Single-Cell RNA-Sequencing Atlas Reveals the Tumor Microenvironment of Metastatic High-Grade Serous Ovarian Carcinoma

Front Immunol. 2022 Jul 22;13:923194. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.923194. eCollection 2022.


Ovarian cancer is the most common and lethal gynecological tumor in women worldwide. High-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSOC) is one of the histological subtypes of epithelial ovarian cancer, accounting for 70%. It often occurs at later stages associated with a more fatal prognosis than endometrioid carcinomas (EC), another subtype of epithelial ovarian cancer. However, the molecular mechanism and biology underlying the metastatic HGSOC (HG_M) immunophenotype remain poorly elusive. Here, we performed single-cell RNA sequencing analyses of primary HGSOC (HG_P) samples, metastatic HGSOC (HG_M) samples, and endometrioid carcinomas (EC) samples. We found that ERBB2 and HOXB-AS3 genes were more amplified in metastasis tumors than in primary tumors. Notably, high-grade serous ovarian cancer metastases are accompanied by dysregulation of multiple pathways. Malignant cells with features of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) affiliated with poor overall survival were identified. In addition, cancer-associated fibroblasts with EMT-program were enriched in HG_M, participating in angiogenesis and immune regulation, such as IL6/STAT3 pathway activity. Compared with ECs, HGSOCs exhibited higher T cell infiltration. PRDM1 regulators may be involved in T cell exhaustion in ovarian cancer. The CX3CR1_macro subpopulation may play a role in promoting tumor progression in ovarian cancer with high expression of BAG3, IL1B, and VEGFA. The new targets we discovered in this study will be useful in the future, providing guidance on the treatment of ovarian cancer.

Keywords: T cells; high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma; myeloid cells; scRNA-seq; tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Endometrioid* / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous* / genetics
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous* / metabolism
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • RNA
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • BAG3 protein, human
  • RNA