Neoantigen Fitness Model Predicts Lower Immune Recognition of Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinomas Than Actinic Keratoses

Elizabeth S. Borden, Paul Kang, Heini M. Natri, Tanya N. Phung, Melissa A. Wilson, Kenneth H. Buetow, Karen Taraszka Hastings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

A low percentage of actinic keratoses progress to develop into cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. The immune mechanisms that successfully control or eliminate the majority of actinic keratoses and the mechanisms of immune escape by invasive squamous cell carcinoma are not well-understood. Here, we took a systematic approach to evaluate the neoantigens present in actinic keratosis and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma specimens. We compared the number of mutations, the number of neoantigens predicted to bind MHC class I, and the number of neoantigens that are predicted to bind MHC class I and be recognized by a T cell receptor in actinic keratoses and cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas. We also considered the relative binding strengths to both MHC class I and the T cell receptor in a fitness cost model that allows for a comparison of the immune recognition potential of the neoantigens in actinic keratosis and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma samples. The fitness cost was subsequently adjusted by the expression rates of the neoantigens to examine the role of neoantigen expression in tumor immune evasion. Our analyses indicate that, while the number of mutations and neoantigens are not significantly different between actinic keratoses and cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas, the predicted immune recognition of the neoantigen with the highest expression-adjusted fitness cost is lower for cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas compared with actinic keratoses. These findings suggest a role for the down-regulation of expression of highly immunogenic neoantigens in the immune escape of cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas. Furthermore, these findings highlight the importance of incorporating additional factors, such as the quality and expression of the neoantigens, rather than focusing solely on tumor mutational burden, in assessing immune recognition potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2799
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Volume10
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 29 2019

Keywords

  • MHC class I
  • T cell receptor
  • actinic keratosis
  • cancer
  • cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma
  • immunoediting
  • neoantigen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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