TSPAN8+ myofibroblastic cancer-associated fibroblasts promote chemoresistance in patients with breast cancer

Sci Transl Med. 2024 Apr 3;16(741):eadj5705. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.adj5705. Epub 2024 Apr 3.


Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are abundant stromal cells in the tumor microenvironment that promote cancer progression and relapse. However, the heterogeneity and regulatory roles of CAFs underlying chemoresistance remain largely unclear. Here, we performed a single-cell analysis using high-dimensional flow cytometry analysis and identified a distinct senescence-like tetraspanin-8 (TSPAN8)+ myofibroblastic CAF (myCAF) subset, which is correlated with therapeutic resistance and poor survival in multiple cohorts of patients with breast cancer (BC). TSPAN8+ myCAFs potentiate the stemness of the surrounding BC cells through secretion of senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP)-related factors IL-6 and IL-8 to counteract chemotherapy. NAD-dependent protein deacetylase sirtuin 6 (SIRT6) reduction was responsible for the senescence-like phenotype and tumor-promoting role of TSPAN8+ myCAFs. Mechanistically, TSPAN8 promoted the phosphorylation of ubiquitin E3 ligase retinoblastoma binding protein 6 (RBBP6) at Ser772 by recruiting MAPK11, thereby inducing SIRT6 protein destruction. In turn, SIRT6 down-regulation up-regulated GLS1 and PYCR1, which caused TSPAN8+ myCAFs to secrete aspartate and proline, and therefore proved a nutritional niche to support BC outgrowth. By demonstrating that TSPAN8+SIRT6low myCAFs were tightly associated with unfavorable disease outcomes, we proposed that the combined regimen of anti-TSPAN8 antibody and SIRT6 activator MDL-800 is a promising approach to overcome chemoresistance. These findings highlight that senescence contributes to CAF heterogeneity and chemoresistance and suggest that targeting TSPAN8+ myCAFs is a promising approach to circumvent chemoresistance.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts* / metabolism
  • Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts* / pathology
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Sirtuins*
  • Tetraspanins / genetics
  • Tetraspanins / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases


  • Sirtuins
  • RBBP6 protein, human
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • TSPAN8 protein, human
  • Tetraspanins
  • SIRT6 protein, human