New strategies are needed to enhance the efficacy of anti-programmed cell death protein antibody (anti-PD-1 Ab) in cancer. Here, we report that inhibiting palmitoyl-protein thioesterase 1 (PPT1), a target of chloroquine derivatives like hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), enhances the antitumor efficacy of anti-PD-1 Ab in melanoma. The combination resulted in tumor growth impairment and improved survival in mouse models. Genetic suppression of core autophagy genes, but not Ppt1, in cancer cells reduced priming and cytotoxic capacity of primed T cells. Exposure of antigen-primed T cells to macrophage-conditioned medium derived from macrophages treated with PPT1 inhibitors enhanced melanoma-specific killing. Genetic or chemical Ppt1 inhibition resulted in M2 to M1 phenotype switching in macrophages. The combination was associated with a reduction in myeloid-derived suppressor cells in the tumor. Ppt1 inhibition by HCQ, or DC661, induced cyclic GMP-AMP synthase/stimulator of interferon genes/TANK binding kinase 1 pathway activation and the secretion of interferon-β in macrophages, the latter being a key component for augmented T cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Genetic Ppt1 inhibition produced similar findings. These data provide the rationale for this combination in melanoma clinical trials and further investigation in other cancers.
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