The Comprehensive Analysis Identified an Autophagy Signature for the Prognosis and the Immunotherapy Efficiency Prediction in Lung Adenocarcinoma

Front Immunol. 2022 Apr 22;13:749241. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.749241. eCollection 2022.


Background: Lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) is a fatal malignancy in the world. Growing evidence demonstrated that autophagy-related genes regulated the immune cell infiltration and correlated with the prognosis of LUAD. However, the autophagy-based signature that can predict the prognosis and the efficiency of checkpoint immunotherapy in LUAD patients is yet to be discovered.

Methods: We used conventional autophagy-related genes to screen candidates for signature construction in TCGA cohort and 9 GEO datasets (tumor samples, n=2181; normal samples, n=419). An autophagy-based signature was constructed, its correlation with the prognosis and the immune infiltration of LUAD patients was explored. The prognostic value of the autophagy-based signature was validated in an independent cohort with 70 LUAD patients. Single-cell sequencing data was used to further characterize the various immunological patterns in tumors with different signature levels. Moreover, the predictive value of autophagy-based signature in PD-1 immunotherapy was explored in the IMvigor210 dataset. At last, the protective role of DRAM1 in LUAD was validated by in vitro experiments.

Results: After screening autophagy-related gene candidates, a signature composed by CCR2, ITGB1, and DRAM1 was established with the ATscore in each sample. Further analyses showed that the ATscore was significantly associated with immune cell infiltration and low ATscore indicated poor prognosis. Meanwhile, the prognostic value of ATscore was validated in our independent LUAD cohort. GSEA analyses and single-cell sequencing analyses revealed that ATscore was associated with the immunological status of LUAD tumors, and ATscore could predict the efficacy of PD-1 immunotherapy. Moreover, in vitro experiments demonstrated that the inhibition of DRAM1 suppressed the proliferation and migration capacity of LUAD cells.

Conclusion: Our study identified a new autophagy-based signature that can predict the prognosis of LUAD patients, and this ATscore has potential applicative value in the checkpoint therapy efficiency prediction.

Keywords: DRAM1; TCGA; autophagy; gene signature; immune checkpoint therapy; lung adenocarcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma of Lung* / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma of Lung* / therapy
  • Autophagy / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Lung Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor / genetics


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor