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Single-cell RNA sequencing reveals a dynamic stromal niche within the evolving tumour microenvironment

By Sarah Davidson, Mirjana Efremova, Angela Riedel, Bidesh Mahata, Jhuma Pramanik, Jani Huuhtanen, Gozde Kar, Roser Vento-Tormo, Tzachi Hagai, Xi Chen, Muzlifah A. Haniffa, Jacqueline D. Shields, Sarah A Teichmann

Posted 09 Nov 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/467225

Non-cancerous stromal cells represent a highly diverse compartment of the tumour, yet their role across tumour evolution remains unclear. We employed single-cell RNA sequencing to determine stromal adaptations in murine melanoma at different points of tumour development. Naive lymphocytes recruited from lymph nodes underwent activation and clonal expansion within the tumour, prior to PD1 and Lag3 expression, while tumour-associated myeloid cells promoted the formation of a suppressive niche through cytokine secretion and inhibitory T cell interactions. We identified three temporally distinct cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF) populations displaying unique signatures, and verified these in human datasets. In early tumours, immune CXCL12/CSF1 and complement-expressing CAFs supported recruitment of macrophages, whereas contractile CAFs became more prevalent in later tumours. This study highlights the complex interplay and increasing diversity among cells that co-evolve with the tumour, indicating that from early stages of development, stromal cells acquire the capacity to modulate the immune landscape towards suppression.

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