Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) carcinogenesis involves heterogeneous tumor cells, and the tumor microenvironment (TME) is highly complex with many different cell types. Cancer cell–TME interactions are crucial in OSCC progression. Candida albicans (C. albicans)—frequently pre-sent in the oral potentially malignant disorder (OPMD) lesions and OSCC tissues—promotes malignant transformation. The aim of the study is to verify the mechanisms underlying OSCC carcinogenesis with C. albicans infection and identify the biomarker for the early detection of OSCC and as the treatment target. The single-cell RNA sequencing analysis (scRNA-seq) was performed to explore the cell subtypes in normal oral mucosa, OPMD, and OSCC tissues. The cell composition changes and oncogenic mechanisms underlying OSCC carcinogenesis with C. albicans infection were investigated. Gene Set Variation Analysis (GSVA) was used to survey the mechanisms underlying OSCC carcinogenesis with and without C. albicans infection. The results revealed specific cell clusters contributing to OSCC carcinogenesis with and without C. albicans infection. The major mechanisms involved in OSCC carcinogenesis without C. albicans infection are the IL2/STAT5, TNFα/NFκB, and TGFβ signaling pathways, whereas those involved in OSCC carcinogenesis with C. albicans infection are the KRAS signaling pathway and E2F target down-stream genes. Finally, stratifin (SFN) was validated to be a specific biomarker of OSCC with C. albicans infection. Thus, the detailed mechanism underlying OSCC carcinogenesis with C. albicans infection was determined and identified the treatment biomarker with potential precision medicine applications.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Computer Science Applications
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry