Mining exomic sequencing data to identify mutated antigens recognized by adoptively transferred tumor-reactive T cells

Substantial regressions of metastatic lesions have been observed in up to 70% of patients with melanoma who received adoptively transferred autologous tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in phase 2 clinical trials1, 2. In addition, 40% of patients treated in a recent trial experienced complete regressions of all measurable lesions for at least 5 years following TIL treatment3. To evaluate the potential association between the ability of TILs to mediate durable regressions and their ability to recognize potent antigens that presumably include mutated gene products, we developed a new screening approach involving mining whole-exome sequence data to identify mutated proteins expressed in patient tumors. We then synthesized and evaluated candidate mutated T cell epitopes that were identified using a major histocompatibility complex–binding algorithm4 for recognition by TILs.