Tumor microbiome links cellular programs and immunity in pancreatic cancer

October 10, 2022 • Cancer Cell
Graphical abstract for publication

Drs. Martin Blaser and Omary Bishr were 2 of the co-authors on this publication.


Microorganisms are detected in multiple cancer types, including in putatively sterile organs, but the contexts in which they influence oncogenesis or anti-tumor responses in humans remain unclear. We recently developed single-cell analysis of host-microbiome interactions (SAHMI), a computational pipeline to recover and denoise microbial signals from single-cell sequencing of host tissues. Here we use SAHMI to interrogate tumor-microbiome interactions in two human pancreatic cancer cohorts. We identify somatic-cell-associated bacteria in a subset of tumors and their near absence in nonmalignant tissues. These bacteria predominantly pair with tumor cells, and their presence is associated with cell-type-specific gene expression and pathway activities, including cell motility and immune signaling. Modeling results indicate that tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes closely resemble T cells from infected tissue. Finally, using multiple independent datasets, a signature of cell-associated bacteria predicts clinical prognosis. Tumor-microbiome crosstalk may modulate tumorigenesis in pancreatic cancer with implications for clinical management.

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