by Gordon M. Cann, Zulfiqar G. Gulzar, Samantha Cooper, Robin Li, Shujun Luo, Mai Tat, Sarah Stuart, Gary Schroth, Sandhya Srinivas, Mostafa Ronaghi, James D. Brooks, AmirAli H. Talasaz
Circulating tumor cells (CTC) mediate metastatic spread of many solid tumors and enumeration of CTCs is currently used as a prognostic indicator of survival in metastatic prostate cancer patients. Some evidence suggests that it is possible to derive additional information about tumors from expression analysis of CTCs, but the technical difficulty of isolating and analyzing individual CTCs has limited progress in this area. To assess the ability of a new generation of MagSweeper to isolate intact CTCs for downstream analysis, we performed mRNA-Seq on single CTCs isolated from the blood of patients with metastatic prostate cancer and on single prostate cancer cell line LNCaP cells spiked into the blood of healthy donors. We found that the MagSweeper effectively isolated CTCs with a capture efficiency that matched the CellSearch platform. However, unlike CellSearch, the MagSweeper facilitates isolation of individual live CTCs without contaminating leukocytes. Importantly, mRNA-Seq analysis showed that the MagSweeper isolation process did not have a discernible impact on the transcriptional profile of single LNCaPs isolated from spiked human blood, suggesting that any perturbations caused by the MagSweeper process on the transcriptional signature of isolated cells are modest. Although the RNA from patient CTCs showed signs of significant degradation, consistent with reports of short half-lives and apoptosis amongst CTCs, transcriptional signatures of prostate tissue and of cancer were readily detectable with single CTC mRNA-Seq. These results demonstrate that the MagSweeper provides access to intact CTCs and that these CTCs can potentially supply clinically relevant information.