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PD-L1 over-expression is driven by B-cell receptor signaling in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

Abstract

Targeting the programmed death 1 (PD-1)/programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) pathway represents a milestone in cancer therapy. However, the biologic features of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) with PD-L1 expression remains unknown. We evaluated the correlation between pSYK and PD-L1 mRNA levels with RNAscope in situ hybridization and protein levels with immunohistochemistry in 108 cases of DLBCL, 25 of which featured loss of B-cell receptor (BCR), and investigated the effects of BCR signaling and MYC on PD-L1 mRNA and protein level with qPCR, immunoblotting and flow cytometery in DLBCL cell lines. PD-L1 amplification was detected with fluorescent in situ hybridization. Animal studies were applied to validate the in vitro findings. pSYK and MYC correlated with both PD-L1 mRNA and protein level. Genetic aberrations involving PD-L1 were rare in DLBCL. BCR signaling and MYC increased PD-L1 mRNA and protein expression. Inhibition of BCR signaling and BCR knockdown down-regulated PD-L1. DLBCL with a loss of loss of BCR showed low levels of PD-L1 mRNA and protein. PD-L1 was down-regulated by ibrutinib in a xenograft mouse model and correlated with slower tumor growth. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that DLBCL with PD-L1 expression features an activated B-cell receptor signal pathway, and that BCR inhibition and PD-L1 blockage may potentially synergize to targeting DLBCL.

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Correspondence to Xiao-Qiu Li.

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