Single-nucleus and spatial transcriptome profiling of pancreatic cancer identifies multicellular dynamics associated with neoadjuvant treatment

Nat Genet. 2022 Aug;54(8):1178-1191. doi: 10.1038/s41588-022-01134-8. Epub 2022 Jul 28.

Abstract

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly lethal and treatment-refractory cancer. Molecular stratification in pancreatic cancer remains rudimentary and does not yet inform clinical management or therapeutic development. Here, we construct a high-resolution molecular landscape of the cellular subtypes and spatial communities that compose PDAC using single-nucleus RNA sequencing and whole-transcriptome digital spatial profiling (DSP) of 43 primary PDAC tumor specimens that either received neoadjuvant therapy or were treatment naive. We uncovered recurrent expression programs across malignant cells and fibroblasts, including a newly identified neural-like progenitor malignant cell program that was enriched after chemotherapy and radiotherapy and associated with poor prognosis in independent cohorts. Integrating spatial and cellular profiles revealed three multicellular communities with distinct contributions from malignant, fibroblast and immune subtypes: classical, squamoid-basaloid and treatment enriched. Our refined molecular and cellular taxonomy can provide a framework for stratification in clinical trials and serve as a roadmap for therapeutic targeting of specific cellular phenotypes and multicellular interactions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal* / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal* / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal* / therapy
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Prognosis
  • Transcriptome / genetics

Substances

  • Biomarkers, Tumor

Supplementary concepts

  • Pancreatic Carcinoma