Single-Cell Transcriptomic Analysis Reveals BCMA CAR-T Cell Dynamics in a Patient with Refractory Primary Plasma Cell Leukemia

Xue Li, Xin Guo, Yuqing Zhu, Guoqing Wei, Yanlei Zhang, Xia Li, Huijun Xu, Jiazhen Cui, Wenjun Wu, Jingsong He, Matthew E. Ritchie, Taylor M. Weiskittel, Hu Li, Hua Yu, Lijuan Ding, Mi Shao, Qian Luo, Xiaoxiao Xu, Xinyi Teng, Alex H. ChangJin Zhang, He Huang, Yongxian Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy has revolutionized the clinical treatment of hematological malignancies due to the prominent anti-tumor effects. B cell maturation antigen (BCMA) CAR-T cells have demonstrated promising effects in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma. However, the dynamics of CAR-T cell proliferation and cytotoxicity in clinical patients remains unexplored. Here, we longitudinally profiled the transcriptomes of 55,488 T cells including CAR-T products, CAR-T cells, and endogenous T cells at the peak and remission phases in a plasma cell leukemia (PCL) patient treated with BCMA CAR-T cells by single-cell transcriptomic analysis. Our results showed distinct CAR-T and endogenous T cell subsets indicating stage-specific expression in proliferation, cytotoxicity, and intercellular signaling pathways. Furthermore, we found that CAR-T cells at peak phase gradually convert to a highly cytotoxic state from a highly proliferative state along a development trajectory. Moreover, re-analysis of a single cell study from CD8+ CD19 CAR-T confirmed our findings. These commonalities suggest conserved mechanisms for CAR-T treatment across hematological malignancies. Taken together, our current study provides insight into CAR-T cell dynamics during CAR-T therapy and proves that both BCMA CAR-T and CD19 CAR-T have similar transcriptional characteristics, especially at the CAR-T peak phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-657
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 3 2021


  • chimeric antigen receptor T cell
  • plasma cell leukemia
  • single-cell RNA sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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