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Solid tumours comprise mixtures of tumour cells (TCs) and tumour-adjacent cells (TACs), and the intricate interconnections between these diverse populations shape the tumour's microenvironment. Despite this complexity, clinical genomic profiling is typically performed from bulk samples, without distinguishing TCs from TACs. To better understand TC-TAC interactions, we computationally distinguish their transcriptomes in 1780 primary breast tumours. We show that TC and TAC mRNA abundances are divergently associated with clinical phenotypes, including tumour subtypes and patient survival. These differences reflect distinct responses of TCs and TACs to specific somatic driver mutations, particularly TP53. These data further elucidate how the molecular interplay between breast tumours and their microenvironment drives aggressive tumour phenotypes.

Original publication




Journal article


Nature communications

Publication Date





Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, ON, M5G 0A3, Canada.