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Widespread hypertranscription in aggressive human cancers

Cancers are often defined by the dysregulation of specific transcriptional programs; however, the importance of global transcriptional changes is less understood. Hypertranscription is the genome-wide increase in RNA output. Hypertranscription’s prevalence, underlying drivers and prognostic significance are undefined in primary human cancer. This is due in part to limitations of expression profiling methods, which assume equal RNA output between samples. Here, we developed a computational method to directly measure hypertranscription in 7,494 human tumors, spanning 31 cancer types. Hypertranscription is ubiquitous across cancer, especially in aggressive disease. It defines patient subgroups with worse survival, even within well-established subtypes. Our data suggest that loss of transcriptional suppression underpins the hypertranscriptional phenotype. Single-cell analysis reveals hypertranscriptional clones, which dominate transcript production regardless of their size. Finally, patients with hypertranscribed mutations have improved response to immune checkpoint therapy. Our results provide fundamental insights into gene dysregulation across human cancers and may prove useful in identifying patients that would benefit from novel therapies.

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Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001009285 27
Publications Citations
Widespread hypertranscription in aggressive human cancers.
Sci Adv 8: 2022 eabn0238