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Elucidation of tumor-stromal heterogeneity and the ligand-receptor interactome by single cell transcriptomics in real-world pancreatic cancer biopsies

By Jaewon J. Lee, Vincent Bernard, Alexander Semaan, Maria E. Monberg, Jonathan Huang, Bret M. Stephens, Daniel Lin, Brian R Weston, Manoop S Bhutani, Cara L. Haymaker, Chantale Bernatchez, Cullen M. Taniguchi, Anirban Maitra, Paola A. Guerrero

Posted 29 Jul 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.28.225813

Precision medicine approaches in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) are imperative for improving disease outcomes. However, the long-term fidelity of recently deployed ex vivo preclinical platforms, such as patient-derived organoids (PDOs) remains unknown. Through single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq), we identify substantial transcriptomic evolution of PDOs propagated from the parental tumor, which may alter predicted drug sensitivity. In contrast, scRNA-seq is readily applicable to limited biopsies from human primary and metastatic PDAC and identifies most cancers as being an admixture of previously described epithelial transcriptomic subtypes. Integrative analyses of our data provide an in-depth characterization of the heterogeneity within the tumor microenvironment, including cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF) subclasses, and predicts for a multitude of ligand-receptor interactions, revealing potential targets for immunotherapy approaches. While PDOs continue to enable prospective therapeutic prediction, our analysis also demonstrates the complementarity of using orthogonal de novo biopsies from PDAC patients paired with scRNA-seq to inform clinical decision-making. ### Competing Interest Statement A.M. receives royalties for a pancreatic cancer biomarker test from Cosmos Wisdom Biotechnology, and this financial relationship is managed and monitored by the UTMDACC Conflict of Interest Committee. A.M. is also listed as an inventor on a patent that has been licensed by Johns Hopkins University to Thrive Earlier Detection. C.L.H. is on the Scientific Advisory Board of BriaCell and has no conflict of interest relevant to this study.

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