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Transcriptomic profiling disclosed the role of DNA methylation and histone modifications in tumor-infiltrating myeloid-derived suppressor cell subsets in colorectal cancer

journal contribution
submitted on 2024-07-01, 05:00 and posted on 2024-07-01, 05:00 authored by Varun Sasidharan Nair, Reem Saleh, Salman M. Toor, Rowaida Z. Taha, Ayman A. Ahmed, Mohamed A. Kurer, Khaled Murshed, Nehad M. Alajez, Mohamed Abu Nada, Eyad Elkord


Increased numbers of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are positively correlated with poor prognosis and reduced survivals of cancer patients. They play central roles in tumor immune evasion and tumor metastasis. However, limited data are available on phenotypic/transcriptomic characteristics of the different MDSCs subsets in cancer. These cells include immature (I-MDSCs), monocytic (M-MDSCs), and polymorphonuclear/granulocytic (PMN-MDSCs).


Phenotypic characterization of myeloid subsets from 27 colorectal cancer (CRC) patients was assessed by flow cytometric analyses. RNA-sequencing of sorted I-MDSCs, PMN-MDSCs, and antigen-presenting cells (APCs) was also performed.


We found that the levels of I-MDSCs and PMN-MDSCs were increased in tumor tissues (TT), compared with normal tissues (NT) in colorectal cancer. Our functional annotation analyses showed that genes associated with histone deacetylase (HDAC) activation- and DNA methylation-mediated transcriptional silencing were upregulated, and histone acetyl transferase (HAT)-related genes were downregulated in tumor-infiltrating I-MDSCs. Moreover, pathways implicated in cell trafficking and immune suppression, including Wnt, interleukin-6 (IL-6), and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, were upregulated in I-MDSCs. Notably, PMN-MDSCs showed downregulation in genes related to DNA methylation and HDAC binding. Using an ex vivo model, we found that inhibition of HDAC activation or neutralization of IL-6 in CRC tumor tissues downregulates the expression of genes associated with immunosuppression and myeloid cell chemotaxis, confirming the importance of HDAC activation and IL-6 signaling pathway in MDSC function and chemotaxis.


This study provides novel insights into the epigenetic regulations and other molecular pathways in different myeloid cell subsets within the CRC tumor microenvironment (TME), giving opportunities to potential targets for therapeutic benefits.

Other Information

Published in: Clinical Epigenetics
See article on publisher's website:


Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (VR04).



  • English


Springer Nature

Publication Year

  • 2020

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • Qatar Biomedical Research Institute - HBKU
  • Cancer Research Center - QBRI