Hormone receptor–positive breast cancer (HR+) is immunologically cold and has not benefited from advances in immunotherapy. In contrast, subsets of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) display high leukocytic infiltration and respond to checkpoint blockade. CD8+ T cells, the main effectors of anticancer responses, recognize MHC I–associated peptides (MAPs). Our work aimed to characterize the repertoire of MAPs presented by HR+ and TNBC tumors. Using mass spectrometry, we identified 57,094 unique MAPs in 26 primary breast cancer samples. MAP source genes highly overlapped between both subtypes. We identified 25 tumor-specific antigens (TSAs) mainly deriving from aberrantly expressed regions. TSAs were most frequently identified in TNBC samples and were more shared among The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database TNBC than HR+ samples. In the TNBC cohort, the predicted number of TSAs positively correlated with leukocytic infiltration and overall survival, supporting their immunogenicity in vivo. We detected 49 tumor-associated antigens (TAAs), some of which derived from cancer-associated fibroblasts. Functional expansion of specific T cell assays confirmed the in vitro immunogenicity of several TSAs and TAAs. Our study identified attractive targets for cancer immunotherapy in both breast cancer subtypes. The higher prevalence of TSAs in TNBC tumors provides a rationale for their responsiveness to checkpoint blockade.


Eralda Kina, Jean-Philippe Laverdure, Chantal Durette, Joël Lanoix, Mathieu Courcelles, Qingchuan Zhao, Anca Apavaloaei, Jean-David Larouche, Marie-Pierre Hardy, Krystel Vincent, Patrick Gendron, Leslie Hesnard, Catherine Thériault, Maria Virginia Ruiz Cuevas, Grégory Ehx, Pierre Thibault, Claude Perreault


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