Mapping the immune environment in clear cell renal carcinoma by single-cell genomics


Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is one of the most immunologically distinct tumor types due to high response rate to immunotherapies, despite low tumor mutational burden. To characterize the tumor immune microenvironment of ccRCC, we applied single-cell-RNA sequencing (SCRS) along with T-cell-receptor (TCR) sequencing to map the transcriptomic heterogeneity of 25,688 individual CD45+ lymphoid and myeloid cells in matched tumor and blood from three patients with ccRCC. We also included 11,367 immune cells from four other individuals derived from the kidney and peripheral blood to facilitate the identification and assessment of ccRCC-specific differences. There is an overall increase in CD8+ T-cell and macrophage populations in tumor-infiltrated immune cells compared to normal renal tissue. We further demonstrate the divergent cell transcriptional states for tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells and identify a MKI67 + proliferative subpopulation being a potential culprit for the progression of ccRCC. Using the SCRS gene expression, we found preferential prediction of clinical outcomes and pathological diseases by subcluster assignment. With further characterization and functional validation, our findings may reveal certain subpopulations of immune cells amenable to therapeutic intervention.

In Communications Biology
Nick Borcherding
Nick Borcherding
Assistant Professor

My research includes systems immunology, single-cell sequencing technology, and computational frameworks.