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Toward minimal residual disease-directed therapy in melanoma


Abstract

Many patients with advanced cancers achieve dramatic responses to a panoply of therapeutics yet retain minimal residual disease (MRD), which ultimately results in relapse. To gain insights into the biology of MRD, we applied single-cell RNA sequencing to malignant cells isolated from BRAF mutant patient-derived xenograft melanoma cohorts exposed to concurrent RAF/MEK-inhibition. We identified distinct drug-tolerant transcriptional states, varying combinations of which co-occurred within MRDs from PDXs and biopsies of patients on treatment. One of these exhibited a neural crest stem cell (NCSC) transcriptional program largely driven by the nuclear receptor RXRG. An RXR antagonist mitigated accumulation of NCSCs in MRD and delayed the development of resistance. These data identify NCSCs as key drivers of resistance and illustrate the therapeutic potential of MRD-directed therapy. They also highlight how gene regulatory network architecture reprogramming may be therapeutically exploited to limit cellular heterogeneity, a key driver of disease progression and therapy resistance.

Abstract

Many patients with advanced cancers achieve dramatic responses to a panoply of therapeutics yet retain minimal residual disease (MRD), which ultimately results in relapse. To gain insights into the biology of MRD, we applied single-cell RNA sequencing to malignant cells isolated from BRAF mutant patient-derived xenograft melanoma cohorts exposed to concurrent RAF/MEK-inhibition. We identified distinct drug-tolerant transcriptional states, varying combinations of which co-occurred within MRDs from PDXs and biopsies of patients on treatment. One of these exhibited a neural crest stem cell (NCSC) transcriptional program largely driven by the nuclear receptor RXRG. An RXR antagonist mitigated accumulation of NCSCs in MRD and delayed the development of resistance. These data identify NCSCs as key drivers of resistance and illustrate the therapeutic potential of MRD-directed therapy. They also highlight how gene regulatory network architecture reprogramming may be therapeutically exploited to limit cellular heterogeneity, a key driver of disease progression and therapy resistance.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Dermatology Clinic
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, RXR signaling; cutaneous melanoma; drug tolerance; gene regulatory networks; single cell transcriptomics; targeted therapy
Language:English
Date:6 July 2018
Deposited On:22 Aug 2018 13:55
Last Modified:06 Oct 2019 05:53
Publisher:Cell Press (Elsevier)
ISSN:0092-8674
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.06.025
PubMed ID:30017245

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