Mutational Analysis of Gene Fusions Predicts Novel MHC Class I-Restricted T cell Epitopes and Immune Signatures in a Subset of Prostate Cancer

Kalina JL, Neilson DS, Lin YY, Hamilton PT, Comber AP, Loy EMH, Sahinalp SC, Collins CC, Hach F, Lum JJ
27 September 2017
Clin Cancer Res


Purpose: Gene fusions are frequently found in prostate cancer and may result in the formation of unique chimeric amino acid sequences (CASQ) that span the breakpoint of two fused gene products. This study evaluated the potential for fusion-derived CASQs to be a source of tumor neoepitopes, and determined their relationship to patterns of immune signatures in prostate cancer patients.

Experimental Design: A computational strategy was used to identify CASQs and their corresponding predicted MHC class I epitopes using RNA-Seq data from The Cancer Genome Atlas of prostate tumors. In vitro peptide-specific T-cell expansion was performed to identify CASQ-reactive T cells. A multivariate analysis was used to relate patterns of in silico–predicted tumor-infiltrating immune cells with prostate tumors harboring these mutational events.

Results: Eighty-seven percent of tumors contained gene fusions with a mean of 12 per tumor. In total, 41% of fusion-positive tumors were found to encode CASQs. Within these tumors, 87% gave rise to predicted MHC class I–binding epitopes. This observation was more prominent when patients were stratified into low- and intermediate/high-risk categories. One of the identified CASQ from the recurrent TMPRSS2:ERG type VI fusion contained several high-affinity HLA-restricted epitopes. These peptides bound HLA-A*02:01 in vitro and were recognized by CD8+ T cells. Finally, the presence of fusions and CASQs were associated with expression of immune cell infiltration.

Conclusions: Mutanome analysis of gene fusion-derived CASQs can give rise to patient-specific predicted neoepitopes. Moreover, these fusions predicted patterns of immune cell infiltration within a subgroup of prostate cancer patients. Clin Cancer Res; 23(24); 7596–607. ©2017 AACR.