Integrated multi-omics profiling to dissect the spatiotemporal evolution of metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma

Cancer Cell. 2024 Jan 8;42(1):135-156.e17. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2023.11.010. Epub 2023 Dec 14.


Comprehensive molecular analyses of metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are lacking. Here, we generate multi-omic profiling of 257 primary and 176 metastatic regions from 182 HCC patients. Primary tumors rich in hypoxia signatures facilitated polyclonal dissemination. Genomic divergence between primary and metastatic HCC is high, and early dissemination is prevalent. The remarkable neoantigen intratumor heterogeneity observed in metastases is associated with decreased T cell reactivity, resulting from disruptions to neoantigen presentation. We identify somatic copy number alterations as highly selected events driving metastasis. Subclones without Wnt mutations show a stronger selective advantage for metastasis than those with Wnt mutations and are characterized by a microenvironment rich in activated fibroblasts favoring a pro-metastatic phenotype. Finally, metastases without Wnt mutations exhibit higher enrichment of immunosuppressive B cells that mediate terminal exhaustion of CD8+ T cells via HLA-E:CD94-NKG2A checkpoint axis. Collectively, our results provide a multi-dimensional dissection of the complex evolutionary process of metastasis.

Keywords: NKG2A checkpoint; Wnt; cancer evolution; chromosome instability; hepatocellular carcinoma; intratumor heterogeneity; metastasis; negative selection; polyclonal metastasis; tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Multiomics
  • Mutation
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics