Wolf et al. reviewed the growing body of evidence that TIM3, with multiple ligands and no known negative signaling motifs, is a negative co-regulator that serves to limit IFNγ-driven inflammation and enhance the effect of PD-1 blockade. On CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, TIM3 is co-expressed with PD-1 and is present on the most highly dysfunctional CD8+PD-1+ TILs and the most suppressive, predominant Treg cells in tumors. Co-blockade of PD-1 and TIM3 in mouse tumor models was synergistic compared with PD-1 blockade alone. Although the mechanism of action is unclear, anti-TIM3/PD-1 combinations are being tested in numerous early-stage human trials.
Contributed by Katherine Turner
T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain-containing protein 3 (TIM3), a member of the TIM family, was originally identified as a receptor expressed on interferon-gamma-producing CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. Initial data indicated that TIM3 functioned as a 'co-inhibitory' or 'checkpoint' receptor, but due to the lack of a definable inhibitory signalling motif, it was also suggested that TIM3 might act as a co-stimulatory receptor. Recent studies have shown that TIM3 is part of a module that contains multiple co-inhibitory receptors (checkpoint receptors), which are co-expressed and co-regulated on dysfunctional or 'exhausted' T cells in chronic viral infections and cancer. Furthermore, co-blockade of TIM3 and programmed cell death 1 (PD1) can result in tumour regression in preclinical models and can improve anticancer T cell responses in patients with advanced cancers. Here, we highlight the developments in understanding TIM3 biology, including novel ligand identification and the discovery of loss-of-function mutations associated with human disease. In addition, we summarize emerging data from human clinical trials showing that TIM3 indeed acts as a 'checkpoint' receptor and that inhibition of TIM3 enhances the antitumour effect of PD1 blockade.