Genomic and Single-Cell Landscape Reveals Novel Drivers and Therapeutic Vulnerabilities of Transformed Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

Cancer Discov. 2022 May 2;12(5):1294-1313. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-21-1207.


Abstract: Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) is a rare cancer of skin-homing T cells. A subgroup of patients develops large cell transformation with rapid progression to an aggressive lymphoma. Here, we investigated the transformed CTCL (tCTCL) tumor ecosystem using integrative multiomics spanning whole-exome sequencing (WES), single-cell RNA sequencing, and immune profiling in a unique cohort of 56 patients. WES of 70 skin biopsies showed high tumor mutation burden, UV signatures that are prognostic for survival, exome-based driver events, and most recurrently mutated pathways in tCTCL. Single-cell profiling of 16 tCTCL skin biopsies identified a core oncogenic program with metabolic reprogramming toward oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), cellular plasticity, upregulation of MYC and E2F activities, and downregulation of MHC I suggestive of immune escape. Pharmacologic perturbation using OXPHOS and MYC inhibitors demonstrated potent antitumor activities, whereas immune profiling provided in situ evidence of intercellular communications between malignant T cells expressing macrophage migration inhibitory factor and macrophages and B cells expressing CD74.

Significance: Our study contributes a key resource to the community with the largest collection of tCTCL biopsies that are difficult to obtain. The multiomics data herein provide the first comprehensive compendium of genomic alterations in tCTCL and identify potential prognostic signatures and novel therapeutic targets for an incurable T-cell lymphoma. This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 1171.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Ecosystem
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous* / drug therapy
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous* / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Skin Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms* / metabolism