Background: The role of tumor-infiltrating B-cells (TIBs) and intratumorally-produced antibodies in cancer-immunity interactions essentially remains terra incognita. In particular, it remains unexplored how driver mutations could be associated with distinct TIBs signatures and their role in tumor microenvironment.
Methods: Here we analyzed associations of immunoglobulin isotypes and clonality with survival in TCGA RNA-Seq data for lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD), stratifying patients into 12 driver mutation and phenotypic tumor subgroups.
Results: We revealed several unexpected associations between TIBs behavior and prognosis. Abundance and high proportion of IgG1 isotype, and low proportion of IgA among all intratumorally produced immunoglobulins were specifically associated with improved overall survival for KRASmut but not KRASwt LUAD, revealing the first link between a driver mutation and B-cell response. We found specific IgG1 signature associated with long survival, which suggests that particular specificities of IgG1+ TIBs could be beneficial in KRASmut LUAD. In contrast to our previous observations for melanoma, highly clonal IgG1 production by plasma cells had no meaningful effect on prognosis, suggesting that IgG1+ TIBs may exert a beneficial effect in KRASmut cases in an alternative way, such as efficient presentation of cognate antigens or direct B cell attack on tumor cells. Notably, a high proportion of the IgG1 isotype is positively correlated with the non-silent mutation burden both in the general LUAD cohort and in most patient subgroups, supporting a role for IgG1+ TIBs in antigen presentation. Complementing the recent finding that the presence of stromal IgG4-producing cells is associated with a favorable prognosis for patients with stage I squamous cell carcinoma, we show that the abundance of IgG4-producing TIBs likewise has a strong positive effect on overall survival in STK11mut and proximal proliferative subgroups of LUAD patients. We hypothesize that the positive role of IgG4 antibodies in some of the lung cancer subtypes could be associated with reported inability of IgG4 isotype to form immune complexes, thus preventing immunosuppression via activation of the myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MDSC) phenotype.
Conclusions: We discover prominent and distinct associations between TIBs antibody isotypes and survival in lung adenocarcinoma carrying specific driver mutations. These findings indicate that particular types of tumor-immunity relations could be beneficial in particular driver mutation context, which should be taken into account in developing strategies of cancer immunotherapy and combination therapies. Specificity of protective B cell populations in specific cancer subgroups could become a clue to efficient targeted immunotherapies for appropriate cohorts of patients.