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Immune checkpoint therapy has produced remarkable improvements in the outcome for certain cancers. To broaden the clinical impact of checkpoint targeting, we devised a strategy that couples targeting of the cytokine-inducible SH2-containing (CIS) protein, a key negative regulator of interleukin (IL)-15 signaling, with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) engineering of natural killer (NK) cells. This combined strategy boosted NK cell effector function through enhancing the Akt/mTORC1 axis and c-MYC signaling, resulting in increased aerobic glycolysis. When tested in a lymphoma mouse model, this combined approach improved NK cell anti-tumor activity more than either alteration alone, eradicating lymphoma xenografts without signs of any measurable toxicity. We conclude that combining CIS checkpoint deletion with CAR engineering promotes the metabolic fitness of NK cells in an otherwise suppressive tumor microenvironment. This approach, together with the prolonged survival afforded by CAR modification, represents a promising milestone in the development of the next generation of NK cells for cancer immunotherapy.

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