Single-cell genomic analysis of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Andres Stucky _, Parish P. Sedghizadeh, Susan Mahabady, Xuelian Chen, Cheng Zhang, Gang Zhang, Xi Zhang and Jiang F. Zhong

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:73208-73218. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18021

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Andres Stucky1, Parish P. Sedghizadeh1, Susan Mahabady1, Xuelian Chen1, Cheng Zhang1,2, Gang Zhang1,3, Xi Zhang1,2 and Jiang F. Zhong1

1Division of Periodontology, Diagnostic Sciences and Dental Hygiene, and Division of Biomedical Sciences, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

2Department of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, Xinqiao Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, P. R. China

3Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Xinqiao Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, P. R. China

Correspondence to:

Andres Stucky, email: [email protected]

Parish P. Sedghizadeh, email: [email protected]

Xi Zhang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: head and neck cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, HNSCC, single-cell genomics, circulating tumor cells

Received: April 13, 2017     Accepted: May 10, 2017     Published: May 19, 2017


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) incidence or rates have increased dramatically recently with little improvement in patient outcomes. There is an unmet need in HNSCC to develop reliable molecular markers capable of evaluating patient risks and advising treatments. This review focuses on recent developments in single-cell molecular analysis of cancer, and its applications for HNSCC diagnosis and treatments. For proof of concept, we examined gene expression levels of 62 patients with HNSCC, and correlate the gene expression profiles to single-cell gene expression profiles obtained from a pilot single-cell study of CCR5-positive breast carcinoma cells. The single-cell molecular analyses complemented the lysate data and reveals heterogeneity of oncogenesis pathways with the cancer cell population. Our single-cell molecular analysis indicated that molecular heterogeneity exists in HNSCC and should be addressed in treatment strategy of HNSCC. Single-cell molecular technology can have significant impact on diagnosis, therapeutic decision making, and prognosis of HNSCC.

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