Pathogenic ATM Mutations in Cancer and a Genetic Basis for Radiotherapeutic Efficacy

Kenneth L. Pitter, Dana L. Casey, Yue C. Lu, Margaret Hannum, Zhigang Zhang, Xinmao Song, Isabella Pecorari, Biko Mcmillan, Jennifer Ma, Robert M. Samstein, Isaac X. Pei, Atif J. Khan, Lior Z. Braunstein, Luc G.T. Morris, Christopher A. Barker, Andreas Rimner, Kaled M. Alektiar, Paul B. Romesser, Christopher H. Crane, Joachim YahalomMichael J. Zelefsky, Howard I. Scher, Jonine L. Bernstein, Diana L. Mandelker, Britta Weigelt, Jorge S. Reis-Filho, Nancy Y. Lee, Simon N. Powell, Timothy A. Chan, Nadeem Riaz, Jeremy Setton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Radiation therapy is one of the most commonly used cancer therapeutics but genetic determinants of clinical benefit are poorly characterized. Pathogenic germline variants in ATM are known to cause ataxia-telangiectasia, a rare hereditary syndrome notable for marked radiosensitivity. In contrast, somatic inactivation of ATM is a common event in a wide variety of cancers, but its clinical actionability remains obscure. Methods: We analyzed 20 107 consecutively treated advanced cancer patients who underwent targeted genomic sequencing as part of an institutional genomic profiling initiative and identified 1085 harboring a somatic or germline ATM mutation, including 357 who received radiotherapy (RT). Outcomes of irradiated tumors harboring ATM loss-of-function (LoF) mutations were compared with those harboring variants of unknown significance. All statistical tests were 2-sided. Results: Among 357 pan-cancer patients who received 727 courses of RT, genetic inactivation of ATM was associated with improved radiotherapeutic efficacy. The 2-year cumulative incidence of irradiated tumor progression was 13.2% vs 27.5% for tumors harboring an ATM LoF vs variant of unknown significance allele, respectively (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.51, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.34 to 0.77, P =. 001). The greatest clinical benefit was seen in tumors harboring biallelic ATM inactivation (HR = 0.19, 95% CI = 0.06 to 0.60, P =. 005), with statistically significant benefit also observed in tumors with monoallelic ATM inactivation (HR = 0.57, 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.92, P =. 02). Notably, ATM LoF was highly predictive of outcome in TP53 wild-type tumors but not among TP53-mutant tumors. Conclusions: We demonstrate that somatic ATM inactivation is associated with markedly improved tumor control following RT. The identification of a radio-sensitive tumor phenotype across multiple cancer types offers potential clinical opportunities for genomically guided RT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-273
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


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