Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), a compartment of the tumor microenvironment, were previously thought to be a uniform cell population that promotes cancer progression. However, recent studies have shown that CAFs are heterogeneous and that there are at least two types of CAFs, that is, cancer-promoting and -restraining CAFs. We previously identified Meflin as a candidate marker of cancer-restraining CAFs (rCAFs) in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The precise nature of rCAFs, however, has remained elusive owing to a lack of understanding of their comprehensive gene signatures. Here, we screened genes whose expression correlated with Meflin in single-cell transcriptomic analyses of human cancers. Among the identified genes, we identified matrix remodeling-associated protein 8 (MXRA8), which encodes a type I transmembrane protein with unknown molecular function. Analysis of MXRA8 expression in human PDAC samples showed that MXRA8 was differentially co-expressed with other CAF markers. Moreover, in patients with PDAC or syngeneic tumors developed in MXRA8-knockout mice, MXRA8 expression did not affect the roles of CAFs in cancer progression, and the biological importance of MXRA8+ CAFs is still unclear. Overall, we identified MXRA8 as a new CAF marker; further studies are needed to determine the relevance of this marker.
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