Single-cell analyses define a continuum of cell state and composition changes in the malignant transformation of polyps to colorectal cancer

Winston R. Becker, Stephanie A. Nevins, Derek C. Chen, Roxanne Chiu, Aaron M. Horning, Tuhin K. Guha, Rozelle Laquindanum, Meredith Mills, Hassan Chaib, Uri Ladabaum, Teri Longacre, Jeanne Shen, Edward D. Esplin, Anshul Kundaje, James M. Ford, Christina Curtis, Michael P. Snyder, William J. Greenleaf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

To chart cell composition and cell state changes that occur during the transformation of healthy colon to precancerous adenomas to colorectal cancer (CRC), we generated single-cell chromatin accessibility profiles and single-cell transcriptomes from 1,000 to 10,000 cells per sample for 48 polyps, 27 normal tissues and 6 CRCs collected from patients with or without germline APC mutations. A large fraction of polyp and CRC cells exhibit a stem-like phenotype, and we define a continuum of epigenetic and transcriptional changes occurring in these stem-like cells as they progress from homeostasis to CRC. Advanced polyps contain increasing numbers of stem-like cells, regulatory T cells and a subtype of pre-cancer-associated fibroblasts. In the cancerous state, we observe T cell exhaustion, RUNX1-regulated cancer-associated fibroblasts and increasing accessibility associated with HNF4A motifs in epithelia. DNA methylation changes in sporadic CRC are strongly anti-correlated with accessibility changes along this continuum, further identifying regulatory markers for molecular staging of polyps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)985-995
Number of pages11
JournalNature genetics
Volume54
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics

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