Lymphocytes are key for immune surveillance of tumors, but our understanding of the spatial organization and physical interactions that facilitate lymphocyte anti-cancer functions is limited. We used multiplexed imaging, quantitative spatial analysis, and machine learning to create high-definition maps of lung tumors from a Kras/Trp53-mutant mouse model and human resections. Networks of interacting lymphocytes ("lymphonets") emerged as a distinctive feature of the anti-cancer immune response. Lymphonets nucleated from small T cell clusters and incorporated B cells with increasing size. CXCR3-mediated trafficking modulated lymphonet size and number, but T cell antigen expression directed intratumoral localization. Lymphonets preferentially harbored TCF1+ PD-1+ progenitor CD8+ T cells involved in responses to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) therapy. Upon treatment of mice with ICB or an antigen-targeted vaccine, lymphonets retained progenitor and gained cytotoxic CD8+ T cell populations, likely via progenitor differentiation. These data show that lymphonets create a spatial environment supportive of CD8+ T cell anti-tumor responses.
Keywords: CyCIF; cancer vaccines; computational biology; immunotherapy; lung adenocarcinoma; multimodal data integration; multiplexed imaging; spatial biology; spatial profiling; systems biology.
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