Single-cell spatial multiomics reveals tumor microenvironment vulnerabilities in cancer resistance to immunotherapy

Cell Rep. 2024 Jun 28;43(7):114392. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2024.114392. Online ahead of print.


Heterogeneous resistance to immunotherapy remains a major challenge in cancer treatment, often leading to disease progression and death. Using CITE-seq and matched 40-plex PhenoCycler tissue imaging, we performed longitudinal multimodal single-cell analysis of tumors from metastatic melanoma patients with innate resistance, acquired resistance, or response to immunotherapy. We established the multimodal integration toolkit to align transcriptomic features, cellular epitopes, and spatial information to provide deeper insights into the tumors. With longitudinal analysis, we identified an "immune-striving" tumor microenvironment marked by peri-tumor lymphoid aggregates and low infiltration of T cells in the tumor and the emergence of MITF+SPARCL1+ and CENPF+ melanoma subclones after therapy. The enrichment of B cell-associated signatures in the molecular composition of lymphoid aggregates was associated with better survival. These findings provide further insights into the establishment of microenvironmental cell interactions and molecular composition of spatial structures that could inform therapeutic intervention.

Keywords: CP: Cancer; CP: Immunology; cancer heterogeneity; checkpoint inhibitor; immune evasion; immunotherapy; lymphoid aggregates; melanoma; single cell sequencing; spatial mapping; therapy resistance; tumor microenvironment.