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Single-cell Map of Diverse Immune Phenotypes Driven by the Tumor Microenvironment

By Elham Azizi, Ambrose J Carr, George Plitas, Andrew E. Cornish, Catherine Konopacki, Sandhya Prabhakaran, Juozas Nainys, Kenmin Wu, Vaidotas Kiseliovas, Manu Setty, Kristy Choi, Rachel M. Fromme, Phuong Dao, Peter T. McKenney, Ruby C. Wasti, Krishna Kadaveru, Linas Mazutis, Alexander Y. Rudensky, Dana Pe’er

Posted 25 Nov 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/221994 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.05.060)

Knowledge of immune cell phenotypes in the tumor microenvironment is essential for understanding mechanisms of cancer progression and immunotherapy response. We created an immune map of breast cancer using single-cell RNA-seq data from 45,000 immune cells from eight breast carcinomas, as well as matched normal breast tissue, blood, and lymph node. We developed a preprocessing pipeline, SEQC, and a Bayesian clustering and normalization method, Biscuit, to address computational challenges inherent to single-cell data. Despite significant similarity between normal and tumor tissue-resident immune cells, we observed continuous tumor-specific phenotypic expansions driven by environmental cues. Analysis of paired single-cell RNA and T cell receptor (TCR) sequencing data from 27,000 additional T cells revealed the combinatorial impact of TCR utilization on phenotypic diversity. Our results support a model of continuous activation in T cells and do not comport with the macrophage polarization model in cancer, with important implications for characterizing tumor-infiltrating immune cells.

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