Archival single-cell genomics reveals persistent subclones during DCIS progression

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a common precursor of invasive breast cancer. Our understanding of its genomic progression to recurrent disease remains poor, partly due to challenges associated with the genomic profiling of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) materials. Here, we developed Arc-well, a high-throughput single-cell DNA-sequencing method that is compatible with FFPE materials. We validated our method by profiling 40,330 single cells from cell lines, a frozen tissue, and 27 FFPE samples from breast, lung, and prostate tumors stored for 3–31 years. Analysis of 10 patients with matched DCIS and cancers that recurred 2–16 years later show that many primary DCIS had already undergone whole-genome doubling and clonal diversification and that they shared genomic lineages with persistent subclones in the recurrences. Evolutionary analysis suggests that most DCIS cases in our cohort underwent an evolutionary bottleneck, and further identified chromosome aberrations in the persistent subclones that were associated with recurrence.

Journal Cell
Authors Kaile Wang et al
DATE 15 August 2023
Metabolic profiling stratifies colorectal cancer and reveals adenosylhomocysteinase as a therapeutic target

The genomic landscape of colorectal cancer (CRC) is shaped by inactivating mutations in tumour suppressors such as APC, and oncogenic mutations such as mutant KRAS. Here we used genetically engineered mouse models, and multimodal mass spectrometry-based metabolomics to study the impact of common genetic drivers of CRC on the metabolic landscape of the intestine. We show that untargeted metabolic profiling can be applied to stratify intestinal tissues according to underlying genetic alterations, and use mass spectrometry imaging to identify tumour, stromal and normal adjacent tissues. By identifying ions that drive variation between normal and transformed tissues, we found dysregulation of the methionine cycle to be a hallmark of APC-deficient CRC. Loss of Apc in the mouse intestine was found to be sufficient to drive expression of one of its enzymes, adenosylhomocysteinase (AHCY), which was also found to be transcriptionally upregulated in human CRC. Targeting of AHCY function impaired growth of APC-deficient organoids in vitro, and prevented the characteristic hyperproliferative/crypt progenitor phenotype driven by acute deletion of Apc in vivo, even in the context of mutant Kras. Finally, pharmacological inhibition of AHCY reduced intestinal tumour burden in ApcMin/+ mice indicating its potential as a metabolic drug target in CRC.

Team Rosetta
Journal Nature Metabolism
Authors Johan Vande Voorde et al
DATE 14 August 2023
The dawn of spatial omics

Spatial omics has been widely heralded as the new frontier in life sciences. This term encompasses a wide range of techniques that promise to transform many areas of biology and eventually revolutionize pathology by measuring physical tissue structure and molecular characteristics at the same time. Although the field came of age in the past 5 years, it still suffers from some growing pains: barriers to entry, robustness, unclear best practices for experimental design and analysis, and lack of standardization. In this Review, we present a systematic catalog of the different families of spatial omics technologies; highlight their principles, power, and limitations; and give some perspective and suggestions on the biggest challenges that lay ahead in this incredibly powerful—but still hard to navigate—landscape.

Journal Science
Authors Dario Bressan, Giorgia Battistoni, Greg Hannon
DATE 04 August 2023
Topography of mutational signatures in human cancer

The somatic mutations found in a cancer genome are imprinted by different mutational processes. Each process exhibits a characteristic mutational signature, which can be affected by the genome architecture. However, the interplay between mutational signatures and topographical genomic features has not been extensively explored. Here, we integrate mutations from 5,120 whole-genome-sequenced tumors from 40 cancer types with 516 topographical features from ENCODE to evaluate the effect of nucleosome occupancy, histone modifications, CTCF binding, replication timing, and transcription/replication strand asymmetries on the cancer-specific accumulation of mutations from distinct mutagenic processes. Most mutational signatures are affected by topographical features, with signatures of related etiologies being similarly affected. Certain signatures exhibit periodic behaviors or cancer-type-specific enrichments/depletions near topographical features, revealing further information about the processes that imprinted them. Our findings, disseminated via the COSMIC (Catalog of Somatic Mutations in Cancer) signatures database, provide a comprehensive online resource for exploring the interactions between mutational signatures and topographical features across human cancer.

Team Mutographs
Journal Cell Reports
Authors Burçak Otlu et al
DATE 03 August 2023
Active surveillance versus treatment in low-risk DCIS: Women’s preferences in the LORD-trial


Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) can progress to invasive breast cancer (IBC), but most DCIS lesions remain indolent. However, guidelines recommend surgery, often supplemented by radiotherapy. This implies overtreatment of indolent DCIS. The non-randomised patient preference LORD-trial tests whether active surveillance (AS) for low-risk DCIS is safe, by giving women with low-risk DCIS a choice between AS and conventional treatment (CT). Here, we aim to describe how participants are distributed among both trial arms, identify their motives for their preference, and assess factors associated with their choice.


Data were extracted from baseline questionnaires. Descriptive statistics were used to assess the distribution and characteristics of participants; thematic analyses to extract self-reported reasons for the choice of trial arm, and multivariable logistic regression analyses to investigate associations between patient characteristics and chosen trial arm.


Of 377 women included, 76% chose AS and 24% CT. Most frequently cited reasons for AS were “treatment is not (yet) necessary” (59%) and trust in the AS-plan (39%). Reasons for CT were cancer worry (51%) and perceived certainty (29%). Women opting for AS more often had lower educational levels (OR 0.45; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.22–0.93) and more often reported experiencing shared decision making (OR 2.71; 95% CI, 1.37–5.37) than women choosing CT.


The LORD-trial is the first to offer women with low-risk DCIS a choice between CT and AS. Most women opted for AS and reported high levels of trust in the safety of AS. Their preferences highlight the necessity to establish the safety of AS for low-risk DCIS.

Journal European Journal of Cancer
Authors Renée S.J.M. Schmitz et al
DATE 03 August 2023