American Association for Cancer Research
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Supplemental Figure S1 from Exogenous Sequences in Tumors and Immune Cells (Exotic): A Tool for Estimating the Microbe Abundances in Tumor RNA-seq Data

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posted on 2023-11-21, 14:20 authored by Rebecca Hoyd, Caroline E. Wheeler, YunZhou Liu, Malvenderjit S. Jagjit Singh, Mitchell Muniak, Ning Jin, Nicholas C. Denko, David P. Carbone, Xiaokui Mo, Daniel J. Spakowicz

Example survival analysis using multiple stratification thresholds. The p-values for the separations between survival curves at each quantile are shown, colored by the direction of association (hazard ratio greater or less than 1).


American Lung Association (ALA)

HHS | National Institutes of Health (NIH)

HHS | NIH | National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)

HHS | NIH | National Cancer Institute (NCI)



The microbiome affects cancer, from carcinogenesis to response to treatments. New evidence suggests that microbes are also present in many tumors, though the scope of how they affect tumor biology and clinical outcomes is in its early stages. A broad survey of tumor microbiome samples across several independent datasets is needed to identify robust correlations for follow-up testing. We created a tool called {exotic} for “exogenous sequences in tumors and immune cells” to carefully identify the tumor microbiome within RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) datasets. We applied it to samples collected through the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN) and The Cancer Genome Atlas. We showed how the processing removes contaminants and batch effects to yield microbe abundances consistent with non–high-throughput sequencing–based approaches and DNA-amplicon–based measurements of a subset of the same tumors. We sought to establish clinical relevance by correlating the microbe abundances with various clinical and tumor measurements, such as age and tumor hypoxia. This process leveraged the two datasets and raised up only the concordant (significant and in the same direction) associations. We observed associations with survival and clinical variables that are cancer specific and relatively few associations with immune composition. Finally, we explored potential mechanisms by which microbes and tumors may interact using a network-based approach. Alistipes, a common gut commensal, showed the highest network degree centrality and was associated with genes related to metabolism and inflammation. The {exotic} tool can support the discovery of microbes in tumors in a way that leverages the many existing and growing RNA-seq datasets. The intrinsic tumor microbiome holds great potential for its ability to predict various aspects of cancer biology and as a target for rational manipulation. Here, we describe a tool to quantify microbes from within tumor RNA-seq and apply it to two independent datasets. We show new associations with clinical variables that justify biomarker uses and more experimentation into the mechanisms by which tumor microbiomes affect cancer outcomes.