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CD137 (4-1BB) is a member of the TNFR family that mediates potent T cell costimulatory signals upon ligation by CD137L or agonist monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). CD137 agonists attain immunotherapeutic antitumor effects in cancer mouse models, and multiple agents of this kind are undergoing clinical trials. We show that cIAP1 and cIAP2 are physically associated with the CD137 signaling complex. Moreover, cIAPs are required for CD137 signaling toward the NF-κB and MAPK pathways and for costimulation of human and mouse T lymphocytes. Functional evidence was substantiated with SMAC mimetics that trigger cIAP degradation and by transfecting cIAP dominant-negative variants. Antitumor effects of agonist anti-CD137 mAbs are critically dependent on the integrity of cIAPs in cancer mouse models, and cIAPs are also required for signaling from CARs encompassing CD137's cytoplasmic tail.

Original publication




Journal article


Science advances

Publication Date





Program of Immunology and Immunotherapy, Cima Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.


Animals, Humans, Mice, Neoplasms, NF-kappa B, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Spectrum Analysis, Raman, Signal Transduction