Breast cancer is marked by specific, Public T-cell receptor CDR3 regions shared by mice and humans

PLoS Comput Biol. 2021 Jan 19;17(1):e1008486. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008486. eCollection 2021 Jan.


The partial success of tumor immunotherapy induced by checkpoint blockade, which is not antigen-specific, suggests that the immune system of some patients contain antigen receptors able to specifically identify tumor cells. Here we focused on T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoires associated with spontaneous breast cancer. We studied the alpha and beta chain CDR3 domains of TCR repertoires of CD4 T cells using deep sequencing of cell populations in mice and applied the results to published TCR sequence data obtained from human patients. We screened peripheral blood T cells obtained monthly from individual mice spontaneously developing breast tumors by 5 months. We then looked at identical TCR sequences in published human studies; we used TCGA data from tumors and healthy tissues of 1,256 breast cancer resections and from 4 focused studies including sequences from tumors, lymph nodes, blood and healthy tissues, and from single cell dataset of 3 breast cancer subjects. We now report that mice spontaneously developing breast cancer manifest shared, Public CDR3 regions in both their alpha and beta and that a significant number of women with early breast cancer manifest identical CDR3 sequences. These findings suggest that the development of breast cancer is associated, across species, with biomarker, exclusive TCR repertoires.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms* / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Complementarity Determining Regions / chemistry
  • Complementarity Determining Regions / genetics*
  • Complementarity Determining Regions / metabolism
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Female
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell* / chemistry
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell* / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell* / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes


  • Complementarity Determining Regions
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell

Grant support

S.E - This research was supported in part by Israel Science Foundation, number 582/19 and by the Binational Science Foundation 2019090. G.Y. is partially supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF [832/16]). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.