The role of bone marrow-derived cells in the origin of liver cancer revealed by single-cell sequencing

Lu Chen, Xianfu Yi, Piao Guo, et al.


Objective: Epithelial cancers often originate from progenitor cells, while the origin of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is still controversial. HCC, one of the deadliest cancers, is closely linked with liver injuries and chronic inflammation, which trigger massive infiltration of bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) during liver repair.
Methods: To address the possible roles of BMDCs in HCC origination, we established a diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-induced HCC model in bone marrow transplanted mice. Immunohistochemistry and frozen tissue immunofluorescence were used to verify DENinduced HCC in the pathology of the disease. The cellular origin of DEN-induced HCC was further studied by single cell sequencing, single-cell nested PCR, and immunofluorescence-fluorescence in situ hybridization.
Results: Studies by using single cell sequencing and biochemical analysis revealed that HCC cells in these mice were coming from donor mice BMDCs, and not from recipient mice. Furthermore, the copy numbers of mouse orthologs of several HCC-related genes previously reported in human HCC were also altered in our mouse model. DEN-induced HCCs exhibited a similar histological phenotype and genomic profile as human HCCs.
Conclusions: These results suggested that BMDCs are an important origin of HCC, which provide important clues to HCC
prevention, detection, and treatments.

Cite this article as: Chen L, Yi X, Guo P, Guo H, Chen Z, Hou C, et al. The role of bone marrow-derived cells in the origin of liver cancer revealed by singlecell sequencing. Cancer Biol Med. 2020; 17: 142-153. doi: 10.20892/j.issn.2095-3941.2019.0369


Hepatocellular carcinoma; bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs); origination; genome sequencing; copy number alteration

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