PTEN Loss and BRCA1 Promoter Hypermethylation Negatively Predict for Immunogenicity in BRCA-Deficient Ovarian Cancer

Adam A. Kraya, Kara N. Maxwell, Monika A. Eiva, Bradley Wubbenhorst, John Pluta, Michael Feldman, Anupma Nayak, Daniel J. Powell, Susan M. Domchek, Robert H. Vonderheide, Katherine L. Nathanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


PURPOSE Ovarian cancers can exhibit a prominent immune infiltrate, but clinical trials have not demonstrated substantive response rates to immune checkpoint blockade monotherapy. We aimed to understand genomic features associated with immunogenicity in BRCA1/2 mutation–associated cancers. MATERIALS AND METHODS Using the Cancer Genome Atlas whole-exome sequencing, methylation, and expression data, we analyzed 66 ovarian cancers with either germline or somatic loss of BRCA1/2 and whole-exome sequencing, immunohistochemistry, and CyTOF in 20 ovarian cancers with germline BRCA1/2 pathogenic variants from Penn. RESULTS We found two groups of BRCA1/2 ovarian cancers differing in their immunogenicity: (1) 37 tumors significantly enriched for PTEN loss (11, 30%) and BRCA1 promoter–hypermethylated (10, 27%; P = .0016) and (2) PTEN wild-type (28 of 29 tumors) cancers, with the latter group having longer overall survival (OS; P = .0186, median OS not reached v median OS = 66.1 months). BRCA1/2-mutant PTEN loss and BRCA1 promoter–hypermethylated cancers were characterized by the decreased composition of lymphocytes estimated by gene expression (P = .0030), cytolytic index (P = .034), and cytokine expression but higher homologous recombination deficiency scores (P = .00013). Large-scale state transitions were the primary discriminating feature (P = .001); neither mutational burden nor neoantigen burden could explain differences in immunogenicity. In Penn tumors, PTEN loss and high homologous recombination deficiency cancers exhibited fewer CD3+ (P = .05), CD8+ (P = .012), and FOXP3+ (P = .0087) T cells; decreased PRF1 expression (P = .041); and lower immune costimulatory and inhibitory molecule expression. CONCLUSION Our study suggests that within ovarian cancers with genetic loss of BRCA1/2 are two subsets exhibiting differential immunogenicity, with lower levels associated with PTEN loss and BRCA hypermethylation. These genomic features of BRCA1/2-associated ovarian cancers may inform considerations around how to optimally deploy immune checkpoint inhibitors in the clinic.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2100159
JournalJCO Precision Oncology
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


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