In Vivo CRISPR Screens Identify E3 Ligase Cop1 as a Modulator of Macrophage Infiltration and Cancer Immunotherapy Target
Despite remarkable clinical efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) in cancer treatment, ICB benefits in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) remain limited. Through pooled in vivo CRISPR knockout (KO) screens in syngeneic TNBC mouse models, we found that deletion of the E3 ubiquitin ligase Cop1 in cancer cells decreases the secretion of macrophage-associated chemokines, reduces tumor macrophage infiltration, enhances anti-tumor immunity, and strengthens ICB response. Transcriptomics, epigenomics, and proteomics analyses revealed that Cop1 functions through proteasomal degradation of the C/ebpδ protein. Cop1 substrate Trib2 functions as a scaffold linking Cop1 and C/ebpδ, which leads to polyubiquitination of C/ebpδ. In addition, deletion of the E3 ubiquitin ligase Cop1 in cancer cells stabilizes C/ebpδ to suppress the expression of macrophage chemoattractant genes. Our integrated approach implicates Cop1 as a target for improving cancer immunotherapy efficacy in TNBC by regulating chemokine secretion and macrophage infiltration in the tumor microenvironment.