China Scholarship Council
Key Laboratory of Submarine Geosciences, Second Institute of Oceanography, MNR, Hangzhou
ARTICLE ABSTRACTMalignant progression exhibits a tightly orchestrated balance between immune effector response and tolerance. However, underlying molecular principles that drive the establishment and maintenance of the tumor immune phenotype remain to be elucidated.
We trained a novel molecular classifier based on immune cell subsets related to programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) and interferon γ (IFNγ) expression, which revealed distinct subgroups with higher (cluster A) or lower (subcluster B3) cytotoxic immune phenotypes. Integrative analysis of multi-omics data was conducted to identify differences in genetic and epigenetic landscapes as well as their impact on differentially expressed genes (DEG) among immune phenotypes. A prognostic gene signature for immune checkpoint inhibition (ICI) was established by a least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO)-Cox regression model.
Mutational landscape analyses unraveled a higher frequency of CASP8 somatic mutations in subcluster A1, while subcluster B3 exhibited a characteristic pattern of copy-number alterations affecting chemokine signaling and immune effector response. The integrative multi-omics approach identified EGFR and PTGS2 as key nodes in a gene regulatory network related to the immune phenotype, and several DEGs related to the immune phenotypes were affected by EGFR inhibition in tumor cell lines. Finally, we established a prognostic gene signature by a LASSO-Cox regression model based on DEGs between nonprogressive disease and progressive disease subgroups for ICI.
Our data highlight a complex interplay between genetic and epigenetic events in the establishment of the tumor immune phenotype and provide compelling experimental evidence that a patient with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck at higher risk for ICI treatment failure might benefit from a combination with EGFR inhibition.