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By restoring tryptophan, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) inhibitors aim to reactivate anti-tumor T cells. However, a phase III trial assessing their clinical benefit failed, prompting us to revisit the role of IDO1 in tumor cells under T cell attack. We show here that IDO1 inhibition leads to an adverse protection of melanoma cells to T cell-derived interferon-gamma (IFNγ). RNA sequencing and ribosome profiling shows that IFNγ shuts down general protein translation, which is reversed by IDO1 inhibition. Impaired translation is accompanied by an amino acid deprivation-dependent stress response driving activating transcription factor-4 (ATF4)high/microphtalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF)low transcriptomic signatures, also in patient melanomas. Single-cell sequencing analysis reveals that MITF downregulation upon immune checkpoint blockade treatment predicts improved patient outcome. Conversely, MITF restoration in cultured melanoma cells causes T cell resistance. These results highlight the critical role of tryptophan and MITF in the melanoma response to T cell-derived IFNγ and uncover an unexpected negative consequence of IDO1 inhibition.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Rep Med

Publication Date





IDO1, IDO1 inhibition, IFNgamma, MITF, T cells, clinical trial, immunotherapy, melanoma, translation, Humans, Tryptophan, Melanoma, Interferon-gamma, T-Lymphocytes, Indoleamine-Pyrrole 2,3,-Dioxygenase