Characterization of tumor mutation burden, PD-L1 and DNA repair genes to assess relationship to immune checkpoint inhibitors response in metastatic renal cell carcinoma

Matthew Kyle Labriola, Jason Zhu, Rajan Gupta, Shannon McCall, Jennifer Jackson, Eric F. Kong, James R. White, Gustavo Cerqueira, Kelly Gerding, John K. Simmons, Daniel George, Tian Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have expanded treatment options for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC); however, there are limited predictive biomarkers for response to ICIs in this indication, with programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) status demonstrating little predictive utility in mRCC. While predictive of ICI response in other tumor types, the utility of tumor mutation burden (TMB) in mRCC is unclear. Here, we assess TMB, loss of antigen presentation genes and PD-L1 status correlated with outcomes to ICI treatment in mRCC. Methods Tumor samples from 34 patients with mRCC treated with ICI therapy at Duke Cancer Institute were retrospectively evaluated using Personal Genome Diagnostics elio tissue complete (RUO version), a tumor genomic profiling assay for somatic variants, TMB, microsatellite status and genomic status of antigen presentation genes. Tumor samples were also analyzed with the Dako 28-8 PD-L1 immunohistochemistry assay. Deidentified clinical information was extracted from the medical record, and tumor response was evaluated based on the Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors (RECIST) V.1.1 criteria. Results Patients were stratified by overall response following ICI therapy and designated as progressive disease (PD; n=18) or disease control groups (DC; n=16). TMB scores ranged from 0.36 to 12.24 mutations/Mb (mean 2.83 mutations/Mb) with no significant difference between the PD and DC groups (3.01 vs 2.63 mutations/Mb, respectively; p=0.7682). Interestingly, 33% of PD patients displayed loss of heterozygosity of major histocompatibility complex class I genes (LOH-MHC) vs 6% of DC patients. Nine of 34 samples were PD-L1-positive (4 in the PD group; 5 in the DC group), suggesting no correlation between PD-L1 expression and response to ICI therapy. Notably, the DC group displayed an enrichment of mutations in DNA repair genes (p=0.04), with 68.8% exhibiting at least one mutated homologous recombination repair (HRR)-related gene compared with only 38.9% of the PD group (p=0.03). Conclusions Overall, neither TMB nor PD-L1 correlated with ICI response and TMB was not significantly associated with PD-L1 expression. The higher incidence of LOH-MHC in PD group suggests that loss of antigen presentation may restrict response to ICIs. Separately, enrichment of HRR gene mutations in the DC group suggests potential utility in predicting ICI response and a potential therapeutic target, warranting future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere000319
JournalJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 26 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Genitourinary medicine
  • Immunology
  • Molecular immunogene
  • Oncology
  • Tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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