Theranostics 2022; 12(9):4431-4445. doi:10.7150/thno.71364 This issue
1. Department of Laboratory Medicine, Severance Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
2. Institute of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Gangnam Severance Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
3. Pancreatobiliary Cancer Clinic, Department of Surgery, Gangnam Severance Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
* These authors contributed equally to this work.
Background: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), which commonly relapses due to chemotherapy resistance, has a poor 5-year survival rate (< 10%). The ability of PDAC to dynamically switch between cancer-initiating cell (CIC) and non-CIC states, which is influenced by both internal and external events, has been suggested as a reason for the low drug efficacy. However, cancer cell plasticity using patient-derived PDAC organoids remains poorly understood.
Methods: First, we successfully differentiated CICs, which were the main components of PDAC organoids, toward epithelial ductal carcinomas. We further established PDAC assembloids of organoid-derived differentiated ductal cancer cells with endothelial cells (ECs) and autologous immune cells. To investigate the mechanism for PDAC plasticity, we performed single-cell RNA sequencing analysis after culturing the assembloids for 7 days.
Results: In the PDAC assembloids, the ECs and immune cells acted as tumor-supporting cells and induced plasticity in the differentiated ductal carcinomas. We also observed that the transcriptome dynamics during PDAC re-programming were related to the WNT/beta-catenin pathway and apoptotic process. Interestingly, we found that WNT5B in the ECs was highly expressed by trans interaction with a JAG1. Furthermore, JAG1 was highly expressed on PDAC during differentiation, and NOTCH1/NOTCH2 were expressed on the ECs at the same time. The WNT5B expression level correlated positively with those of JAG1, NOTCH1, and NOTCH2, and high JAG1 expression correlated with poor survival. Additionally, we experimentally demonstrated that neutralizing JAG1 inhibited cancer cell plasticity.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that JAG1 on PDAC plays a critical role in cancer cell plasticity and maintenance of tumor heterogeneity.
Keywords: Human cancer organoid, cancer-initiating cells, plasticity, tumor microenvironment