Single-cell transcriptomics reveals involution mimicry during the specification of the basal breast cancer subtype.

Elsevier BV
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Cell Rep, 2021, 35, (2), pp. 108945
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Basal breast cancer is associated with younger age, early relapse, and a high mortality rate. Here, we use unbiased droplet-based single-cell RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) to elucidate the cellular basis of tumor progression during the specification of the basal breast cancer subtype from the luminal progenitor population in the MMTV-PyMT (mouse mammary tumor virus-polyoma middle tumor-antigen) mammary tumor model. We find that basal-like cancer cells resemble the alveolar lineage that is specified upon pregnancy and encompass the acquisition of an aberrant post-lactation developmental program of involution that triggers remodeling of the tumor microenvironment and metastatic dissemination. This involution mimicry is characterized by a highly interactive multicellular network, with involution cancer-associated fibroblasts playing a pivotal role in extracellular matrix remodeling and immunosuppression. Our results may partially explain the increased risk and poor prognosis of breast cancer associated with childbirth.
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