In the absence of targetable hormonal axes, chemoresistance for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) often compromises patient outcomes. To investigate the underlying tumor dynamics, we performed trajectory analysis on the single-nuclei RNA-seq (snRNA-seq) of chemoresistant tumor clones during neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC). It revealed a common tumor trajectory across multiple patients with HER2-like expansions during NAC. Genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 knock-out on mammary epithelial cells revealed chemosensitivity-promoting knock-outs were up-regulated along the tumor trajectory. Furthermore, we derived a consensus gene signature of TNBC chemoresistance by comparing the trajectory transcriptome with chemoresistant transcriptomes from TNBC cell lines and poor prognosis patient samples to predict FDA-approved drugs, including afatinib (pan-HER inhibitor), targeting the consensus signature. We validated the synergistic efficacy of afatinib and paclitaxel in chemoresistant TNBC cells and confirmed pharmacological suppression of the consensus signature. The study provides a dynamic model of chemoresistant tumor transcriptome, and computational framework for pharmacological intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106064
Issue number2
StatePublished - 17 Feb 2023


  • Cellular therapy
  • Computational bioinformatics
  • Oncology


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