Cancer cells rely on lysosome-dependent degradation to recycle nutrients that serve their energetic and biosynthetic needs. Despite great interest in repurposing the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine as a lysosomal inhibitor in clinical oncology trials, the mechanisms by which hydroxychloroquine and other lysosomal inhibitors induce tumor-cell cytotoxicity remain unclear. In this issue of the JCI, Bhardwaj et al. demonstrate that DC661, a dimeric form of chloroquine that inhibits palmitoyl-protein thioesterase 1 (PPT1), promoted lysosomal lipid peroxidation, resulting in lysosomal membrane permeabilization and tumor cell death. Remarkably, this lysosomal cell death pathway elicited cell-intrinsic immunogenicity and promoted T lymphocyte–mediated tumor cell clearance. The findings provide the mechanistic foundation for the potential combined use of immunotherapy and lysosomal inhibition in clinical trials.
Pravin Phadatare, Jayanta Debnath