Significance of Tumor Mutation Burden in Immune Infiltration and Prognosis in Cutaneous Melanoma

Kai Kang, Fucun Xie, Jinzhu Mao, Yi Bai, Xiang Wang
Frontiers in Oncology 2020, 10: 573141
Background: Melanoma is highly immunogenic and therefore suitable for immunotherapy, but the efficacy is limited by response rate. In several types of tumor, tumor mutation burden (TMB) and immune infiltration have been reported to predict the response to immunotherapy, although each has its limitations. In the current study, we aimed to explore the association of TMB with immune infiltration and prognosis in cutaneous melanoma. Methods: The data of cutaneous melanoma used for analyses was downloaded from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database. The mutation data was sorted using "maftools" R package. TMB was estimated and then patients were divided into two groups based on TMB. The association of TMB with prognosis and clinical characteristics was explored. Differential analysis between two TMB groups was performed using "DESeq2" R package to identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs). The function enrichment analyses of DEGs were conducted to screen critical pathways. Besides, DEGs were further filtered to identify two hub genes, based on which a risk score model and nomogram for predicting prognosis were conducted, and the validation was performed using three datasets from Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database. Finally, CIBERSORT algorithm and TIMER database were used to assess the effect of TMB and hub genes on immune infiltration. Results: The most common mutation was C > T, and the top three frequently mutated genes were TTN, MUC16 , and BRAF . Higher TMB indicated better survival outcomes and lower pathological stages. 735 DEGs were identified and mainly involved in immune-related and adhesion-related pathways. The risk score model and nomogram were validated using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves and calibration curves, and exhibited relatively high predictive capability. Decision curve analysis (DCA) was used to assess clinical benefit. As for immune infiltration, the proportion was higher for macrophages M1 and M2 in the high-TMB group, while lower for memory B cells and regulatory T cells. Conclusions: In cutaneous melanoma, TMB was positively correlated with prognosis. The risk score model and nomogram can be conveniently used to predict prognosis. The association of TMB with immune infiltration can help improve the predicting methods for the response to immunotherapy.

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