Intratumoral Plasmid IL12 Expands CD8+ T Cells and Induces a CXCR3 Gene Signature in Triple-negative Breast Tumors that Sensitizes Patients to Anti-PD-1 Therapy.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

PURPOSE: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive disease with limited therapeutic options. Antibodies targeting programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1)/PD-1 ligand 1 (PD-L1) have entered the therapeutic landscape in TNBC, but only a minority of patients benefit. A way to reliably enhance immunogenicity, T-cell infiltration, and predict responsiveness is critically needed. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Using mouse models of TNBC, we evaluate immune activation and tumor targeting of intratumoral IL12 plasmid followed by electroporation (tavokinogene telseplasmid; Tavo). We further present a single-arm, prospective clinical trial of Tavo monotherapy in patients with treatment refractory, advanced TNBC (OMS-I140). Finally, we expand these findings using publicly available breast cancer and melanoma datasets. RESULTS: Single-cell RNA sequencing of murine tumors identified a CXCR3 gene signature (CXCR3-GS) following Tavo treatment associated with enhanced antigen presentation, T-cell infiltration and expansion, and PD-1/PD-L1 expression. Assessment of pretreatment and posttreatment tissue from patients confirms enrichment of this CXCR3-GS in tumors from patients that exhibited an enhancement of CD8+ T-cell infiltration following treatment. One patient, previously unresponsive to anti-PD-L1 therapy, but who exhibited an increased CXCR3-GS after Tavo treatment, went on to receive additional anti-PD-1 therapy as their immediate next treatment after OMS-I140, and demonstrated a significant clinical response. CONCLUSIONS: These data show a safe, effective intratumoral therapy that can enhance antigen presentation and recruit CD8 T cells, which are required for the antitumor efficacy. We identify a Tavo treatment-related gene signature associated with improved outcomes and conversion of nonresponsive tumors, potentially even beyond TNBC.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Telli, ML; Nagata, H; Wapnir, I; Acharya, CR; Zablotsky, K; Fox, BA; Bifulco, CB; Jensen, SM; Ballesteros-Merino, C; Le, MH; Pierce, RH; Browning, E; Hermiz, R; Svenson, L; Bannavong, D; Jaffe, K; Sell, J; Foerter, KM; Canton, DA; Twitty, CG; Osada, T; Lyerly, HK; Crosby, EJ

Published Date

  • May 1, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 27 / 9

Start / End Page

  • 2481 - 2493

PubMed ID

  • 33593880

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8102331

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1557-3265

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-20-3944


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States