Rxivist logo

Cell non-autonomous interactions during non-immune stromal progression in the breast tumor microenvironment

By Raditya Utama, Anja Bastian, Narayanan Sadagopan, Ying Jin, Eric Antoniou, Qing Gao, Yinghui J Huang, Sailesh Gopalakrishna-Pillai, Peter P. Lee, Gurinder S. Atwal

Posted 04 Feb 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/540112

The breast tumor microenvironment of primary and metastatic sites is a complex milieu of differing cell populations, consisting of tumor cells and the surrounding stroma. Despite recent progress in delineating the immune component of the stroma, the genomic expression landscape of the non-immune stroma (NIS) population and their role in mediating cancer progression and informing effective therapies are not well understood. Here we obtained 52 cell-sorted NIS and epithelial tissue samples across 37 patients from i) normal breast, ii) normal breast adjacent to primary tumor, iii) primary tumor, and iv) metastatic tumor sites. Deep RNA-seq revealed diverging gene expression profiles as the NIS evolves from normal to metastatic tumor tissue, with intra-patient normal-primary variation comparable to inter-patient variation. Significant expression changes between normal and adjacent normal tissue support the notion of a cancer field effect, but extended out to the NIS. Most differentially expressed protein-coding genes and lncRNAs were found to be associated with pattern formation, embryogenesis, and the epithelial-mesenchymal transition. We validated the protein expression changes of a novel candidate gene, C2orf88, by immunohistochemistry staining of representative tissues. Significant mutual information between epithelial ligand and NIS receptor gene expression, across primary and metastatic tissue, suggests a unidirectional model of molecular signaling between the two tissues. Furthermore, survival analyses of 827 luminal breast tumor samples demonstrated the predictive power of the NIS gene expression to inform clinical outcomes. Together, these results highlight the evolution of NIS gene expression in breast tumors and suggest novel therapeutic strategies targeting the microenvironment.

Download data

  • Downloaded 324 times
  • Download rankings, all-time:
    • Site-wide: 56,917 out of 100,819
    • In cancer biology: 1,848 out of 3,611
  • Year to date:
    • Site-wide: 82,746 out of 100,819
  • Since beginning of last month:
    • Site-wide: 70,439 out of 100,819

Altmetric data

Downloads over time

Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide


Sign up for the Rxivist weekly newsletter! (Click here for more details.)


  • 20 Oct 2020: Support for sorting preprints using Twitter activity has been removed, at least temporarily, until a new source of social media activity data becomes available.
  • 18 Dec 2019: We're pleased to announce PanLingua, a new tool that enables you to search for machine-translated bioRxiv preprints using more than 100 different languages.
  • 21 May 2019: PLOS Biology has published a community page about Rxivist.org and its design.
  • 10 May 2019: The paper analyzing the Rxivist dataset has been published at eLife.
  • 1 Mar 2019: We now have summary statistics about bioRxiv downloads and submissions.
  • 8 Feb 2019: Data from Altmetric is now available on the Rxivist details page for every preprint. Look for the "donut" under the download metrics.
  • 30 Jan 2019: preLights has featured the Rxivist preprint and written about our findings.
  • 22 Jan 2019: Nature just published an article about Rxivist and our data.
  • 13 Jan 2019: The Rxivist preprint is live!