PD-1 Independent Role of PD-L1 in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Progression

Duaa Alkaabi, Kholoud Arafat, Shahrazad Sulaiman, Aya Mudhafar Al-Azawi, Samir Attoub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a type of breast malignancy characterized by a high proliferative rate and metastatic potential leading to treatment failure, relapse, and poor prognosis. Therefore, efforts are continuously being devoted to understanding its biology and identifying new potential targets. Programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) is an immunosuppressive protein that inactivates T cells by binding to the inhibitory receptor programmed death-1 (PD-1). PD-L1 overexpression in cancer cells contributes to immune evasion and, subsequently, poor survival and prognosis in several cancers, including breast cancer. Apart from its inhibitory impact on T cells, this ligand is believed to have an intrinsic role in cancer cells. This study was performed to clarify the PD-1 independent role of PD-L1 in TNBC MDA-MB-231 cells by knocking out the PD-L1 using three designs of CRISPR-Cas9 lentiviral particles. Our study revealed that PD-L1 knockout significantly inhibited MDA-MB-231 cell proliferation and colony formation in vitro and tumor growth in the chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) model in vivo. PD-L1 knockout also decreased the migration and invasion of MDA-MB-231 cells in vitro. We have shown that PD-L1 knockout MDA-MB-231 cells have low levels of p-Akt and p-ERK in addition to some of their downstream proteins, c-Fos, c-Myc, p21, survivin, and COX-2. Furthermore, PD-L1 knockout significantly decreased the expression of Snail and RhoA. This study shows the intrinsic role of PD-L1 in TNBC independently of its binding to PD-1 receptors on T cells. It may pave the way for developing novel therapeutic strategies using PD-L1 inhibitors alone and in combination to treat TNBC more effectively.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6420
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Akt
  • CAM
  • ERK
  • PD-L1
  • TNBC
  • invasion
  • migration
  • proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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