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ALKBH5 regulates anti–PD-1 therapy response by modulating lactate and suppressive immune cell accumulation in tumor microenvironment


Although immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapy has revolutionized cancer treatment, many patients do not respond or develop resistance to ICB. N6 -methylation of adenosine (m6A) in RNA regulates many pathophysiological processes. Here, we show that deletion of the m6A demethylase Alkbh5 sensitized tumors to cancer immunotherapy. Alkbh5 has effects on m6A density and splicing events in tumors during ICB. Alkbh5 modulates Mct4/Slc16a3 expression and lactate content of the tumor microenvironment and the composition of tumor-infiltrating Treg and myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Importantly, a small-molecule Alkbh5 inhibitor enhanced the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy. Notably, the ALKBH5 gene mutation and expression status of melanoma patients correlate with their response to immunotherapy. Our results suggest that m6A demethylases in tumor cells contribute to the efficacy of immunotherapy and identify ALKBH5 as a potential therapeutic target to enhance immunotherapy outcome in melanoma, colorectal, and potentially other cancers.

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