Antibody blockade of the inhibitory CTLA-4 pathway has led to clinical benefit in a subset of patients with metastatic melanoma. Anti-CTLA-4 enhances T cell responses, including production of IFN-γ, which is a critical cytokine for host immune responses. However, the role of IFN-γ signaling in tumor cells in the setting of anti-CTLA-4 therapy remains unknown. Here, we demonstrate that patients identified as non-responders to anti-CTLA-4 (ipilimumab) have tumors with genomic defects in IFN-γ pathway genes. Furthermore, mice bearing melanoma tumors with knockdown of IFN-γ receptor 1 (IFNGR1) have impaired tumor rejection upon anti-CTLA-4 therapy. These data highlight that loss of the IFN-γ signaling pathway is associated with primary resistance to anti-CTLA-4 therapy. Our findings demonstrate the importance of tumor genomic data, especially IFN-γ related genes, as prognostic information for patients selected to receive treatment with immune checkpoint therapy.
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