Single-cell sequencing reveals novel cellular heterogeneity in uterine leiomyomas

Jyoti Goad*, Joshua Rudolph, Mehrdad Zandigohar, Matthew Tae, Yang Dai, Jian Jun Wei, Serdar E. Bulun, Debabrata Chakravarti, Aleksandar Rajkovic*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


STUDY QUESTION: What are the cellular composition and single-cell transcriptomic differences between myometrium and leiomyomas as defined by single-cell RNA sequencing? SUMMARY ANSWER: We discovered cellular heterogeneity in smooth muscle cells (SMCs), fibroblast and endothelial cell populations in both myometrium and leiomyoma tissues. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Previous studies have shown the presence of SMCs, fibroblasts, endothelial cells and immune cells in myometrium and leiomyomas. However, there is no information on the cellular heterogeneity in these tissues and the transcriptomic differences at the single-cell level between these tissues. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: We collected five leiomyoma and five myometrium samples from a total of eight patients undergoing hysterectomy. We then performed single-cell RNA sequencing to generate a cell atlas for both tissues. We utilized our single-cell sequencing data to define cell types, compare cell types by tissue type (leiomyoma versus myometrium) and determine the transcriptional changes at a single-cell resolution between leiomyomas and myometrium. Additionally, we performed MED12-variant analysis at the single-cell level to determine the genotype heterogeneity within leiomyomas. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: We collected five MED12-variant positive leiomyomas and five myometrium samples from a total of eight patients. We then performed single-cell RNA sequencing on freshly isolated single-cell preparations. Histopathological assessment confirmed the identity of the samples. Sanger sequencing was performed to confirm the presence of the MED12 variant in leiomyomas. MAIN RESULTS AND ROLE OF CHANCE: Our data revealed previously unknown heterogeneity in the SMC, fibroblast cell and endothelial cell populations of myometrium and leiomyomas. We discovered the presence of two different lymphatic endothelial cell populations specific to uterine leiomyomas. We showed that both myometrium and MED12-variant leiomyomas are relatively similar in cellular composition but differ in cellular transcriptomic profiles. We found that fibroblasts influence the leiomyoma microenvironment through their interactions with endothelial cells, immune cells and SMCs. Variant analysis at the single-cell level revealed the presence of both MED12 variants as well as the wild-type MED12 allele in SMCs of leiomyomatous tissue. These results indicate genotype heterogeneity of cellular composition within leiomyomas. LARGE SCALE DATA: The datasets are available in the NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) using GSE162122. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Our study focused on MED12-variant positive leiomyomas for single-cell RNA sequencing analyses. Leiomyomas carrying other genetic rearrangements may differ in their cellular composition and transcriptomic profiles. WIDER IMPLICATIONS FOR THE FINDINGS: Our study provides a cellular atlas for myometrium and MED12-variant positive leiomyomas as defined by single-cell RNA sequencing. Our analysis provides significant insight into the differences between myometrium and leiomyomas at the single-cell level and reveals hitherto unknown genetic heterogeneity in multiple cell types within human leiomyomas. Our results will be important for future studies into the origin and growth of human leiomyomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2334-2349
Number of pages16
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • MED12
  • cellular heterogeneity
  • myometrium
  • single-cell RNA sequencing
  • uterine leiomyomas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Reproductive Medicine


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