APOBEC3B-mediated corruption of the tumor cell immunopeptidome induces heteroclitic neoepitopes for cancer immunotherapy

Christopher B. Driscoll, Matthew R. Schuelke, Timothy Kottke, Jill M. Thompson, Phonphimon Wongthida, Jason M. Tonne, Amanda L. Huff, Amber Miller, Kevin G. Shim, Amy Molan, Cynthia Wetmore, Peter Selby, Adel Samson, Kevin Harrington, Hardev Pandha, Alan Melcher, Jose S. Pulido, Reuben Harris, Laura Evgin, Richard G. Vile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


APOBEC3B, an anti-viral cytidine deaminase which induces DNA mutations, has been implicated as a mediator of cancer evolution and therapeutic resistance. Mutational plasticity also drives generation of neoepitopes, which prime anti-tumor T cells. Here, we show that overexpression of APOBEC3B in tumors increases resistance to chemotherapy, but simultaneously heightens sensitivity to immune checkpoint blockade in a murine model of melanoma. However, in the vaccine setting, APOBEC3B-mediated mutations reproducibly generate heteroclitic neoepitopes in vaccine cells which activate de novo T cell responses. These cross react against parental, unmodified tumors and lead to a high rate of cures in both subcutaneous and intra-cranial tumor models. Heteroclitic Epitope Activated Therapy (HEAT) dispenses with the need to identify patient specific neoepitopes and tumor reactive T cells ex vivo. Thus, actively driving a high mutational load in tumor cell vaccines increases their immunogenicity to drive anti-tumor therapy in combination with immune checkpoint blockade.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number790
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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