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Single-cell RNA-sequencing reveals profibrotic roles of distinct epithelial and mesenchymal lineages in pulmonary fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is a form of chronic lung disease characterized by pathologic epithelial remodeling and accumulation of extracellular matrix. In order to comprehensively define the cell types, mechanisms and mediators driving fibrotic remodeling in lungs with pulmonary fibrosis, we performed single-cell RNA-sequencing of single-cell suspensions from 10 non-fibrotic control and 20 PF lungs. Analysis of 114,396 cells identified 31 distinct cell types. We report a remarkable shift in epithelial cell phenotypes occurs in the peripheral lung in PF, and identify several previously unrecognized epithelial cell phenotypes including a KRT5−/KRT17+, pathologic ECM-producing epithelial cell population that was highly enriched in PF lungs. Multiple fibroblast subtypes were observed to contribute to ECM expansion in a spatially-discrete manner. Together these data provide high-resolution insights into the complexity and plasticity of the distal lung epithelium in human disease, and indicate a diversity of epithelial and mesenchymal cells contribute to pathologic lung fibrosis.

Single-cell RNA sequencing reveals compromised immune microenvironment in precursor stages of multiple myeloma

Precursor states of multiple myeloma (MM) and its native tumor microenvironment need in-depth molecular characterization to better stratify and treat patients at risk. Using single-cell RNA sequencing of bone marrow cells from precursor stages, monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance and smoldering MM, to full-blown MM alongside healthy donors, we demonstrate early immune changes during patient progression. We find that natural killer cell abundance is frequently increased in the early stages and associated with altered chemokine receptor expression. As early as smoldering MM, we show loss of granzyme K+ memory cytotoxic T cells and show their critical role in MM immunosurveillance in mouse models. Finally, we report major histocompatibility complex class II dysregulation in CD14+ monocytes, which results in T-cell suppression in vitro. These results provide a comprehensive map of immune changes at play over the evolution of premalignant MM, which will help develop strategies for immune-based patient stratification.

Lineage-dependent gene expression programs influence the immune landscape of colorectal cancer (KUL)

Immunotherapy for metastatic colorectal cancer is effective only for mismatch repair-deficient tumors with high microsatellite instability that demonstrate immune infiltration, suggesting that tumor cells can determine their immune microenvironment. To understand this cross-talk, we analyzed the transcriptome of 91,103 unsorted single cells from 23 Korean and 6 Belgian patients. Cancer cells displayed transcriptional features reminiscent of normal differentiation programs, and genetic alterations that apparently fostered immunosuppressive microenvironments directed by regulatory T cells, myofibroblasts and myeloid cells. Intercellular network reconstruction supported the association between cancer cell signatures and specific stromal or immune cell populations. Our collective view of the cellular landscape and intercellular interactions in colorectal cancer provide mechanistic information for the design of efficient immuno-oncology treatment strategies.

Lineage-dependent gene expression programs influence the immune landscape of colorectal cancer (SMC)

Immunotherapy for metastatic colorectal cancer is effective only for mismatch repair-deficient tumors with high microsatellite instability that demonstrate immune infiltration, suggesting that tumor cells can determine their immune microenvironment. To understand this cross-talk, we analyzed the transcriptome of 91,103 unsorted single cells from 23 Korean and 6 Belgian patients. Cancer cells displayed transcriptional features reminiscent of normal differentiation programs, and genetic alterations that apparently fostered immunosuppressive microenvironments directed by regulatory T cells, myofibroblasts and myeloid cells. Intercellular network reconstruction supported the association between cancer cell signatures and specific stromal or immune cell populations. Our collective view of the cellular landscape and intercellular interactions in colorectal cancer provide mechanistic information for the design of efficient immuno-oncology treatment strategies.

Unravelling subclonal heterogeneity and aggressive disease states in TNBC through single-cell RNA-seq

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive subtype characterized by extensive intratumoral heterogeneity. To investigate the underlying biology, we conducted single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) of >1500 cells from six primary TNBC. Here, we show that intercellular heterogeneity of gene expression programs within each tumor is variable and largely correlates with clonality of inferred genomic copy number changes, suggesting that genotype drives the gene expression phenotype of individual subpopulations. Clustering of gene expression profiles identified distinct subgroups of malignant cells shared by multiple tumors, including a single subpopulation associated with multiple signatures of treatment resistance and metastasis, and characterized functionally by activation of glycosphingolipid metabolism and associated innate immunity pathways. A novel signature defining this subpopulation predicts long-term outcomes for TNBC patients in a large cohort. Collectively, this analysis reveals the functional heterogeneity and its association with genomic evolution in TNBC, and uncovers unanticipated biological principles dictating poor outcomes in this disease.

Single-cell RNA-seq highlights intra-tumoral heterogeneity and malignant progression in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most common type of pancreatic cancer featured with high intra-tumoral heterogeneity and poor prognosis. To comprehensively delineate the PDAC intra-tumoral heterogeneity and the underlying mechanism for PDAC progression, we employed single-cell RNA-seq (scRNA-seq) to acquire the transcriptomic atlas of 57,530 individual pancreatic cells from primary PDAC tumors and control pancreases, and identified diverse malignant and stromal cell types, including two ductal subtypes with abnormal and malignant gene expression profiles respectively, in PDAC. We found that the heterogenous malignant subtype was composed of several subpopulations with differential proliferative and migratory potentials. Cell trajectory analysis revealed that components of multiple tumor-related pathways and transcription factors (TFs) were differentially expressed along PDAC progression. Furthermore, we found a subset of ductal cells with unique proliferative features were associated with an inactivation state in tumor-infiltrating T cells, providing novel markers for the prediction of antitumor immune response. Together, our findings provide a valuable resource for deciphering the intra-tumoral heterogeneity in PDAC and uncover a connection between tumor intrinsic transcriptional state and T cell activation, suggesting potential biomarkers for anticancer treatment such as targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

Bulk and single-cell gene expression profiling of SARS-CoV-2 infected human cell lines identifies molecular targets for therapeutic intervention (H1299)

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is an ongoing global health threat with more than two million infected people since its emergence in late 2019. Detailed knowledge of the molecular biology of the infection is indispensable for understanding of the viral replication, host responses, and disease progression. We provide gene expression profiles of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 infections in three human cell lines (H1299, Caco-2 and Calu-3 cells), using bulk and single-cell transcriptomics. Small RNA profiling showed strong expression of the immunity and inflammation-associated microRNA miRNA-155 upon infection with both viruses. SARS-CoV-2 elicited approximately two-fold higher stimulation of the interferon response compared to SARS-CoV in the permissive human epithelial cell line Calu-3, and induction of cytokines such as CXCL10 or IL6. Single cell RNA sequencing data showed that canonical interferon stimulated genes such as IFIT2 or OAS2 were broadly induced, whereas interferon beta (IFNB1) and lambda (IFNL1-4) were expressed only in a subset of infected cells. In addition, temporal resolution of transcriptional responses suggested interferon regulatory factors (IRFs) activities precede that of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB). Lastly, we identified heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) as a protein relevant for the infection. Inhibition of the HSP90 charperone activity by Tanespimycin/17-N-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG) resulted in a reduction of viral replication, and of TNF and IL1B mRNA levels. In summary, our study established in vitro cell culture models to study SARS-CoV-2 infection and identified HSP90 protein as potential drug target for therapeutic intervention of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Bulk and single-cell gene expression profiling of SARS-CoV-2 infected human cell lines identifies molecular targets for therapeutic intervention (Calu-3)

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is an ongoing global health threat with more than two million infected people since its emergence in late 2019. Detailed knowledge of the molecular biology of the infection is indispensable for understanding of the viral replication, host responses, and disease progression. We provide gene expression profiles of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 infections in three human cell lines (H1299, Caco-2 and Calu-3 cells), using bulk and single-cell transcriptomics. Small RNA profiling showed strong expression of the immunity and inflammation-associated microRNA miRNA-155 upon infection with both viruses. SARS-CoV-2 elicited approximately two-fold higher stimulation of the interferon response compared to SARS-CoV in the permissive human epithelial cell line Calu-3, and induction of cytokines such as CXCL10 or IL6. Single cell RNA sequencing data showed that canonical interferon stimulated genes such as IFIT2 or OAS2 were broadly induced, whereas interferon beta (IFNB1) and lambda (IFNL1-4) were expressed only in a subset of infected cells. In addition, temporal resolution of transcriptional responses suggested interferon regulatory factors (IRFs) activities precede that of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB). Lastly, we identified heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) as a protein relevant for the infection. Inhibition of the HSP90 charperone activity by Tanespimycin/17-N-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG) resulted in a reduction of viral replication, and of TNF and IL1B mRNA levels. In summary, our study established in vitro cell culture models to study SARS-CoV-2 infection and identified HSP90 protein as potential drug target for therapeutic intervention of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Single-cell landscape of bronchoalveolar immune cells in patients with COVID-19

Respiratory immune characteristics associated with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) severity are currently unclear. We characterized bronchoalveolar lavage fluid immune cells from patients with varying severity of COVID-19 and from healthy people by using single-cell RNA sequencing. Proinflammatory monocyte-derived macrophages were abundant in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from patients with severe COVID-9. Moderate cases were characterized by the presence of highly clonally expanded CD8+ T cells. This atlas of the bronchoalveolar immune microenvironment suggests potential mechanisms underlying pathogenesis and recovery in COVID-19.

A Single Cell Transcriptomic Atlas Characterizes Aging Tissues in the Mouse

Aging is characterized by a progressive loss of physiological integrity, leading to impaired function and increased vulnerability to death 1. Despite rapid advances over recent years 2, many of the molecular and cellular processes which underlie progressive loss of healthy physiology are poorly understood. To gain a better insight into these processes we have created a single cell transcriptomic atlas across the life span of Mus musculus which includes data from 18 tissues and organs. We discovered cell-specific changes occurring across multiple cell types and organs, as well as age related changes in the cellular composition of different organs. Using single-cell transcriptomic data we were able to assess cell type specific manifestations of different hallmarks of aging, such as senescence 3, changes in the activity of metabolic pathways 4, depletion of stem-cell populations 5, genomic instability 6 and the role of inflammation as well as other changes in the organism’s immune system2. This Tabula Muris Senis provides a wealth of new molecular information about how the most significant hallmarks of aging are reflected in a broad range of tissues and cell types.

Single-Cell Analyses Inform Mechanisms of Myeloid-Targeted Therapies in Colon Cancer (SMART-Seq2)

Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) is a powerful tool for defining cellular diversity in tumors, but its application toward dissecting mechanisms underlying immune-modulating therapies is scarce. We performed scRNA-seq analyses on immune and stromal populations from colorectal cancer patients, identifying specific macrophage and conventional dendritic cell (cDC) subsets as key mediators of cellular cross-talk in the tumor microenvironment. Defining comparable myeloid populations in mouse tumors enabled characterization of their response to myeloid-targeted immunotherapy. Treatment with anti-CSF1R preferentially depleted macrophages with an inflammatory signature but spared macrophage populations that in mouse and human expresses pro-angiogenic/tumorigenic genes. Treatment with a CD40 agonist antibody preferentially activated a cDC population and increased Bhlhe40+ Th1-like cells and CD8+ memory T cells. Our comprehensive analysis of key myeloid subsets in human and mouse identifies critical cellular interactions regulating tumor immunity and defines mechanisms underlying myeloid-targeted immunotherapies currently undergoing clinical testing.

Single-Cell Analyses Inform Mechanisms of Myeloid-Targeted Therapies in Colon Cancer (10X)

Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) is a powerful tool for defining cellular diversity in tumors, but its application toward dissecting mechanisms underlying immune-modulating therapies is scarce. We performed scRNA-seq analyses on immune and stromal populations from colorectal cancer patients, identifying specific macrophage and conventional dendritic cell (cDC) subsets as key mediators of cellular cross-talk in the tumor microenvironment. Defining comparable myeloid populations in mouse tumors enabled characterization of their response to myeloid-targeted immunotherapy. Treatment with anti-CSF1R preferentially depleted macrophages with an inflammatory signature but spared macrophage populations that in mouse and human expresses pro-angiogenic/tumorigenic genes. Treatment with a CD40 agonist antibody preferentially activated a cDC population and increased Bhlhe40+ Th1-like cells and CD8+ memory T cells. Our comprehensive analysis of key myeloid subsets in human and mouse identifies critical cellular interactions regulating tumor immunity and defines mechanisms underlying myeloid-targeted immunotherapies currently undergoing clinical testing.

A Single Cell Transcriptomic Atlas Characterizes Aging Tissues in the Mouse (Tabular Muris Senis FACS)

Aging is characterized by a progressive loss of physiological integrity, leading to impaired function and increased vulnerability to death. Despite rapid advances over recent years, many of the molecular and cellular processes which underlie progressive loss of healthy physiology are poorly understood. To gain a better insight into these processes we have created a single cell transcriptomic atlas across the life span of Mus musculus which includes data from 23 tissues and organs. We discovered cell-specific changes occurring across multiple cell types and organs, as well as age related changes in the cellular composition of different organs. Using single-cell transcriptomic data we were able to assess cell type specific manifestations of different hallmarks of aging, such as senescence, genomic instability and changes in the organism’s immune system. This Tabula Muris Senis provides a wealth of new molecular information about how the most significant hallmarks of aging are reflected in a broad range of tissues and cell types.

A Single Cell Transcriptomic Atlas Characterizes Aging Tissues in the Mouse (Tabular Muris Senis droplet)

Aging is characterized by a progressive loss of physiological integrity, leading to impaired function and increased vulnerability to death1. Despite rapid advances over recent years, many of the molecular and cellular processes which underlie progressive loss of healthy physiology are poorly understood2. To gain a better insight into these processes we have created a single cell transcriptomic atlas across the life span of Mus musculus which includes data from 23 tissues and organs. We discovered cell-specific changes occurring across multiple cell types and organs, as well as age related changes in the cellular composition of different organs. Using single-cell transcriptomic data we were able to assess cell type specific manifestations of different hallmarks of aging, such as senescence3, genomic instability4 and changes in the organism’s immune system2. This Tabula Muris Senis provides a wealth of new molecular information about how the most significant hallmarks of aging are reflected in a broad range of tissues and cell types.

A conserved dendritic-cell regulatory program limits antitumour immunity

Checkpoint blockade therapies have improved cancer treatment, but such immunotherapy regimens fail in a large subset of patients. Conventional type 1 dendritic cells (DC1s) control the response to checkpoint blockade in preclinical models and are associated with better overall survival in patients with cancer, reflecting the specialized ability of these cells to prime the responses of CD8+ T cells1,2,3. Paradoxically, however, DC1s can be found in tumours that resist checkpoint blockade, suggesting that the functions of these cells may be altered in some lesions. Here, using single-cell RNA sequencing in human and mouse non-small-cell lung cancers, we identify a cluster of dendritic cells (DCs) that we name ‘mature DCs enriched in immunoregulatory molecules’ (mregDCs), owing to their coexpression of immunoregulatory genes (Cd274, Pdcd1lg2 and Cd200) and maturation genes (Cd40, Ccr7 and Il12b). We find that the mregDC program is expressed by canonical DC1s and DC2s upon uptake of tumour antigens. We further find that upregulation of the programmed death ligand 1 protein—a key checkpoint molecule—in mregDCs is induced by the receptor tyrosine kinase AXL, while upregulation of interleukin (IL)-12 depends strictly on interferon-γ and is controlled negatively by IL-4 signalling. Blocking IL-4 enhances IL-12 production by tumour-antigen-bearing mregDC1s, expands the pool of tumour-infiltrating effector T cells and reduces tumour burden. We have therefore uncovered a regulatory module associated with tumour-antigen uptake that reduces DC1 functionality in human and mouse cancers.