Neutrophils are early wound healing and inflammation regulators that, due to functional plasticity, can adopt either pro- or antitumor functions. Until recently, beclin-1 was a protein known mainly for its role as a critical regulator of autophagy. In this issue of the JCI, Tan et al. describe the effects of the beclin-1 conditional myeloid cell–specific deletion in mice, in which immunostimulation resulted in hypersensitive neutrophils. The chronic proinflammatory effect of these neutrophils triggered spontaneous B cell malignancies to develop. Such tumorigenic effects were mediated primarily by IL-21 and CD40 signaling, leading to the upregulation of tolerogenic molecules, such as IL-10 and PD-L1. The authors went on to examine samples derived from patient lymphoid malignancies and showed that beclin-1 expression in neutrophils positively correlated with pre–B cell leukemia/lymphoma. Overall, the study provides an elegant model for neutrophil-driven carcinogenesis and identifies potential targets for immunotherapy of B cell malignancies.
Yu-Lin Su, Marcin Kortylewski
Beclin-1 operates as an immune checkpoint regulator in neutrophils.