The cellular trajectories of tumor-associated macrophages decipher the heterogeneity of pancreatic cancer

  • Impact factors: 2.9
  • Publication: FUNCTIONAL & INTEGRATIVE GENOMICS
  • Author:Lin Jiajing, Lu Fengchun, Wu Yuwei, Huang Heguang, Pan Yu
  • DOI citation-doi:10.1007/s10142-023-01266-y
  • Date:2023-11-22

Emerging evidence indicates that the interactions and dynamic changes among tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are pivotal in molding the tumor microenvironment (TME), thereby influencing diverse clinical outcomes. However, the potential clinical ramifications of these evolutionary shifts in tumor-associated macrophages within pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PAAD) remain largely unexamined. Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data were retrieved from the Tumor Immune Single-cell Hub. The Seurat and Monocle algorithms were employed to elucidate the progression of TAMs, using non-negative matrix factorization (NMF) to determine molecular classifications. Subsequently, the prognosis, biological characteristics, genomic modifications, and immune landscape across various clusters were interpreted. Furthermore, the sensitivity of potential therapeutic drugs between subtypes was predicted. Cellular experiments were conducted to explore the function of the NR1H3 gene in pancreatic cancer. These experiments encompassed gene knockdown, proliferation assessment, clone formation evaluation, transwell examination, and apoptosis analysis. Trajectory gene expression analysis of tumor-associated macrophages identified three disparate clusters, each associated with different clinical outcomes Compared to clusters C1 and C2, cluster C3 is seemingly at a less advanced pathological stage and associates with a relatively favorable prognosis. Further investigation revealed pronounced genetic instability in cluster C2, whereas cluster C3 demonstrated notable genetic stability. Cluster C1, characterized as “immune-hot,” exhibits an abundance of immune cells and elevated immune checkpoint expression, suggesting its suitability for immunotherapy. Furthermore, several potential therapeutic agents have been pinpointed, potentially facilitating the clinical application of these insights. Cell assays indicated that NR1H3 knockdown markedly induced apoptosis and suppressed clonogenesis, migration, and proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells in the PTAU-8988 and PANC-1 cell lines. Overall, our study discerned three clusters with unique characteristics, defined by the evolution of TAMs. We propose customized therapeutic strategies for patients within these specific clusters to improve clinical outcomes and optimize clinical management. Graphical Abstract

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