skip to main content


Title: DRMref: comprehensive reference map of drug resistance mechanisms in human cancer
Abstract

Drug resistance poses a significant challenge in cancer treatment. Despite the initial effectiveness of therapies such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy, many patients eventually develop resistance. To gain deep insights into the underlying mechanisms, single-cell profiling has been performed to interrogate drug resistance at cell level. Herein, we have built the DRMref database (https://ccsm.uth.edu/DRMref/) to provide comprehensive characterization of drug resistance using single-cell data from drug treatment settings. The current version of DRMref includes 42 single-cell datasets from 30 studies, covering 382 samples, 13 major cancer types, 26 cancer subtypes, 35 treatment regimens and 42 drugs. All datasets in DRMref are browsable and searchable, with detailed annotations provided. Meanwhile, DRMref includes analyses of cellular composition, intratumoral heterogeneity, epithelial–mesenchymal transition, cell–cell interaction and differentially expressed genes in resistant cells. Notably, DRMref investigates the drug resistance mechanisms (e.g. Aberration of Drug’s Therapeutic Target, Drug Inactivation by Structure Modification, etc.) in resistant cells. Additional enrichment analysis of hallmark/KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes)/GO (Gene Ontology) pathways, as well as the identification of microRNA, motif and transcription factors involved in resistant cells, is provided in DRMref for user’s exploration. Overall, DRMref serves as a unique single-cell-based resource for studying drug resistance, drug combination therapy and discovering novel drug targets.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
2217515
NSF-PAR ID:
10475095
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Nucleic Acids Research
Volume:
52
Issue:
D1
ISSN:
0305-1048
Format(s):
Medium: X Size: p. D1253-D1264
Size(s):
p. D1253-D1264
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Hubert, Florence (Ed.)
    Cell competition is recognized to be instrumental to the dynamics and structure of the tumor-host interface in invasive cancers. In mild competition scenarios, the healthy tissue and cancer cells can coexist. When the competition is aggressive, competitive cells, the so called super-competitors, expand by killing other cells. Novel chemotherapy drugs and molecularly targeted drugs are commonly administered as part of cancer therapy. Both types of drugs are susceptible to various mechanisms of drug resistance, obstructing or preventing a successful outcome. In this paper, we develop a cancer growth model that accounts for the competition between cancer cells and healthy cells. The model incorporates resistance to both chemotherapy and targeted drugs. In both cases, the level of drug resistance is assumed to be a continuous variable ranging from fully-sensitive to fully-resistant. Using our model we demonstrate that when the competition is moderate, therapies using both drugs are more effective compared with single drug therapies. However, when cancer cells are highly competitive, targeted drugs become more effective. The results of the study stress the importance of adjusting the therapy to the pre-treatment resistance levels. We conclude with a study of the spatiotemporal propagation of drug resistance in a competitive setting, verifying that the same conclusions hold in the spatially heterogeneous case. 
    more » « less
  2. The CDK4/6 inhibitor palbociclib blocks cell cycle progression in Estrogen receptor–positive, human epidermal growth factor 2 receptor–negative (ER+/HER2−) breast tumor cells. Despite the drug’s success in improving patient outcomes, a small percentage of tumor cells continues to divide in the presence of palbociclib—a phenomenon we refer to as fractional resistance. It is critical to understand the cellular mechanisms underlying fractional resistance because the precise percentage of resistant cells in patient tissue is a strong predictor of clinical outcomes. Here, we hypothesize that fractional resistance arises from cell-to-cell differences in core cell cycle regulators that allow a subset of cells to escape CDK4/6 inhibitor therapy. We used multiplex, single-cell imaging to identify fractionally resistant cells in both cultured and primary breast tumor samples resected from patients. Resistant cells showed premature accumulation of multiple G1 regulators including E2F1, retinoblastoma protein, and CDK2, as well as enhanced sensitivity to pharmacological inhibition of CDK2 activity. Using trajectory inference approaches, we show how plasticity among cell cycle regulators gives rise to alternate cell cycle “paths” that allow individual tumor cells to escape palbociclib treatment. Understanding drivers of cell cycle plasticity, and how to eliminate resistant cell cycle paths, could lead to improved cancer therapies targeting fractionally resistant cells to improve patient outcomes.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Solid tumors often contain genetically different populations of cancer cells, stromal cells, various structural and soluble proteins, and other soluble signaling molecules. The American Cancer society estimated 1,958,310 new cancer cases and 609,820 cancer deaths in the United States in 2023. A major barrier against successful treatment of cancer patients is drug resistance. Gain of stem cell-like states by cancer cells under drug pressure or due to interactions with the tumor microenvironment is a major mechanism that renders therapies ineffective. Identifying approaches to target cancer stem cells is expected to improve treatment outcomes for patients. Most of our understanding of drug resistance and the role of cancer stemness is from monolayer cell cultures. Recent advances in cell culture technologies have enabled developing sophisticated three-dimensional tumor models that facilitate mechanistic studies of cancer drug resistance. This review summarizes the role of cancer stemness in drug resistance and highlights the various tumor models that are used to discover the underlying mechanisms and test potentially novel therapeutics.

     
    more » « less
  4. Cell–cell interactions are critical for transmitting signals among cells and maintaining their normal functions from the single-cell level to tissues. In cancer studies, interactions between drug-resistant and drug-sensitive cells play an important role in the development of chemotherapy resistance of tumors. As metabolites directly reflect the cell status, metabolomics studies provide insight into cell–cell communication. Mass spectrometry (MS) is a powerful tool for metabolomics studies, and single cell MS (SCMS) analysis can provide unique information for understanding interactions among heterogeneous cells. In the current study, we utilized a direct co-culture system (with cell–cell contact) to study metabolomics of single cells affected by cell–cell interactions in their living status. A fluorescence microscope was utilized to distinguish these two types of cells for SCMS metabolomics studies using the Single-probe SCMS technique under ambient conditions. Our results show that through interactions with drug-resistant cells, drug-sensitive cancer cells acquired significantly increased drug resistance and exhibited drastically altered metabolites. Further investigation found that the increased drug resistance was associated with multiple metabolism regulations in drug-sensitive cells through co-culture such as the upregulation of sphingomyelins lipids and lactic acid and the downregulation of TCA cycle intermediates. The method allows for direct MS metabolomics studies of individual cells labeled with fluorescent proteins or dyes among heterogeneous populations. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer is typically lethal, exhibiting intrinsic or acquired resistance to second-generation androgen-targeting therapies and minimal response to immune checkpoint inhibitors1. Cellular programs driving resistance in both cancer and immune cells remain poorly understood. We present single-cell transcriptomes from 14 patients with advanced prostate cancer, spanning all common metastatic sites. Irrespective of treatment exposure, adenocarcinoma cells pervasively coexpressed multiple androgen receptor isoforms, including truncated isoforms hypothesized to mediate resistance to androgen-targeting therapies2,3. Resistance to enzalutamide was associated with cancer cell–intrinsic epithelial–mesenchymal transition and transforming growth factor-β signaling. Small cell carcinoma cells exhibited divergent expression programs driven by transcriptional regulators promoting lineage plasticity and HOXB5, HOXB6 and NR1D2 (refs.4–6). Additionally, a subset of patients had high expression of dysfunction markers on cytotoxic CD8+T cells undergoing clonal expansion following enzalutamide treatment. Collectively, the transcriptional characterization of cancer and immune cells from human metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer provides a basis for the development of therapeutic approaches complementing androgen signaling inhibition.

     
    more » « less