Image1_Single-Cell RNA Sequencing Analysis of the Heterogeneity in Gene Regulatory Networks in Colorectal Cancer.TIF
Colorectal cancer (CRC) manifests as gastrointestinal tumors with high intratumoral heterogeneity. Recent studies have demonstrated that CRC may consist of tumor cells with different consensus molecular subtypes (CMS). The advancements in single-cell RNA sequencing have facilitated the development of gene regulatory networks to decode key regulators for specific cell types. Herein, we comprehensively analyzed the CMS of CRC patients by using single-cell RNA-sequencing data. CMS for all malignant cells were assigned using CMScaller. Gene set variation analysis showed pathway activity differences consistent with those reported in previous studies. Cell–cell communication analysis confirmed that CMS1 was more closely related to immune cells, and that monocytes and macrophages play dominant roles in the CRC tumor microenvironment. On the basis of the constructed gene regulation networks (GRNs) for each subtype, we identified that the critical transcription factor ERG is universally activated and upregulated in all CMS in comparison with normal cells, and that it performed diverse roles by regulating the expression of different downstream genes. In summary, molecular subtyping of single-cell RNA-sequencing data for colorectal cancer could elucidate the heterogeneity in gene regulatory networks and identify critical regulators of CRC.