Background: Therapeutic regimens designed to augment the immunological response of a patient with breast cancer (BC) to tumor tissue are critically informed by tumor mutational burden and the antigenicity of expressed neoepitopes. Herein we describe a neoepitope and cognate neoepitope-reactive T-cell identification and validation program that supports the development of next-generation immunotherapies.
Methods: Using GPS Cancer, NantOmics research, and The Cancer Genome Atlas databases, we developed a novel bioinformatic-based approach which assesses mutational load, neoepitope expression, human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-binding prediction, and in vitro confirmation of T-cell recognition to preferentially identify targetable neoepitopes. This program was validated by application to a BC cell line and confirmed using tumor biopsies from two patients with BC enrolled in the Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes and Genomics (TILGen) study.
Results: The antigenicity and HLA-A2 restriction of the BC cell line predicted neoepitopes were determined by reactivity of T cells from HLA-A2-expressing healthy donors. For the TILGen subjects, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) recognized the predicted neoepitopes both as peptides and on retroviral expression in HLA-matched Epstein-Barr virus-lymphoblastoid cell line and BC cell line MCF-7 cells; PCR clonotyping revealed the presence of T cells in the periphery with T-cell receptors for the predicted neoepitopes. These high-avidity immune responses were polyclonal, mutation-specific and restricted to either HLA class I or II. Interestingly, we observed the persistence and expansion of polyclonal T-cell responses following neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Conclusions: We demonstrate our neoepitope prediction program allows for the successful identification of neoepitopes targeted by TILs in patients with BC, providing a means to identify tumor-specific immunogenic targets for individualized treatment, including vaccines or adoptively transferred cellular therapies.
Keywords: antigens; breast neoplasms; neoplasm.
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