Spatially and functionally distinct subclasses of breast cancer-associated fibroblasts revealed by single cell RNA sequencing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are a major constituent of the tumor microenvironment, although their origin and roles in shaping disease initiation, progression and treatment response remain unclear due to significant heterogeneity. Here, following a negative selection strategy combined with single-cell RNA sequencing of 768 transcriptomes of mesenchymal cells from a genetically engineered mouse model of breast cancer, we define three distinct subpopulations of CAFs. Validation at the transcriptional and protein level in several experimental models of cancer and human tumors reveal spatial separation of the CAF subclasses attributable to different origins, including the peri-vascular niche, the mammary fat pad and the transformed epithelium. Gene profiles for each CAF subtype correlate to distinctive functional programs and hold independent prognostic capability in clinical cohorts by association to metastatic disease. In conclusion, the improved resolution of the widely defined CAF population opens the possibility for biomarker-driven development of drugs for precision targeting of CAFs.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Lund University
  • Karolinska University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Cancer and Oncology
Original languageEnglish
Article number5150
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 4
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes