MET-Oncogenic and JAK2-Inactivating Alterations Are Independent Factors That Affect Regulation of PD-L1 Expression in Lung Cancer

Clin Cancer Res. 2018 Sep 15;24(18):4579-4587. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-18-0267. Epub 2018 Jun 13.


Purpose: The blockade of immune checkpoints such as PD-L1 and PD-1 is being exploited therapeutically in several types of malignancies. Here, we aimed to understand the contribution of the genetics of lung cancer to the ability of tumor cells to escape immunosurveillance checkpoints.Experimental Design: More than 150 primary non-small cell lung cancers, including pulmonary sarcomatoid carcinomas, were tested for levels of the HLA-I complex, PD-L1, tumor-infiltrating CD8+ lymphocytes, and alterations in main lung cancer genes. Correlations were validated in cancer cell lines using appropriate treatments to activate or inhibit selected pathways. We also performed RNA sequencing to assess changes in gene expression after these treatments.Results:MET-oncogenic activation tended to associate with positive PD-L1 immunostaining, whereas STK11 mutations were correlated with negative immunostaining. In MET-altered cancer cells, MET triggered a transcriptional increase of PD-L1 that was independent of the IFNγ-mediated JAK/STAT pathway. The activation of MET also upregulated other immunosuppressive genes (PDCD1LG2 and SOCS1) and transcripts involved in angiogenesis (VEGFA and NRP1) and in cell proliferation. We also report recurrent inactivating mutations in JAK2 that co-occur with alterations in MET and STK11, which prevented the induction of immunoresponse-related genes following treatment with IFNγ.Conclusions: We show that MET activation promotes the expression of several negative checkpoint regulators of the immunoresponse, including PD-L1. In addition, we report inactivation of JAK2 in lung cancer cells that prevented the response to IFNγ. These alterations are likely to facilitate tumor growth by enabling immune tolerance and may affect the response to immune checkpoint inhibitors. Clin Cancer Res; 24(18); 4579-87. ©2018 AACR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • B7-H1 Antigen / antagonists & inhibitors
  • B7-H1 Antigen / genetics*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • Janus Kinase 2 / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Neuropilin-1 / genetics
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Ligand 2 Protein
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling 1 Protein / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A


  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • CD274 protein, human
  • IFNG protein, human
  • PDCD1LG2 protein, human
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Ligand 2 Protein
  • SOCS1 protein, human
  • Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling 1 Protein
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Neuropilin-1
  • Interferon-gamma
  • STK11 protein, human
  • MET protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met
  • JAK2 protein, human
  • Janus Kinase 2
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases