Immunoproteasome expression is associated with better prognosis and response to checkpoint therapies in melanoma(2020) Nature Communications. 11, 1, 896. Abstract
Predicting the outcome of immunotherapy treatment in melanoma patients is challenging. Alterations in genes involved in antigen presentation and the interferon gamma (IFNγ) pathway play an important role in the immune response to tumors. We describe here that the overexpression of PSMB8 and PSMB9, two major components of the immunoproteasome, is predictive of better survival and improved response to immune-checkpoint inhibitors of melanoma patients. We study the mechanism underlying this connection by analyzing the antigenic peptide repertoire of cells that overexpress these subunits using HLA peptidomics. We find a higher response of patient-matched tumor infiltrating lymphocytes against antigens diferentially presented after immunoproteasome overexpression. Importantly, we find that PSMB8 and PSMB9 expression levels are much stronger predictors of melanoma patientsʼ immune response to checkpoint inhibitors than the tumors’ mutational burden. These results suggest that PSMB8 and PSMB9 expression levels can serve as important biomarkers for stratifying melanoma patients for immune-checkpoint treatment.
(2019) Cell. 179, 1, p. 219-235 Abstract
Although clonal neo-antigen burden is associated with improved response to immune therapy, the functional basis for this remains unclear. Here we study this question in a novel controlled mouse melanoma model that enables us to explore the effects of intra-tumor heterogeneity (ITH) on tumor aggressiveness and immunity independent of tumor mutational burden. Induction of UVB-derived mutations yields highly aggressive tumors with decreased anti-tumor activity. However, single-cell-derived tumors with reduced ITH are swiftly rejected. Their rejection is accompanied by increased T cell reactivity and a less suppressive microenvironment. Using phylogenetic analyses and mixing experiments of single-cell clones, we dissect two characteristics of ITH: the number of clones forming the tumor and their clonal diversity. Our analysis of melanoma patient tumor data recapitulates our results in terms of overall survival and response to immune checkpoint therapy. These findings highlight the importance of clonal mutations in robust immune surveillance and the need to quantify patient ITH to determine the response to checkpoint blockade.
(2019) Oncogene. 38, 13, p. 2432-2434 Abstract
RASA2 has previously been shown to be a functional RasGAP in melanoma cells . Mutation or loss of RASA2 promotes RAS activation in melanoma . Our genetic analysis of RASA2 mutations identified that RASA2 and NRAS mutations are mutually exclusive (p = 0.002, Fisher’s exact test), and that NF1 mutations [2, 3] significantly co-occur with RASA2 mutations (p = 0.000011, Fisher’s exact test) in BRAF and NRAS wild-type melanomas, suggesting that loss of RASA2 and NF1 have complementary pro-tumorigenic functions (Fig. 1A).
(2018) ESMO Open. 3, 7, 000475. Abstract
The most meaningful advancement in cancer treatment in recent years has been the emergence of immunotherapy. Checkpoint inhibitor blockade and adoptive T cell therapy have shown remarkable clinical effects in a wide range of tumour types. Despite these advances, many tumours do not respond to these treatments, which raises the need to further investigate how patients can benefit from immunotherapy. This effort can now take advantage of the recent technological progress in single-cell, high-throughput sequencing and computational efforts. In this review, we will discuss advances in different immunotherapies and the principles of cancer immunogenomics, with an emphasis on the detection of cancer neoantigens with human leucocyte antigen peptidomics, and how these principles can be further used for more efficient clinical output.
Combined Analysis of Antigen Presentation and T-cell Recognition Reveals Restricted Immune Responses in Melanoma(2018) Cancer Discovery. 8, 11, p. 1366-1375 Abstract
The quest for tumor-associated antigens (TAA) and neoantigens is a major focus of cancer immunotherapy. Here, we combine a neoantigen prediction pipeline and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) peptidomics to identify TAAs and neoantigens in 16 tumors derived from seven patients with melanoma and characterize their interactions with their tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL). Our investigation of the antigenic and T-cell landscapes encompassing the TAA and neoantigen signatures, their immune reactivity, and their corresponding T-cell identities provides the first comprehensive analysis of cancer cell T-cell cosignatures, allowing us to discover remarkable antigenic and TIL similarities between metastases from the same patient. Furthermore, we reveal that two neoantigen-specific clonotypes killed 90% of autologous melanoma cells, both in vitro and in vivo, showing that a limited set of neoantigen-specific T cells may play a central role in melanoma tumor rejection. Our findings indicate that combining HLA peptidomics with neoantigen predictions allows robust identification of targetable neoantigens, which could successfully guide personalized cancer immunotherapies.SIGNIFICANCE: As neoantigen targeting is becoming more established as a powerful therapeutic approach, investigating these molecules has taken center stage. Here, we show that a limited set of neoantigen-specific T cells mediates tumor rejection, suggesting that identifying just a few antigens and their corresponding T-cell clones could guide personalized immunotherapy. (c) 2018 AACR.
(2015) Cell. 161, 7, p. 1681-1696 Abstract
We describe the landscape of genomic alterations in cutaneous melanomas through DNA, RNA, and protein-based analysis of 333 primary and/or metastatic melanomas from 331 patients. We establish a framework for genomic classification into one of four sub-types based on the pattern of the most prevalent significantly mutated genes: mutant BRAF, mutant RAS, mutant NF1, and Triple-WT (wild-type). Integrative analysis reveals enrichment of KIT mutations and focal amplifications and complex structural rearrangements as a feature of the Triple-WT subtype. We found no significant outcome correlation with genomic classification, but samples assigned a transcriptomic subclass enriched for immune gene expression associated with lymphocyte infiltrate on pathology review and high LCK protein expression, a T cell marker, were associated with improved patient survival. This clinicopathological and multidimensional analysis suggests that the prognosis of melanoma patients with regional metastases is influenced by tumor stroma immunobiology, offering insights to further personalize therapeutic decision-making.
(2013) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 110, 33, p. 13481-13486 Abstract
Synonymous mutations, which do not alter the protein sequence, have been shown to affect protein function [Sauna ZE, Kimchi-Sarfaty C (2011) Nat Rev Genet 12(10):683-691]. However, synonymous mutations are rarely investigated in the cancer genomics field. We used whole-genome and -exome sequencing to identify somatic mutations in 29 melanoma samples. Validation of one synonymous somatic mutation in BCL2L12 in 285 samples identified 12 cases that harbored the recurrent F17F mutation. This mutation led to increased BCL2L12 mRNA and protein levels because of differential targeting of WT and mutant BCL2L12 by hsa-miR-671-5p. Protein made from mutant BCL2L12 transcript bound p53, inhibited UV-induced apoptosis more efficiently than WT BCL2L12, and reduced endogenous p53 target gene transcription. This report shows selection of a recurrent somatic synonymous mutation in cancer. Our data indicate that silent alterations have a role to play in human cancer, emphasizing the importance of their investigation in future cancer genome studies.
Mining exomic sequencing data to identify mutated antigens recognized by adoptively transferred tumor-reactive T cells(2013) Nature Medicine. 19, 6, p. 747-752 Abstract
Substantial regressions of metastatic lesions have been observed in up to 70% of patients with melanoma who received adoptively transferred autologous tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in phase 2 clinical trials(1,2). In addition, 40% of patients treated in a recent trial experienced complete regressions of all measurable lesions for at least 5 years following TIL treatment(3). To evaluate the potential association between the ability of TILs to mediate durable regressions and their ability to recognize potent antigens that presumably include mutated gene products, we developed a new screening approach involving mining whole-exome sequence data to identify mutated proteins expressed in patient tumors. We then synthesized and evaluated candidate mutated T cell epitopes that were identified using a major histocompatibility complex-binding algorithm(4) for recognition by TILs. Using this approach, we identified mutated antigens expressed on autologous tumor cells that were recognized by three bulk TIL lines from three individuals with melanoma that were associated with objective tumor regressions following adoptive transfer. This simplified approach for identifying mutated antigens recognized by T cells avoids the need to generate and laboriously screen cDNA libraries from tumors and may represent a generally applicable method for identifying mutated antigens expressed in a variety of tumor types.
Exon capture analysis of G protein-coupled receptors identifies activating mutations in GRM3 in melanoma(2011) Nature Genetics. 43, 11, p. 1119-U114 Abstract
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), the largest human gene family, are important regulators of signaling pathways. However, knowledge of their genetic alterations is limited. In this study, we used exon capture and massively parallel sequencing methods to analyze the mutational status of 734 GPCRs in melanoma. This investigation revealed that one family member, GRM3, was frequently mutated and that one of its mutations clustered within one position. Biochemical analysis of GRM3 alterations revealed that mutant GRM3 selectively regulated the phosphorylation of MEK, leading to increased anchorage-independent growth and migration. Melanoma cells expressing mutant GRM3 had reduced cell growth and cellular migration after short hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown of GRM3 or treatment with a selective MEK inhibitor, AZD-6244, which is currently being used in phase 2 clinical trials. Our study yields the most comprehensive map of genetic alterations in the GPCR gene family.
(2011) Nature Genetics. 43, 5, p. 442-446 Abstract
The incidence of melanoma is increasing more than any other cancer, and knowledge of its genetic alterations is limited. To systematically analyze such alterations, we performed whole-exome sequencing of 14 matched normal and metastatic tumor DNAs. Using stringent criteria, we identified 68 genes that appeared to be somatically mutated at elevated frequency, many of which are not known to be genetically altered in tumors. Most importantly, we discovered that TRRAP harbored a recurrent mutation that clustered in one position (p. Ser722Phe) in 6 out of 167 affected individuals (similar to 4%), as well as a previously unidentified gene, GRIN2A, which was mutated in 33% of melanoma samples. The nature, pattern and functional evaluation of the TRRAP recurrent mutation suggest that TRRAP functions as an oncogene. Our study provides, to our knowledge, the most comprehensive map of genetic alterations in melanoma to date and suggests that the glutamate signaling pathway is involved in this disease.
(2009) Nature Genetics. 41, 10, p. 1127-1132 Abstract
Tyrosine phosphorylation is important in signaling pathways underlying tumorigenesis. We performed a mutational analysis of the protein tyrosine kinase (PTK) gene family in cutaneous metastatic melanoma. We identified 30 somatic mutations affecting the kinase domains of 19 PTKs and subsequently evaluated the entire coding regions of the genes encoding these 19 PTKs for somatic mutations in 79 melanoma samples. We found ERBB4 mutations in 19% of individuals with melanoma and found mutations in two other kinases (FLT1 and PTK2B) in 10% of individuals with melanomas. We examined seven missense mutations in the most commonly altered PTK gene, ERBB4, and found that they resulted in increased kinase activity and transformation ability. Melanoma cells expressing mutant ERBB4 had reduced cell growth after shRNA-mediated knockdown of ERBB4 or treatment with the ERBB inhibitor lapatinib. These studies could lead to personalized therapeutics specifically targeting the kinases that are mutationally altered in individual melanomas.
(2009) Nature Genetics. 41, 5, p. 518-520 Abstract
A mutational analysis of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) gene family in human melanoma identified somatic mutations in 23% of melanomas. Five mutations in one of the most commonly mutated genes, MMP8, reduced MMP enzyme activity. Expression of wild-type but not mutant MMP8 in human melanoma cells inhibited growth on soft agar in vitro and tumor formation in vivo, suggesting that wild-type MMP-8 has the ability to inhibit melanoma progression.