Tumors commonly harbor multiple genetic alterations, some of which initiate tumorigenesis. Among these, some tumor-specific somatic mutations resulting in mutated protein have the potential to induce antitumor immune responses. To examine the relevance of the latter to immune responses in the tumor and to patient outcomes, we used datasets of whole-exome and RNA sequencing from 97 clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) patients to identify neoepitopes predicted to be presented by each patient's autologous HLA molecules. We found that the number of nonsilent or missense mutations did not correlate with patient prognosis. However, combining the number of HLA-restricted neoepitopes with the cell surface expression of HLA or β2-microglobulin(β2M) revealed that an A-neohi/HLA-Ahi or ABC-neohi/β2Mhi phenotype correlated with better clinical outcomes. Higher expression of immune-related genes from CD8 T cells and their effector molecules [CD8A, perforin (PRF1) and granzyme A (GZMA)], however, did not correlate with prognosis. This may have been due to the observed correlation of these genes with the expression of other genes that were associated with immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment (CTLA-4, PD-1, LAG-3, PD-L1, PD-L2, IDO1, and IL10). This suggested that abundant neoepitopes associated with greater antitumor effector immune responses were counterbalanced by a strongly immunosuppressive microenvironment. Therefore, immunosuppressive molecules should be considered high-priority targets for modulating immune responses in patients with ccRCC. Blockade of these molecular pathways could be combined with immunotherapies targeting neoantigens to achieve synergistic antitumor activity. Cancer Immunol Res; 4(5); 463–71. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Immunology Research Online (http://cancerimmunolres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received September 9, 2015.
- Revision received December 28, 2015.
- Accepted February 5, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.