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Although cancer immunotherapy with PD-(L)1 blockade is now routine treatment for patients with lung cancer, remarkably little is known about acquired resistance. We examined 1,201 patients with NSCLC treated with PD-(L)1 blockade to clinically characterize acquired resistance, finding it to be common (occurring in more than 60% of initial responders), with persistent but diminishing risk over time, and with distinct metastatic and survival patterns compared to primary resistance. To examine the molecular phenotype and potential mechanisms of acquired resistance, we performed whole transcriptome and exome tumor profiling in a subset of NSCLC patients (n=29) with acquired resistance. Systematic immunogenomic analysis revealed that tumors with acquired resistance generally had enriched signals of inflammation (including IFN{gamma} signaling and inferred CD8+ T cells) and could be separated into IFN{gamma} upregulated and stable subsets. IFN{gamma} upregulated tumors had putative routes of resistance with signatures of dysfunctional interferon signaling and mutations in antigen presentation genes. Transcriptomic profiling of cancer cells from a murine model of acquired resistance to PD-(L)1 blockade also showed evidence of dysfunctional interferon signaling and acquired insensitivity to in vitro interferon gamma treatment. In summary, we characterized clinical and molecular features of acquired resistance to PD-(L)1 blockade in NSCLC and found evidence of ongoing but dysfunctional IFN response. The persistently inflamed, rather than excluded or deserted, tumor microenvironment of acquired resistance informs therapeutic strategies to effectively reprogram and reverse acquired resistance.

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