Cross-platform comparison of immune signatures in immunotherapy-treated patients with advanced melanoma using a rank-based scoring approach

J Transl Med. 2023 Apr 13;21(1):257. doi: 10.1186/s12967-023-04092-9.


Background: Gene expression profiling is increasingly being utilised as a diagnostic, prognostic and predictive tool for managing cancer patients. Single-sample scoring approach has been developed to alleviate instability of signature scores due to variations from sample composition. However, it is a challenge to achieve comparable signature scores across different expressional platforms.

Methods: The pre-treatment biopsies from a total of 158 patients, who have received single-agent anti-PD-1 (n = 84) or anti-PD-1 + anti-CTLA-4 therapy (n = 74), were performed using NanoString PanCancer IO360 Panel. Multiple immune-related signature scores were measured from a single-sample rank-based scoring approach, singscore. We assessed the reproducibility and the performance in reporting immune profile of singscore based on NanoString assay in advance melanoma. To conduct cross-platform analyses, singscores between the immune profiles of NanoString assay and the previous orthogonal whole transcriptome sequencing (WTS) data were compared through linear regression and cross-platform prediction.

Results: singscore-derived signature scores reported significantly high scores in responders in multiple PD-1, MHC-1-, CD8 T-cell-, antigen presentation-, cytokine- and chemokine-related signatures. We found that singscore provided stable and reproducible signature scores among the repeats in different batches and cross-sample normalisations. The cross-platform comparisons confirmed that singscores derived via NanoString and WTS were comparable. When singscore of WTS generated by the overlapping genes to the NanoString gene set, the signatures generated highly correlated cross-platform scores (Spearman correlation interquartile range (IQR) [0.88, 0.92] and r2 IQR [0.77, 0.81]) and better prediction on cross-platform response (AUC = 86.3%). The model suggested that Tumour Inflammation Signature (TIS) and Personalised Immunotherapy Platform (PIP) PD-1 are informative signatures for predicting immunotherapy-response outcomes in advanced melanoma patients treated with anti-PD-1-based therapies.

Conclusions: Overall, the outcome of this study confirms that singscore based on NanoString data is a feasible approach to produce reliable signature scores for determining patients' immune profiles and the potential clinical utility in biomarker implementation, as well as to conduct cross-platform comparisons, such as WTS.

Keywords: Advanced melanoma; Cross-platform analyses; Gene expression profile; Immune signature; Immunotherapy; Single-sample signature score.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Melanoma* / drug therapy
  • Melanoma* / therapy
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Biomarkers