Checkpoint blockade revolutionized cancer therapy, but we still lack a quantitative, mechanistic understanding of how inhibitory receptors affect diverse signaling pathways. To address this issue, we developed and applied a fluorescent intracellular live multiplex signal transduction activity reporter (FILMSTAR) system to analyze PD-1-induced suppressive effects. These studies identified pathways triggered solely by TCR or requiring both TCR and CD28 inputs. Using presenting cells differing in PD-L1 and CD80 expression while displaying TCR ligands of distinct potency, we found that PD-1-mediated inhibition primarily targets TCR-linked signals in a manner highly sensitive to peptide ligand quality. These findings help resolve discrepancies in existing data about the site(s) of PD-1 inhibition in T cells while emphasizing the importance of neoantigen potency in controlling the effects of checkpoint therapy.

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