Neoantigen landscape dynamics during human melanoma–T cell interactions

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Abstract

Recognition of neoantigens that are formed as a consequence of DNA damage is likely to form a major driving force behind the clinical activity of cancer immunotherapies such as T-cell checkpoint blockade and adoptive T-cell therapy1,2,3,4,5,6,7. Therefore, strategies to selectively enhance T-cell reactivity against genetically defined neoantigens1,8,9,10,11are currently under development. In mouse models, T-cell pressure can sculpt the antigenicity of tumours, resulting in the emergence of tumours that lack defined mutant antigens12,13. However, whether the T-cell-recognized neoantigen repertoire in human cancers is constant over time is unclear. Here we analyse the stability of neoantigen-specific T-cell responses and the antigens they recognize in two patients with stage IV melanoma treated by adoptive T-cell transfer. The T-cell-recognized neoantigens can be selectively lost from the tumour cell population, either by overall reduced expression of the genes or loss of the mutant alleles. Notably, loss of expression of T-cell-recognized neoantigens was accompanied by development of neoantigen-specific T-cell reactivity in tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes. These data demonstrate the dynamic interactions between cancer cells and T cells, which suggest that T cells mediate neoantigen immunoediting, and indicate that the therapeutic induction of broad neoantigen-specific T-cell responses should be used to avoid tumour resistance.

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