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Tumor-Infiltrating B Lymphocyte Profiling Identifies IgG-Biased, Clonally Expanded Prognostic Phenotypes In Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4290-4304
Number of pages15
JournalCancer Research
Issue number16
Accepted/In press7 Jun 2021
Published15 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors acknowledge support by Breast Cancer Now (147; KCL-BCN-Q3); the Cancer Research UK King’s Health Partners Center at King’s College London (C604/A25135); Cancer Research UK (C30122/A11527; C30122/A15774); the Medical Research Council (MR/L023091/1); CR UK//NIHR in England/DoH for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Experimental Cancer Medicine Center (C10355/A15587). The research was supported by the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Center based at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London (IS-BRC-1215-20006). The authors are solely responsible for study design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish, and preparation of the manuscript. The views expressed are those of Funding Information: D.K. Dunn-Walters reports grants from MRC during the conduct of the study. A.N.J. Tutt reports grants from Breast Cancer Now Charity and CRUK during the conduct of the study as well as reports personal fees from Inbiomo-tion, CRUK, MD Anderson, and reports other support from Tesaro/ GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, AstraZeneca, Merck KGAA, as well as personal fees from Pfizer, Vertex, Artios, Prime Oncology, and reports other support from Medivation, Myriad Genetics, and reports personal fees from Gilead, other support from AstraZeneca, and grants from AstraZeneca outside the submitted work; as well as a patent for AstraZeneca with royalties paid to the Institute of Cancer Research with royalties paid from AstraZeneca. S.N. Karagiannis reports grants from Breast Cancer Now, Cancer Research UK, Medical Research Council, and National Institute for Health Research during the conduct of the study as well as reports grants from Epsilogen Ltd. outside the submitted work; and patents on novel antibodies for cancer therapy. No disclosures were reported by the other authors. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors; Published by the American Association for Cancer Research Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


King's Authors


In breast cancer, humoral immune responses may contribute to clinical outcomes, especially in more immunogenic subtypes. Here we investigated B lymphocyte subsets, immunoglobulin expression, and clonal features in breast tumors, focusing on aggressive triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC). In samples from TNBC patients and healthy volunteers, circulating and tumor-infiltrating B lymphocyte (TIL-B) were evaluated. CD20+CD27+IgD- isotype-switched B lymphocytes were increased in tumors, compared with matched blood. TIL-B frequently formed stromal clusters with T lymphocytes and
engaged in bidirectional functional crosstalk, consistent with gene signatures associated with lymphoid assembly, co-stimulation, cytokine-cytokine receptor interactions, cytotoxic T cell activation, and T cell-dependent B cell activation. TIL-B upregulated B cell receptor (BCR) pathway molecules FOS and JUN, germinal center chemokine regulator RGS1, activation marker CD69, and TNFα signal transduction via NFκB, suggesting BCR-immune complex formation. Expression of genes associated with B lymphocyte recruitment and lymphoid assembly, including CXCL13, CXCR4, DC-LAMP, was elevated in TNBC compared with other subtypes and normal breast. TIL-B-rich tumors showed expansion of
IgG but not IgA isotypes, and IgG isotype-switching positively associated with survival outcomes in TNBC. Clonal expansion was biased towards IgG, showing expansive clonal families with specific variable region gene combinations and narrow repertoires. Stronger positive selection pressure was present in the complementary determining regions (CDRs) of IgG compared to their clonally related IgA in tumor samples. Overall, class-switched B lymphocyte lineage traits were conspicuous in TNBC, associated with improved clinical outcomes, and conferred IgG-biased, clonally expanded, and likely antigen-driven humoral

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