Using RNAseq to investigate why oral ‘precancer’ becomes oral cancer

Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is a prevalent cancer with poor prognosis. Most OSCC progresses via a non-malignant, precancerous stage called dysplasia. Effective treatment of dysplasia prior to potential malignant transformation is an unmet clinical need. To further understand the development and progression of oral dysplasia at the cellular level, we have characterised the transcriptomes of 19 matched HPV negative patient trios (normal oral mucosa, dysplasia and associated OSCC from the same patients) using high coverage strand-specific RNA sequencing (RNAseq) that captures information about both coding and non-coding RNA (> 200bp). We performed differential gene expression, principal component and correlated gene network analysis using these data. In this talk I will discuss one of our findings in more detail: differences in the immune cell signatures present at different disease stages. I will confirm how we made this discovery and what it could mean for future research in this area.