Cancer immunotherapy targeting the TIGIT/PVR pathway is currently facing challenges. KIR2DL5, a member of the human killer cell, immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) family, has recently been identified as another binding partner for PVR. The biology and therapeutic potential of the KIR2DL5/PVR pathway are largely unknown. Here we report that KIR2DL5 was predominantly expressed on human NK cells with mature phenotype and cytolytic function and that it bound to PVR without competition with the other 3 known PVR receptors. The interaction between KIR2DL5 on NK cells and PVR on target cells induced inhibitory synapse formation, whereas new monoclonal antibodies blocking the KIR2DL5-PVR interaction robustly augmented the NK cytotoxicity against PVR+ human tumors. Mechanistically, both intracellular ITIM and ITSM of KIR2DL5 underwent tyrosine phosphorylation after engagement, which was essential for KIR2DL5-mediated NK suppression by recruiting SHP-1 and/or SHP-2. Subsequently, ITIM/SHP-1/SHP-2 and ITSM/SHP-1 downregulated the downstream Vav1/ERK1/2/p90RSK/NF-κB signaling. KIR2DL5+ immune cells infiltrated in various types of PVR+ human cancers. Markedly, the KIR2DL5 blockade reduced tumor growth and improved overall survival across multiple NK cell–based humanized tumor models. Thus, our results revealed functional mechanisms of KIR2DL5-mediated NK cell immune evasion, demonstrated blockade of the KIR2DL5/PVR axis as a therapy for human cancers, and provided an underlying mechanism for the clinical failure of anti-TIGIT therapies.
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