Background

The study purpose was to characterize the mycobiome and its associations with the expression of pathogenic genes in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).

Methods

Patients with primary ESCC were recruited from two central hospitals. We performed internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) ribosomal DNA sequencing analysis. We compared differential fungi and explored the ecology of fungi and the interaction of bacteria and fungi.

Results

The mycobiota diversity was significantly different between tumors and tumor-adjacent samples. We further analysed the differences between the two groups, at the species level, confirming that Rhodotorula toruloides, Malassezia dermatis, Hanseniaspora lachancei, and Spegazzinia tessarthra were excessively colonized in the tumor samples, whereas Preussia persica, Fusarium solani, Nigrospora oryzae, Acremonium furcatum, Golovinomyces artemisiae, and Tausonia pullulans were significantly more abundant in tumor-adjacent samples. The fungal co-occurrence network in tumor-adjacent samples was larger and denser than that in tumors. Similarly, the more complex bacterial–fungal interactions in tumor-adjacent samples were also detected. The expression of mechanistic target of rapamycin kinase was positively correlated with the abundance of N. oryzae and T. pullulans in tumor-adjacent samples. In tumors, the expression of MET proto-oncogene, receptor tyrosine kinase (MET) had a negative correlation and a positive correlation with the abundance of R. toruloides and S. tessarthra, respectively.

Conclusion

This study revealed the landscape of the esophageal mycobiome characterized by an altered fungal composition and bacterial and fungal ecology in ESCC.

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