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Chromosomal instability (CIN) is a driver of cancer metastasis1-4, yet the extent to which this effect depends on the immune system remains unknown. Using ContactTracing-a newly developed, validated and benchmarked tool to infer the nature and conditional dependence of cell-cell interactions from single-cell transcriptomic data-we show that CIN-induced chronic activation of the cGAS-STING pathway promotes downstream signal re-wiring in cancer cells, leading to a pro-metastatic tumour microenvironment. This re-wiring is manifested by type I interferon tachyphylaxis selectively downstream of STING and a corresponding increase in cancer cell-derived endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response. Reversal of CIN, depletion of cancer cell STING or inhibition of ER stress response signalling abrogates CIN-dependent effects on the tumour microenvironment and suppresses metastasis in immune competent, but not severely immune compromised, settings. Treatment with STING inhibitors reduces CIN-driven metastasis in melanoma, breast and colorectal cancers in a manner dependent on tumour cell-intrinsic STING. Finally, we show that CIN and pervasive cGAS activation in micronuclei are associated with ER stress signalling, immune suppression and metastasis in human triple-negative breast cancer, highlighting a viable strategy to identify and therapeutically intervene in tumours spurred by CIN-induced inflammation.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1080 - 1088


Humans, Benchmarking, Cell Communication, Chromosomal Instability, Colorectal Neoplasms, Disease Progression, Melanoma, Tumor Microenvironment, Interferon Type I, Neoplasm Metastasis, Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress, Signal Transduction, Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms, Neoplasms