Comparative single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) reveals liver metastasis-specific targets in a patient with small intestinal neuroendocrine cancer

Manisha Rao, Ki Oh, Richard Moffitt, Patricia Thompson, Jinyu Li, Jingxuan Liu, Aaron Sasson, George Georgakis, Joseph Kim, Minsig Choi, Scott Powers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Genomic analysis of a patient's tumor is the cornerstone of precision oncology, but it does not address whether metastases should be treated differently. Here we tested whether comparative single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) of a primary small intestinal neuroendocrine tumor to a matched liver metastasis could guide the treatment of a patient's metastatic disease. Following surgery, the patient was put on maintenance treatment with a somatostatin analog. However, the scRNA-seq analysis revealed that the neuroendocrine epithelial cells in the liver metastasis were less differentiated and expressed relatively little SSTR2, the predominant somatostatin receptor. There were also differences in the tumor microenvironments. RNA expression of vascular endothelial growth factors was higher in the primary tumor cells, reflected by an increased number of endothelial cells. Interestingly, vascular expression of the major VEGF receptors was considerably higher in the liver metastasis, indicating that the metastatic vasculature may be primed for expansion and susceptible to treatment with angiogenesis inhibitors. The patient eventually progressed on Sandostatin, and although consideration was given to adding an angiogenesis inhibitor to her regimen, her disease progression involved non-liver metastases that had not been characterized. Although in this specific case comparative scRNA-seq did not alter treatment, its potential to help guide therapy of metastatic disease was clearly demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4978
JournalCold Spring Harbor molecular case studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Rao et al. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits reuse and redistribution, except for commercial purposes, provided that the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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