Clonal evolution of a tumor ecosystem depends on different selection pressures that are principally immune and treatment mediated. We integrate RNA-seq, DNA sequencing, TCR-seq and SNP array data across multiple regions of liver cancer specimens to map spatio-temporal interactions between cancer and immune cells. We investigate how these interactions reflect intra-tumor heterogeneity (ITH) by correlating regional neo-epitope and viral antigen burden with the regional adaptive immune response. Regional expression of passenger mutations dominantly recruits adaptive responses as opposed to hepatitis B virus and cancer-testis antigens. We detect different clonal expansion of the adaptive immune system in distant regions of the same tumor. An ITH-based gene signature improves single-biopsy patient survival predictions and an expression survey of 38,553 single cells across 7 regions of 2 patients further reveals heterogeneity in liver cancer. These data quantify transcriptomic ITH and how the different components of the HCC ecosystem interact during cancer evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number291
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020


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