regulator of PD-L1 from a set of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) chemical monomers. BBR enhanced the sensitivity of tumour cells to co-cultured T-cells by decreasing the level of PD-L1 in cancer cells. In addition, BBR exerted its antitumor effect in Lewis tumor xenograft mice through enhancing tumor-infiltrating T-cell immunity and attenuating the activation of immunosuppressive myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and regulatory T-cells (Tregs). BBR triggered PD-L1 degradation through ubiquitin (Ub)/proteasome-dependent pathway. Remarkably, BBR selectively bound to the glutamic acid 76 of constitutive photomorphogenic-9 signalosome 5 (CSN5) and inhibited PD-1/PD-L1 axis through its deubiquitination activity, resulting in ubiquitination and degradation of PD-L1. Our data reveals a previously unrecognized antitumor mechanism of BBR, suggesting BBR is small-molecule immune checkpoint inhibitor for cancer treatment.