The apelin receptor (APLNR) regulates many biological processes including metabolism, angiogenesis, circulating blood volume and cardiovascular function. Additionally, APLNR is overexpressed in various types of cancer and influences cancer progression. APLNR is reported to regulate tumor recognition during immune surveillance by modulating the IFN-γ response. However, the mechanism of APLNR cross-talk with intratumoral IFN-γ signaling remains unknown. Here, we show that activation of APLNR up-regulates IFN-γ signaling in melanoma cells through APLNR mediated β-arrestin 1 but not β-arrestin 2 recruitment. Our data suggests that β-arrestin 1 directly interacts with STAT1 to inhibit STAT1 phosphorylation to attenuate IFN-γ signaling. The APLNR mutant receptor, I109A, which is deficient in β-arrestins recruitment, is unable to enhance intratumoral IFN-γ signaling. While APLNR N112G, a constitutively active mutant receptor, increases intratumoral sensitivity to IFN-γ signaling by enhancing STAT1 phosphorylation upon IFN-γ exposure. We also demonstrate in a co-culture system that APLNR regulates tumor survival rate. Taken together, our findings reveal that APLNR modulates IFN-γ signaling in melanoma cells and suggest that APLNR may be a potential target to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy.

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