Immune checkpoint blockade therapy (ICBT) can unleash T-cell responses against cancer. However, only a small fraction of patients exhibited responses to ICBT. The role of immune checkpoints in cancer cells is not well understood. In this study, we analyzed T-cell coinhibitory/costimulatory genes across more than 1100 samples of the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia (CCLE). Nearly 90% of such genes were not expressed or had low expression across the CCLE cancer cell lines. Cell line screening showed the enrichment of cancer cells deprived of the expression of CD27, CEACAM1, CTLA4, LRIG1, PDCD1LG2, or TNFRSF18, suggesting their role as tumor suppressor. The metagene expression signature derived from these six genes - Immu6Metagene was associated with prolonged survival phenotypes. A common set of five oncogenic pathways were significantly inhibited in different types of tumors of the cancer patients with good survival outcome and high Immu6Metagene signature expression. These pathways were TGF-β signaling, angiogenesis, EMT, hypoxia and mitotic process. Our study showed that oncoimmunology related molecules especially the six genes of the Immu6Metagene signature may play the tumor suppressor role in certain cancers. Therefore, the ICBT targeting them should be considered in such context to improve the efficacy.
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