Interlesional diversity of T cell receptors in melanoma with immune checkpoints enriched in tissue-resident memory T cells.


Heterogeneity of tumor cells and their microenvironment can affect outcome in cancer. Blockade of immune checkpoints (ICPs) expressed only on a subset of immune cells leads to durable responses in advanced melanoma. Tissue-resident memory T (TRM) cells have recently emerged as a distinct subset of memory T cells in nonlymphoid tissues. Here, we show that functional properties and expression of ICPs within tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) differ from those of blood T cells. TILs secrete less IL-2, IFN-gamma, and TNF-alpha compared with circulating counterparts, and expression of VEGF correlated with reduced TIL infiltration. Within tumors, ICPs are particularly enriched within T cells with phenotype and genomic features of TRM cells and the CD16(+) subset of myeloid cells. Concurrent T cell receptor (TCR) and tumor exome sequencing of individual metastases in the same patient revealed that interlesional diversity of TCRs exceeded differences in mutation/neoantigen load in tumor cells. These findings suggest that the TRM subset of TILs may be the major target of ICP blockade and illustrate interlesional diversity of tissue-resident TCRs within individual metastases, which did not equilibrate between metastases and may differentially affect the outcome of immune therapy at each site.

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