5mC regulator-mediated molecular subtypes depict the hallmarks of the tumor microenvironment and guide precision medicine in bladder cancer

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BMC Med. 2021 Nov 26;19(1):289. doi: 10.1186/s12916-021-02163-6.


BACKGROUND: Depicting the heterogeneity and functional characteristics of the tumor microenvironment (TME) is necessary to achieve precision medicine for bladder cancer (BLCA). Although classical molecular subtypes effectively reflect TME heterogeneity and characteristics, their clinical application is limited by several issues.

METHODS: In this study, we integrated the Xiangya cohort and multiple external BLCA cohorts to develop a novel 5-methylcytosine (5mC) regulator-mediated molecular subtype system and a corresponding quantitative indicator, the 5mC score. Unsupervised clustering was performed to identify novel 5mC regulator-mediated molecular subtypes. The principal component analysis was applied to calculate the 5mC score. Then, we correlated the 5mC clusters (5mC score) with classical molecular subtypes, immunophenotypes, clinical outcomes, and therapeutic opportunities in BLCA. Finally, we performed pancancer analyses on the 5mC score.

RESULTS: Two 5mC clusters, including 5mC cluster 1 and cluster 2, were identified. These novel 5mC clusters (5mC score) could accurately predict classical molecular subtypes, immunophenotypes, prognosis, and therapeutic opportunities of BLCA. 5mC cluster 1 (high 5mC score) indicated a luminal subtype and noninflamed phenotype, characterized by lower anticancer immunity but better prognosis. Moreover, 5mC cluster 1 (high 5mC score) predicted low sensitivity to cancer immunotherapy, neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, but high sensitivity to antiangiogenic therapy and targeted therapies, such as blocking the β-catenin, FGFR3, and PPAR-γ pathways.

CONCLUSIONS: The novel 5mC regulator-based subtype system reflects many aspects of BLCA biology and provides new insights into precision medicine in BLCA. Furthermore, the 5mC score may be a generalizable predictor of immunotherapy response and prognosis in pancancers.

PMID:34836536 | DOI:10.1186/s12916-021-02163-6