Association of Homologous Recombination-DNA Damage Response Gene Mutations with Immune Biomarkers in Gastroesophageal Cancers


Michael Cerniglia 1, Joanne Xiu 2, Axel Grothey 3, Michael J Pishvaian 4, Yasmine Baca 5, Jimmy J Hwang 6, John L Marshall 7, Ari M VanderWalde 8, Anthony F Shields 9, Heinz-Josef Lenz 10, W Michael Korn 5, Mohamed Salem 11, Philip A Philip 12, Richard M Goldberg 13, Jia Zeng 14, Sunnie S Kim 15


The prevalence of homologous recombination–DNA damage response (HR-DDR) genetic alterations is of therapeutic interest in gastroesophageal cancers. This study is a comprehensive assessment of HR-DDR mutation prevalence across gastroesophageal adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. Here we investigate the association of HR-DDR mutations with known predictors for immune-checkpoint inhibition [deficiency in mismatch-repair (dMMRP), tumor mutational burden (TMB), and programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1)]. We confirmed HR-DDR mutations are present in a subset of gastroesophageal adenocarcinomas (23%) and gastroesophageal squamous cell carcinomas (20%). Biomarker expression of dMMRP (18% vs. 1%) and TMB-high with a cutoff of ≥10 mt/MB (27% vs. 9%) was significantly more prevalent in the DDR-mutated cohort compared with the non-DDR-mutated cohort. Mean combined positive score for PD-L1 in the total adenocarcinoma cohort was significantly higher in the DDR-mutated cohort compared with the non–DDR-mutated cohort (10.1 vs. 5.8). We demonstrated that alterations in ARID1ABRCA2PTEN, and ATM are correlated with dMMRP, TMB-high, and increased PD-L1 expression in gastroesophageal adenocarcinomas. Our findings show that a subset of gastroesophageal tumors harbor HR-DDR mutations correlated with established immune biomarkers. By better understanding the relationship between HR-DDR mutations and immune biomarkers, we may be able to develop better immunotherapy combination strategies to target these tumors.

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