Constructing a cancer stem cell related prognostic model for predicting immune landscape and drug sensitivity in colorectal cancer
Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) ranks the second malignancy with high incidence and mortality worldwide. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) function critically in cancer progression and metastasis via the interplay with immune cells in tumor microenvironment. This study aimed to identify important CSC marker genes and parsed the role of these marker genes in CRC. Materials and methods: CRC samples’ single-cell RNA sequencing data and bulk transcriptome data were utilized. Seurat R package annotated CSCs and identified CSC marker genes. Consensus clustering subtyped CRC samples based on CSC marker genes. Immune microenvironment, pathway and oxidative stress analysis was performed using ESTIMATE, MCP-counter analysis and ssGSEA analysis. A prognostic model was established by Lasso and stepAIC. Sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs was determined by the biochemical half maximal inhibitory concentration with pRRophetic R package. Results: We identified a total of 29 CSC marker genes related to disease-specific survival (DSS). Two clusters (CSC1 and CSC2) were determined, and CSC2 showed shorter DSS, a larger proportion of late-stage samples, and higher oxidative stress response. Two clusters exhibited differential activation of biological pathways associated with immune response and oncogenic signaling. Drug sensitivity analysis showed that 44 chemotherapy drugs were more sensitive to CSC2 that those in CSC1. We constructed a seven-gene prognostic model (DRD4, DPP7, UCN, INHBA, SFTA2, SYNPO2, and NXPH4) that was effectively to distinguish high-risk and low-risk patients. 14 chemotherapy drugs were more sensitive to high-risk group and 13 chemotherapy drugs were more sensitive to low-risk group. Combination of higher oxidative stress and risk score indicated dismal prognosis. Conclusion: The CSC marker genes we identified may help to further decipher the role of CSCs in CRC development and progression. The seven-gene prognostic model could serve as an indicator for predicting the response to immunotherapy and chemotherapy as well as prognosis of CRC patients.