T cell antigen-presenting cell (APC) interactions early during chronic viral infection are crucial for determining viral set point and disease outcome, but how and when different APC subtypes contribute to these outcomes is unclear. The TNF receptor superfamily (TNFRSF) member GITR is important for CD4+ T cell accumulation and control of chronic lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). We found that type I interferon (IFN-I) induced TNFSF ligands GITRL, 4-1BBL, OX40L, and CD70 predominantly on monocyte-derived APCs and CD80 and CD86 predominantly on classical dendritic cells (cDCs). Mice with hypofunctional GITRL in Lyz2+ cells had decreased LCMV-specific CD4+ T cell accumulation and increased viral load. GITR signals in CD4+ T cells occurred after priming to upregulate OX40, CD25, and chemokine receptor CX3CR1. Thus IFN-I (signal 3) induced a post-priming checkpoint (signal 4) for CD4+ T cell accumulation, revealing a division of labor between cDCs and monocyte-derived APCs in regulating T cell expansion.
Therapeutic blocking of the PD1 pathway results in significant tumor responses, but resistance is common. We demonstrate that prolonged interferon signaling orchestrates PDL1-dependent and PDL1-independent resistance to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) and to combinations such as radiation plus anti-CTLA4. Persistent type II interferon signaling allows tumors to acquire STAT1-related epigenomic changes and augments expression of interferon-stimulated genes and ligands for multiple T cell inhibitory receptors. Both type I and II interferons maintain this resistance program. Crippling the program genetically or pharmacologically interferes with multiple inhibitory pathways and expands distinct T cell populations with improved function despite expressing markers of severe exhaustion. Consequently, tumors resistant to multi-agent ICB are rendered responsive to ICB monotherapy. Finally, we observe that biomarkers for interferon-driven resistance associate with clinical progression after anti-PD1 therapy. Thus, the duration of tumor interferon signaling augments adaptive resistance and inhibition of the interferon response bypasses requirements for combinatorial ICB therapies.