Activation of STING-Dependent Innate Immune Signaling By S-Phase-Specific DNA Damage in Breast Cancer

Background: Previously we identified a DNA damage response deficient (DDRD) molecular subtype within breast cancer. A 44-gene assay identifying this subtype was validated as predicting benefit from DNA-damaging chemotherapy. This subtype was defined by interferon signaling. In this study, we address the mechanism of this immune response and its possible clinical significance.

Conclusions: We propose a novel mechanism of immune infiltration in DDRD tumors, independent of neoantigen production. Activation of this pathway and associated PD-L1 expression may explain the paradoxical lack of T-cell-mediated cytotoxicity observed in DDRD tumors. We provide a rationale for exploration of DDRD in the stratification of patients for immune checkpoint–based therapies.

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