Pharmacogenomic profiling of intra-tumor heterogeneity using a large organoid biobank of liver cancer


Inter- and intra-tumor heterogeneity is a major hurdle in primary liver cancer (PLC) precision therapy. Here, we establish a PLC biobank, consisting of 399 tumor organoids derived from 144 patients, which recapitulates histopathology and genomic landscape of parental tumors, and is reliable for drug sensitivity screening, as evidenced by both in vivo models and patient response. Integrative analysis dissects PLC heterogeneity, regarding genomic/transcriptomic characteristics and sensitivity to seven clinically relevant drugs, as well as clinical associations. Pharmacogenomic analysis identifies and validates multi-gene expression signatures predicting drug response for better patient stratification. Furthermore, we reveal c-Jun as a major mediator of lenvatinib resistance through JNK and beta-catenin signaling. A compound (PKUF-01) comprising moieties of lenvatinib and veratramine (c-Jun inhibitor) is synthesized and screened, exhibiting a marked synergistic effect. Together, our study characterizes the landscape of PLC heterogeneity, develops predictive biomarker panels, and identifies a lenvatinib-resistant mechanism for combination therapy.

Cancer Cell