Spatially restricted drivers and transitional cell populations cooperate with the microenvironment in untreated and chemo-resistant pancreatic cancer

Daniel Cui Zhou, Reyka G. Jayasinghe, Siqi Chen, John M. Herndon, Michael D. Iglesia, Pooja Navale, Michael C. Wendl, Wagma Caravan, Kazuhito Sato, Erik Storrs, Chia Kuei Mo, Jingxian Liu, Austin N. Southard-Smith, Yige Wu, Nataly Naser Al Deen, John M. Baer, Robert S. Fulton, Matthew A. Wyczalkowski, Ruiyang Liu, Catrina C. FronickLucinda A. Fulton, Andrew Shinkle, Lisa Thammavong, Houxiang Zhu, Hua Sun, Liang Bo Wang, Yize Li, Chong Zuo, Joshua F. McMichael, Sherri R. Davies, Elizabeth L. Appelbaum, Keenan J. Robbins, Sara E. Chasnoff, Xiaolu Yang, Ashley N. Reeb, Clara Oh, Mamatha Serasanambati, Preet Lal, Rajees Varghese, Jay R. Mashl, Jennifer Ponce, Nadezhda V. Terekhanova, Lijun Yao, Fang Wang, Lijun Chen, Michael Schnaubelt, Rita Jui Hsien Lu, Julie K. Schwarz, Sidharth V. Puram, Albert H. Kim, Sheng Kwei Song, Kooresh I. Shoghi, Ken S. Lau, Tao Ju, Ken Chen, Deyali Chatterjee, William G. Hawkins, Hui Zhang, Samuel Achilefu, Milan G. Chheda, Stephen T. Oh, William E. Gillanders, Feng Chen, David G. DeNardo, Ryan C. Fields, Li Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is a lethal disease with limited treatment options and poor survival. We studied 83 spatial samples from 31 patients (11 treatment-naïve and 20 treated) using single-cell/nucleus RNA sequencing, bulk-proteogenomics, spatial transcriptomics and cellular imaging. Subpopulations of tumor cells exhibited signatures of proliferation, KRAS signaling, cell stress and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Mapping mutations and copy number events distinguished tumor populations from normal and transitional cells, including acinar-to-ductal metaplasia and pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia. Pathology-assisted deconvolution of spatial transcriptomic data identified tumor and transitional subpopulations with distinct histological features. We showed coordinated expression of TIGIT in exhausted and regulatory T cells and Nectin in tumor cells. Chemo-resistant samples contain a threefold enrichment of inflammatory cancer-associated fibroblasts that upregulate metallothioneins. Our study reveals a deeper understanding of the intricate substructure of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma tumors that could help improve therapy for patients with this disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1390-1405
Number of pages16
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


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