Microsatellite instability (MSI) is an important biomarker for predicting response to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy, as emphasized by the recent checkpoint inhibitor approval for MSI-high (MSI-H) solid tumors. Herein, we describe and validate a novel method for determining MSI status from a next-generation sequencing comprehensive genomic profiling assay using formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples. This method is 97% (65/67) concordant with current standards, PCR and immunohistochemistry. We further apply this method to >67,000 patient tumor samples to identify genes and pathways that are enriched in MSI-stable or MSI-H tumor groups. Data show that although rare in tumors other than colorectal and endometrial carcinomas, MSI-H samples are present in many tumor types. Furthermore, the large sample set revealed that MSI-H tumors selectively share alterations in genes across multiple common pathways, including WNT, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, and NOTCH. Last, MSI is sufficient, but not necessary, for a tumor to have elevated tumor mutation burden. Therefore, MSI can be determined from comprehensive genomic profiling with high accuracy, allowing for efficient MSI-H detection across all tumor types, especially those in which routine use of immunohistochemistry or PCR-based assays would be impractical because of a rare incidence of MSI. MSI-H tumors are enriched in alterations in specific signaling pathways, providing a rationale for investigating directed immune checkpoint inhibitor therapies in combination with pathway-targeted therapies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Molecular Medicine