Spatial and single-cell transcriptomics decipher the cellular environment containing HLA-G+ cancer cells and SPP1+ macrophages in colorectal cancer

Cell Rep. 2023 Jan 31;42(1):111929. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.111929. Epub 2023 Jan 18.


The cellular interactions in the tumor microenvironment of colorectal cancer (CRC) are poorly understood, hindering patient treatment. In the current study, we investigate whether events occurring at the invasion front are of particular importance for CRC treatment strategies. To this end, we analyze CRC tissues by combining spatial transcriptomics from patients with a public single-cell transcriptomic atlas to determine cell-cell interactions at the invasion front. We show that CRC cells are localized specifically at the invasion front. These cells induce human leukocyte antigen G (HLA-G) to produce secreted phosphoprotein 1 (SPP1)+ macrophages while conferring CRC cells with anti-tumor immunity, as well as proliferative and invasive properties. Taken together, these findings highlight the signaling between CRC cell populations and stromal cell populations at the cellular level.

Keywords: CP: Cancer; budding; cell invasion; cell proliferation; colorectal cancer; immune tolerance; single-cell transcriptome; spatial transcriptomics; tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • HLA-G Antigens* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Macrophages
  • Osteopontin
  • Transcriptome / genetics
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • HLA-G Antigens
  • Osteopontin
  • SPP1 protein, human