Activating missense mutations within RAS oncogenes are among the most prevalent genomic alterations observed in human cancers and drive oncogenesis in the three most lethal tumor types. Emerging evidence suggests mutant KRAS (mKRAS) may be targeted immunologically, but mKRAS epitopes remain poorly defined. Here, we employ multi-omic approaches to characterize optimal HLA class I-restricted mKRAS epitopes. Using in silico epitope prediction, we identify candidate mKRAS G12 epitopes with high predicted binding affinity to prevalent HLA class I alleles. We utilize biochemical approaches to identify mKRAS epitopes with high measured binding affinity and stability to HLA-A*03:01, -A*11:01 and -B*07:02. Furthermore, we provide proteomic validation of epitope processing and presentation by these alleles. We report mKRAS G12V and G12R epitopes are immunogenic as evidenced by the isolation of mKRAS G12V- and G12R-specific TCRαβ from healthy donors. The transfer of mKRAS-TCRs to primary CD8+ T cells serves as sensitive probes to validate mKRAS epitope processing and presentation by tumor cells and confers cytotoxicity against mKRAS human tumor cell lines of various histologies. The kinetics of lytic activity correlate with measured TCR avidity and mKRAS/HLA class I complex abundance expressed on the tumor cell surface. Finally, the adoptive transfer of mKRAS-TCR engineered primary CD8+ T cells to NOD scid gamma mice leads to tumor eradication in an orthotopic mKRAS lung cancer model. This study validates mKRAS as a bona fide tumor neoantigen and supports strategies to identify recurrent driver alterations for immunological targeting. Based on this work, clinical studies targeting mKRAS in cancer patients using vaccines and adoptive T cell therapy are under active investigation.

Citation Format: Adham S. Bear, Tatiana Blanchard, Mark H. O'Hara, John Scholler, Robert H. Vonderheide, Gerald P. Linette, Beatriz M. Carreno. Biochemical and functional characterization of mutant KRAS epitopes validates this oncoprotein for immunological targeting [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2021; 2021 Apr 10-15 and May 17-21. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2021;81(13_Suppl):Abstract nr 1899.