High throughput profiling of undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcomas identifies two main subgroups with distinct immune profile, clinical outcome and sensitivity to targeted therapies

EBioMedicine, décembre 2020

Maud Toulmonde, Carlo Lucchesi, Stéphanie Verbeke, Amandine Crombe, Julien Adam, Damien Geneste, Vanessa Chaire, Audrey Laroche-Clary, Raul Perret, François Bertucci, Frederic Bertolo, Laurence Bianchini, Bérengère Dadone-Montaudie, Todd Hembrough, Steve Sweet, Yeoun Jin Kim, Fabiola Cecchi, François Le Loare, Antoine Italiano

DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2020.103131



Background: Undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS) is the most frequent, aggressive and less-characterized sarcoma subtype. This study aims to assess UPS molecular characteristics and identify specific therapeutic targets.

Methods: High-throughput technologies encompassing immunohistochemistry, RNA-sequencing, whole exome-sequencing, mass spectrometry, as well as radiomics were used to characterize three independent cohorts of 110, 25 and 41 UPS selected after histological review performed by an expert pathologist. Correlations were made with clinical outcome. Cell lines and xenografts were derived from human samples for functional experiments.

Findings: CD8 positive cell density was independently associated with metastatic behavior and prognosis. RNA-sequencing identified two main groups: the group A, enriched in genes involved in development and stemness, including FGFR2, and the group B, strongly enriched in genes involved in immunity. Immune infiltrate patterns on tumor samples were highly predictive of gene expression classification, leading to call the group B ‘immune-high’ and the group A ‘immune-low’. This molecular classification and its prognostic impact were confirmed on an independent cohort of UPS from TCGA. Copy numbers alterations were significantly more frequent in immune-low UPS. Proteomic analysis identified two main proteomic groups that highly correlated with the two main transcriptomic groups. A set of nine radiomic features from conventional MRI sequences provided the basis for a radiomics signature that could select immune-high UPS on their pre-therapeutic imaging. Finally, in vitro and in vivo anti-tumor activity of FGFR inhibitor JNJ-42756493 was selectively shown in cell lines and patient-derived xenograft models derived from immune-low UPS.

Interpretation: Two main disease entities of UPS, with distinct immune phenotypes, prognosis, molecular features and MRI textures, as well as differential sensitivity to specific anticancer agents were identified. Immune-high UPS may be the best candidates for immune checkpoint inhibitors, whereas this study provides rational for assessing FGFR inhibition in immune-low UPS.

Funding: This work was partly founded by a grant from La Ligue.

Keywords: Genomics; Immunology; Preclinical; Proteomics; Sarcomas; Therapeutic targets.