Comprehensive analysis of the PD-L1 and immune infiltrates of m6A RNA methylation regulators in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Lilan Yi, Guowu Wu, Longhua Guo, Xiaofang Zou, Ping Huang
2020 Molecular Therapy: Nucleic Acids  
Because most studies have focused on the intrinsic carcinogenic pathways of tumors, the underlying role of N6-methyladenosine (m6A) methylation in tumor immune microenvironment (TIME) remains elusive. Herein, we systematically explored the correlations of prominent m6A regulators with PD-L1 and immune infiltrates in 769 head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs; The Cancer Genome Atlas [TCGA] cohort, n = 499; GSE65858 cohort, n = 270). The PD-L1 expression evidently associated with m6A
more » ... lators. Two molecular subtypes (cluster1/2) were identified by consensus clustering for 15 m6A regulators. The cluster2 preferentially associated with favorable prognosis, upregulated PD-L1 expression, higher immunoscore, and distinct immune cell infiltration. The hallmarks of G2M checkpoint, mTORC1 signaling, and PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling were remarkably enriched in the cluster1. A prognostic risk score was constructed using seven m6A regulator-associated signatures that represented an independent prognosis factor for HNSCC. Patients with low-risk score exhibited higher immunoscore and upregulated PD-L1 expression than patients with high-risk score. Consistently, m6A regulators showed the same influence on immune modulation and survival in external GSE65858 cohort. Further analysis revealed that m6A regulator-based signatures were implicated in TIME and their copy-number alterations dynamically affected the abundance of tumor-infiltrating immune cells. Collectively, our study elucidated the important role of m6A methylation in TIME of HNSCC. The proposed m6A regulator-based signatures might serve as crucial mediators of TIME in HNSCC, representing promising therapeutic targets in improving immunotherapeutic efficacy.
doi:10.1016/j.omtn.2020.06.001 pmid:32622331 pmcid:PMC7332506 fatcat:u52vfinb4zeoje7g7lesmhsc54