Mutations in DNA repair genes are associated with increased neo-antigen load and activated T cell infiltration in lung adenocarcinoma

Young Kwang Chae*, Jonathan F. Anker, Preeti Bais, Sandeep Namburi, Francis Joseph Giles, Jeffrey H. Chuang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Mutations in DNA repair genes lead to increased genomic instability and mutation frequency. These mutations represent potential biomarkers for cancer immunotherapy efficacy, as high tumor mutational burden has been associated with increased neoantigens and tumor infiltrating lymphocytes. While mismatch repair mutations have successfully predicted response to anti-PD-1 therapy in colorectal and other cancers, they have not yet been tested for lung cancer, and few have investigated genes from other DNA repair pathways. We utilized TCGA samples to comprehensively immunophenotype lung tumors and analyze the links between DNA repair mutations, neo-antigen and total mutational burden, and tumor immune infiltration. Overall, 73% of lung tumors contained infiltration by at least one T cell subset, with high mutational burden tumors containing significantly increased infiltration by activated CD4 and CD8 T cells. Further, mutations in mismatch repair genes, homologous recombination genes, or POLE accurately predicted increased tumor mutational burden, neo-antigen load, and T cell infiltration. Finally, neo-antigen load correlated with expression of M1-polarized macrophage genes, PD-1, PD-L1, IFNγ, GZMB, and FASLG, among other immune-related genes. Overall, after defining the immune infiltrate in lung tumors, we demonstrate the potential value of utilizing gene mutations from multiple DNA repair pathways as biomarkers for lung cancer immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7949-7960
Number of pages12
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2018


  • DNA repair
  • Lung cancer
  • Neo-antigens
  • Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes
  • Tumor mutational burden

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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