Very little is known about how the adaptive immune system responds to clonal evolution and tumor heterogeneity in non-small cell lung cancer. We profiled the T-cell receptor β complementarity determining region 3 in 20 patients with fully resected non-small cell lung cancer primary lesions and paired brain metastases. We characterized the richness, abundance and overlap of T cell clones between pairs, in addition to the tumor mutation burden and predicted neoantigens. We found a significant contraction in the number of unique T cell clones in brain metastases compared to paired primary cancers. The vast majority of T cell clones were specific to a single lesion, and there was minimal overlap in T cell clones between paired lesions. Despite the contraction in the number of T cell clones, brain metastases had higher non-synonymous mutation burdens than primary lesions. Our results suggest that there is greater richness of T cell clones in primary lung cancers than their paired metastases despite the higher mutation burden observed in metastatic lesions. These results may have implications for immunotherapy.
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