Various species of the intestinal microbiota have been associated with the development of colorectal cancer, but it has not been demonstrated that bacteria have a direct role in the occurrence of oncogenic mutations. Escherichia coli can carry the pathogenicity island pks, which encodes a set of enzymes that synthesize colibactin. This compound is believed to alkylate DNA on adenine residues and induces double-strand breaks in cultured cells. Here we expose human intestinal organoids to genotoxic pks+ E. coli by repeated luminal injection over five months. Whole-genome sequencing of clonal organoids before and after this exposure revealed a distinct mutational signature that was absent from organoids injected with isogenic pks-mutant bacteria. The same mutational signature was detected in a subset of 5,876 human cancer genomes from two independent cohorts, predominantly in colorectal cancer. Our study describes a distinct mutational signature in colorectal cancer and implies that the underlying mutational process results directly from past exposure to bacteria carrying the colibactin-producing pks pathogenicity island.
Genomic alterations shape cell phenotypes and the structure of tumor ecosystems in poorly defined ways. To investigate these relationships, we used imaging mass cytometry to quantify the expression of 37 proteins with subcellular spatial resolution in 483 tumors from the METABRIC cohort. Single-cell analysis revealed cell phenotypes spanning epithelial, stromal and immune types. Distinct combinations of cell phenotypes and cell–cell interactions were associated with genomic subtypes of breast cancer. Epithelial luminal cell phenotypes separated into those predominantly impacted by mutations and those affected by copy number aberrations. Several features of tumor ecosystems, including cellular neighborhoods, were linked to prognosis, illustrating their clinical relevance. In summary, systematic analysis of single-cell phenotypic and spatial correlates of genomic alterations in cancer revealed how genomes shape both the composition and architecture of breast tumor ecosystems and will enable greater understanding of the phenotypic impact of genomic alterations.
Somatic mutations in cancer genomes are caused by multiple mutational processes, each of which generates a characteristic mutational signature. Here, as part of the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we characterized mutational signatures using 84,729,690 somatic mutations from 4,645 whole-genome and 19,184 exome sequences that encompass most types of cancer. We identified 49 single-base-substitution, 11 doublet-base-substitution, 4 clustered-base-substitution and 17 small insertion-and-deletion signatures. The substantial size of our dataset, compared with previous analyses, enabled the discovery of new signatures, the separation of overlapping signatures and the decomposition of signatures into components that may represent associated—but distinct—DNA damage, repair and/or replication mechanisms. By estimating the contribution of each signature to the mutational catalogues of individual cancer genomes, we revealed associations of signatures to exogenous or endogenous exposures, as well as to defective DNA-maintenance processes. However, many signatures are of unknown cause. This analysis provides a systematic perspective on the repertoire of mutational processes that contribute to the development of human cancer.
Tobacco smoking causes lung cancer a process that is driven by more than 60 carcinogens in cigarette smoke that directly damage and mutate DNA. The profound effects of tobacco on the genome of lung cancer cells are well-documented, but equivalent data for normal bronchial cells are lacking. Here we sequenced whole genomes of 632 colonies derived from single bronchial epithelial cells across 16 subjects. Tobacco smoking was the major influence on mutational burden, typically adding from 1,000 to 10,000 mutations per cell; massively increasing the variance both within and between subjects; and generating several distinct mutational signatures of substitutions and of insertions and deletions. A population of cells in individuals with a history of smoking had mutational burdens that were equivalent to those expected for people who had never smoked: these cells had less damage from tobacco-specific mutational processes, were fourfold more frequent in ex-smokers than current smokers and had considerably longer telomeres than their more-mutated counterparts. Driver mutations increased in frequency with age, affecting 4–14% of cells in middle-aged subjects who had never smoked. In current smokers, at least 25% of cells carried driver mutations and 0–6% of cells had two or even three drivers. Thus, tobacco smoking increases mutational burden, cell-to-cell heterogeneity and driver mutations, but quitting promotes replenishment of the bronchial epithelium from mitotically quiescent cells that have avoided tobacco mutagenesis.
Tissue repair is a protective response after injury, but repetitive or prolonged injury can lead to fibrosis, a pathological state of excessive scarring. To pinpoint the dynamic mechanisms underlying fibrosis, it is important to understand the principles of the cell circuits that carry out tissue repair. In this study, we establish a cell-circuit framework for the myofibroblast-macrophage circuit in wound healing, including the accumulation of scar-forming extracellular matrix. We find that fibrosis results from multistability between three outcomes, which we term “hot fibrosis” characterized by many macrophages, “cold fibrosis” lacking macrophages, and normal wound healing. This framework clarifies several unexplained phenomena including the paradoxical effect of macrophage depletion, the limited time-window in which removing inflammation leads to healing, and why scar maturation takes months. We define key parameters that control the transition from healing to fibrosis, which may serve as potential targets for therapeutic reduction of fibrosis.