Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is classified as a high-grade neuroendocrine (NE) tumor, but a subset of SCLC has been termed “variant” due to the loss of NE characteristics. In this study, we computed NE scores for patient-derived SCLC cell lines and xenografts, as well as human tumors. We aligned NE properties with transcription factor-defined molecular subtypes. Then we investigated the different immune phenotypes associated with high and low NE scores. We found repression of immune response genes as a shared feature between classic SCLC and pulmonary neuroendocrine cells of the healthy lung. With loss of NE fate, variant SCLC tumors regain cell-autonomous immune gene expression and exhibit higher tumor-immune interactions. Pan-cancer analysis revealed this NE lineage-specific immune phenotype in other cancers. Additionally, we observed MHC I re-expression in SCLC upon development of chemoresistance. These findings may help guide the design of treatment regimens in SCLC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)