A gene signature linked to fibroblast differentiation for prognostic prediction of mesothelioma

Cell Biosci. 2024 Mar 10;14(1):33. doi: 10.1186/s13578-023-01180-7.


Background: Malignant mesothelioma is a type of infrequent tumor that is substantially related to asbestos exposure and has a terrible prognosis. We tried to produce a fibroblast differentiation-related gene set for creating a novel classification and prognostic prediction model of MESO.

Method: Three databases, including NCBI-GEO, TCGA, and MET-500, separately provide single-cell RNA sequencing data, bulk RNA sequencing profiles of MESO, and RNA sequencing information on bone metastatic tumors. Dimensionality reduction and clustering analysis were leveraged to acquire fibroblast subtypes in the MESO microenvironment. The fibroblast differentiation-related genes (FDGs), which were associated with survival and subsequently utilized to generate the MESO categorization and prognostic prediction model, were selected in combination with pseudotime analysis and survival information from the TCGA database. Then, regulatory network was constructed for each MESO subtype, and candidate inhibitors were predicted. Clinical specimens were collected for further validation.

Result: A total of six fibroblast subtypes, three differentiation states, and 39 FDGs were identified. Based on the expression level of FDGs, three MESO subtypes were distinguished in the fibroblast differentiation-based classification (FDBC). In the multivariate prognostic prediction model, the risk score that was dependent on the expression level of several important FDGs, was verified to be an independently effective prognostic factor and worked well in internal cohorts. Finally, we predicted 24 potential drugs for the treatment of MESO. Moreover, immunohistochemical staining and statistical analysis provided further validation.

Conclusion: Fibroblast differentiation-related genes (FDGs), especially those in low-differentiation states, might participate in the proliferation and invasion of MESO. Hopefully, the raised clinical subtyping of MESO would provide references for clinical practitioners.

Keywords: Differentiation; Fibroblast; MESO; Mesothelioma; Single-cell RNA sequencing.