Single-cell RNA sequencing reveals markers of disease progression in primary cutaneous T-cell lymphoma

Katharina Rindler, Constanze Jonak, Natalia Alkon, Felix M. Thaler, Harald Kurz, Lisa E. Shaw, Georg Stingl, Wolfgang Weninger, Florian Halbritter, Wolfgang M. Bauer, Matthias Farlik, Patrick M. Brunner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: In early-stage mycosis fungoides (MF), the most common primary cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, limited skin involvement with patches and plaques is associated with a favorable prognosis. Nevertheless, approximately 20–30% of cases progress to tumors or erythroderma, resulting in poor outcome. At present, factors contributing to this switch from indolent to aggressive disease are only insufficiently understood. Methods: In patients with advanced-stage MF, we compared patches with longstanding history to newly developed plaques and tumors by using single-cell RNA sequencing, and compared results with early-stage MF as well as nonlesional MF and healthy control skin. Results: Despite considerable inter-individual variability, lesion progression was uniformly associated with downregulation of the tissue residency markers CXCR4 and CD69, the heat shock protein HSPA1A, the tumor suppressors and immunoregulatory mediators ZFP36 and TXNIP, and the interleukin 7 receptor (IL7R) within the malignant clone, but not in benign T cells. This phenomenon was not only found in conventional TCR-αβ MF, but also in a case of TCR-γδ MF, suggesting a common mechanism across MF subtypes. Conversely, malignant cells in clinically unaffected skin from MF patients showed upregulation of these markers. Conclusions: Our data reveal a specific panel of biomarkers that might be used for monitoring MF disease progression. Altered expression of these genes may underlie the switch in clinical phenotype observed in advanced-stage MF.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124
JournalMolecular Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Advanced-stage MF
  • Cutaneous lymphoma
  • Early-stage MF
  • Gamma-delta lymphoma
  • Mycosis fungoides
  • Nonlesional MF
  • Single-cell RNA sequencing


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