Clonal neoantigens elicit T cell immunoreactivity and sensitivity to immune checkpoint blockade

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  25 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6280, pp. 1463-1469
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf1490

The cellular ancestry of tumor antigens

One contributing factor in antitumor immunity is the repertoire of neoantigens created by genetic mutations within tumor cells. Like the corresponding mutations, these neoantigens show intratumoral heterogeneity. Some are present in all tumor cells (clonal), and others are present in only a fraction of cells (subclonal). In a study of lung cancer and melanoma, McGranahan et al. found that a high burden of clonal tumor neoantigens correlated with improved patient survival, an increased presence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, and a durable response to immunotherapy.

Science, this issue p. 1463


As tumors grow, they acquire mutations, some of which create neoantigens that influence the response of patients to immune checkpoint inhibitors. We explored the impact of neoantigen intratumor heterogeneity (ITH) on antitumor immunity. Through integrated analysis of ITH and neoantigen burden, we demonstrate a relationship between clonal neoantigen burden and overall survival in primary lung adenocarcinomas. CD8+ tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes reactive to clonal neoantigens were identified in early-stage non–small cell lung cancer and expressed high levels of PD-1. Sensitivity to PD-1 and CTLA-4 blockade in patients with advanced NSCLC and melanoma was enhanced in tumors enriched for clonal neoantigens. T cells recognizing clonal neoantigens were detectable in patients with durable clinical benefit. Cytotoxic chemotherapy–induced subclonal neoantigens, contributing to an increased mutational load, were enriched in certain poor responders. These data suggest that neoantigen heterogeneity may influence immune surveillance and support therapeutic developments targeting clonal neoantigens.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science