Extrachromosomal DNAs (ecDNAs) are common in cancer, but many questions about their origin, structural dynamics and impact on intratumor heterogeneity are still unresolved. Here we describe single-cell extrachromosomal circular DNA and transcriptome sequencing (scEC&T-seq), a method for parallel sequencing of circular DNAs and full-length mRNA from single cells. By applying scEC&T-seq to cancer cells, we describe intercellular differences in ecDNA content while investigating their structural heterogeneity and transcriptional impact. Oncogene-containing ecDNAs were clonally present in cancer cells and drove intercellular oncogene expression differences. In contrast, other small circular DNAs were exclusive to individual cells, indicating differences in their selection and propagation. Intercellular differences in ecDNA structure pointed to circular recombination as a mechanism of ecDNA evolution. These results demonstrate scEC&T-seq as an approach to systematically characterize both small and large circular DNA in cancer cells, which will facilitate the analysis of these DNA elements in cancer and beyond.
Cachexia, a systemic wasting condition, is considered a late consequence of diseases, including cancer, organ failure, or infections, and contributes to significant morbidity and mortality. The induction process and mechanistic progression of cachexia are incompletely understood. Refocusing academic efforts away from advanced cachexia to the etiology of cachexia may enable discoveries of new therapeutic approaches. Here, we review drivers, mechanisms, organismal predispositions, evidence for multi-organ interaction, model systems, clinical research, trials, and care provision from early onset to late cachexia. Evidence is emerging that distinct inflammatory, metabolic, and neuro-modulatory drivers can initiate processes that ultimately converge on advanced cachexia.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a non-obligate precursor of invasive breast cancer (IBC). Due to a lack of biomarkers able to distinguish high- from low-risk cases, DCIS is treated similar to early IBC even though the minority of untreated cases eventually become invasive. Here, we characterized 115 patient-derived mouse-intraductal (MIND) DCIS models reflecting the full spectrum of DCIS observed in patients. Utilizing the possibility to follow the natural progression of DCIS combined with omics and imaging data, we reveal multiple prognostic factors for high-risk DCIS including high grade, HER2 amplification, expansive 3D growth, and high burden of copy number aberrations. In addition, sequential transplantation of xenografts showed minimal phenotypic and genotypic changes over time, indicating that invasive behavior is an intrinsic phenotype of DCIS and supporting a multiclonal evolution model. Moreover, this study provides a collection of 19 distributable DCIS-MIND models spanning all molecular subtypes.
Over the past decade, melanoma has led the field in new cancer treatments, with impressive gains in on-treatment survival but more modest improvements in overall survival. Melanoma presents heterogeneity and transcriptional plasticity that recapitulates distinct melanocyte developmental states and phenotypes, allowing it to adapt to and eventually escape even the most advanced treatments. Despite remarkable advances in our understanding of melanoma biology and genetics, the melanoma cell of origin is still fiercely debated because both melanocyte stem cells and mature melanocytes can be transformed. Animal models and high-throughput single-cell sequencing approaches have opened new opportunities to address this question. Here, we discuss the melanocytic journey from the neural crest, where they emerge as melanoblasts, to the fully mature pigmented melanocytes resident in several tissues. We describe a new understanding of melanocyte biology and the different melanocyte subpopulations and microenvironments they inhabit, and how this provides unique insights into melanoma initiation and progression. We highlight recent findings on melanoma heterogeneity and transcriptional plasticity and their implications for exciting new research areas and treatment opportunities. The lessons from melanocyte biology reveal how cells that are present to protect us from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation reach back to their origins to become a potentially deadly cancer.
Aneuploidy, the presence of chromosome gains or losses, is a hallmark of cancer. Here, we describe KaryoCreate (karyotype CRISPR-engineered aneuploidy technology), a system that enables the generation of chromosome-specific aneuploidies by co-expression of an sgRNA targeting chromosome-specific CENPA-binding ɑ-satellite repeats together with dCas9 fused to mutant KNL1. We design unique and highly specific sgRNAs for 19 of the 24 chromosomes. Expression of these constructs leads to missegregation and induction of gains or losses of the targeted chromosome in cellular progeny, with an average efficiency of 8% for gains and 12% for losses (up to 20%) validated across 10 chromosomes. Using KaryoCreate in colon epithelial cells, we show that chromosome 18q loss, frequent in gastrointestinal cancers, promotes resistance to TGF-β, likely due to synergistic hemizygous deletion of multiple genes. Altogether, we describe an innovative technology to create and study chromosome missegregation and aneuploidy in the context of cancer and beyond.