Multimodel preclinical platform predicts clinical response of melanoma to immunotherapy

Nat Med. 2020 May;26(5):781-791. doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-0818-3. Epub 2020 Apr 13.


Although immunotherapy has revolutionized cancer treatment, only a subset of patients demonstrate durable clinical benefit. Definitive predictive biomarkers and targets to overcome resistance remain unidentified, underscoring the urgency to develop reliable immunocompetent models for mechanistic assessment. Here we characterize a panel of syngeneic mouse models, representing a variety of molecular and phenotypic subtypes of human melanomas and exhibiting their diverse range of responses to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB). Comparative analysis of genomic, transcriptomic and tumor-infiltrating immune cell profiles demonstrated alignment with clinical observations and validated the correlation of T cell dysfunction and exclusion programs with resistance. Notably, genome-wide expression analysis uncovered a melanocytic plasticity signature predictive of patient outcome in response to ICB, suggesting that the multipotency and differentiation status of melanoma can determine ICB benefit. Our comparative preclinical platform recapitulates melanoma clinical behavior and can be employed to identify mechanisms and treatment strategies to improve patient care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / therapeutic use
  • CTLA-4 Antigen / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor* / methods
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Genetic Heterogeneity
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy* / adverse effects
  • Immunotherapy* / methods
  • Ipilimumab / therapeutic use
  • Melanoma / diagnosis
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Prognosis
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor / immunology
  • RNA-Seq
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Whole Genome Sequencing


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological
  • CTLA-4 Antigen
  • Ipilimumab
  • PDCD1 protein, human
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor