During epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) epithelial cancer cells trans-differentiate into highly-motile, invasive, mesenchymal-like cells giving rise to disseminating tumor cells. Only few of these disseminated cells successfully metastasize. Immune cells and inflammation in the tumor microenvironment was shown to drive EMT, but few studies investigated the consequences of EMT on tumor immunosurveillance. In addition to initiating metastasis, we demonstrate that EMT confers increased susceptibility to NK cells and contributes, in part, to the inefficiency of the metastatic process. Depletion of NK cells allowed spontaneous metastasis without effecting primary tumor growth. EMT-induced modulation of E-cadherin and cell adhesion molecule 1 (CADM1) mediated increased susceptibility to NK cytotoxicity. Higher CADM1 expression correlates with improved patient survival in two lung and one breast adenocarcinoma patient cohorts and decreased metastasis. Our observation reveal a novel NK-mediated, metastasis-specific, immunosurveillance in lung cancer and presents a window of opportunity for the prevention of metastasis by boosting NK cell activity.
Peter J. Chockley, Jun Chen, Guoan Chen, David G. Beer, Theodore J. Standiford, Venkateshwar G. Keshamouni
Combination checkpoint blockade (CCB) targeting inhibitory CTLA4 and PD1 receptors holds promise for cancer therapy. Immune-related adverse events (IRAEs) remain a major obstacle for the optimal application of CCB in cancer. Here, we analyzed B cell changes in patients with melanoma following treatment with either anti-CTLA4 or anti-PD1, or in combination. CCB therapy led to changes in circulating B cells that were detectable after the first cycle of therapy and characterized by a decline in circulating B cells and an increase in CD21lo B cells and plasmablasts. PD1 expression was higher in the CD21lo B cells, and B cell receptor sequencing of these cells demonstrated greater clonality and a higher frequency of clones compared with CD21hi cells. CCB induced proliferation in the CD21lo compartment, and single-cell RNA sequencing identified B cell activation in cells with genomic profiles of CD21lo B cells in vivo. Increased clonality of circulating B cells following CCB occurred in some patients. Treatment-induced changes in B cells preceded and correlated with both the frequency and timing of IRAEs. Patients with early B cell changes experienced higher rates of grade 3 or higher IRAEs 6 months after CCB. Thus, early changes in B cells following CCB may identify patients who are at increased risk of IRAEs, and preemptive strategies targeting B cells may reduce toxicities in these patients.
Rituparna Das, Noffar Bar, Michelle Ferreira, Aaron M. Newman, Lin Zhang, Jithendra Kini Bailur, Antonella Bacchiocchi, Harriet Kluger, Wei Wei, Ruth Halaban, Mario Sznol, Madhav V. Dhodapkar, Kavita M. Dhodapkar
The molecular mechanism by which cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) confer chemoresistance in ovarian cancer is poorly understood. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the roles of CAFs in modulating tumor vasculature, chemoresistance, and disease progression. Here, we found that CAFs upregulated the lipoma-preferred partner (LPP) gene in microvascular endothelial cells (MECs) and that LPP expression levels in intratumoral MECs correlated with survival and chemoresistance in patients with ovarian cancer. Mechanistically, LPP increased focal adhesion and stress fiber formation to promote endothelial cell motility and permeability. siRNA-mediated LPP silencing in ovarian tumor–bearing mice improved paclitaxel delivery to cancer cells by decreasing intratumoral microvessel leakiness. Further studies showed that CAFs regulate endothelial LPP via a calcium-dependent signaling pathway involving microfibrillar-associated protein 5 (MFAP5), focal adhesion kinase (FAK), ERK, and LPP. Thus, our findings suggest that targeting endothelial LPP enhances the efficacy of chemotherapy in ovarian cancer. Our data highlight the importance of CAF–endothelial cell crosstalk signaling in cancer chemoresistance and demonstrate the improved efficacy of using LPP-targeting siRNA in combination with cytotoxic drugs.
Cecilia S. Leung, Tsz-Lun Yeung, Kay-Pong Yip, Kwong-Kwok Wong, Samuel Y. Ho, Lingegowda S. Mangala, Anil K. Sood, Gabriel Lopez-Berestein, Jianting Sheng, Stephen T.C. Wong, Michael J. Birrer, Samuel C. Mok
Oncogenic addiction to the Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) is a hallmark of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that harbors the FLT3–internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) mutation. While FLT3 inhibitors like sorafenib show initial therapeutic efficacy, resistance rapidly develops through mechanisms that are incompletely understood. Here, we used RNA-Seq–based analysis of patient leukemic cells and found that upregulation of the Tec family kinase BMX occurs during sorafenib resistance. This upregulation was recapitulated in an in vivo murine FLT3-ITD–positive (FLT3-ITD+) model of sorafenib resistance. Mechanistically, the antiangiogenic effects of sorafenib led to increased bone marrow hypoxia, which contributed to HIF-dependent BMX upregulation. In in vitro experiments, hypoxia-dependent BMX upregulation was observed in both AML and non-AML cell lines. Functional studies in human FLT3-ITD+ cell lines showed that BMX is part of a compensatory signaling mechanism that promotes AML cell survival during FLT3 inhibition. Taken together, our results demonstrate that hypoxia-dependent upregulation of BMX contributes to therapeutic resistance through a compensatory prosurvival signaling mechanism. These results also reveal the role of off-target drug effects on tumor microenvironment and development of acquired drug resistance. We propose that the bone marrow niche can be altered by anticancer therapeutics, resulting in drug resistance through cell-nonautonomous microenvironment-dependent effects.
Jolieke G. van Oosterwijk, Daelynn R. Buelow, Christina D. Drenberg, Aksana Vasilyeva, Lie Li, Lei Shi, Yong-Dong Wang, David Finkelstein, Sheila A. Shurtleff, Laura J. Janke, Stanley Pounds, Jeffrey E. Rubnitz, Hiroto Inaba, Navjotsingh Pabla, Sharyn D. Baker
Breast cancer cells with stem cell properties are key contributors to metastatic disease, and there remains a need to better understand and target these cells in human cancers. Here, we identified rare stem-like cells in patients’ tumors characterized by low levels of the proapoptotic molecule p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA) and showed that these cells play a critical role in tumor progression that is independent of clinical subtype. A signaling axis consisting of the integrin αvβ3, Src kinase, and the transcription factor Slug suppresses PUMA in these cells, promoting tumor stemness. We showed that genetic or pharmacological disruption of αvβ3/Src signaling drives PUMA expression, specifically depleting these stem-like tumor cells; increases their sensitivity to apoptosis; and reduces pulmonary metastasis, with no effect on primary tumor growth. Taken together, these findings point to PUMA as a key vulnerability of stem-like cells and suggest that pharmacological upregulation of PUMA via Src inhibition may represent a strategy to selectively target these cells in a wide spectrum of aggressive breast cancers.
Qi Sun, Jacqueline Lesperance, Hiromi Wettersten, Elaine Luterstein, Yoko S. DeRose, Alana Welm, David A. Cheresh, Jay S. Desgrosellier
As new generations of targeted therapies emerge and tumor genome sequencing discovers increasingly comprehensive mutation repertoires, the functional relationships of mutations to tumor phenotypes remain largely unknown. Here, we measured ex vivo sensitivity of 246 blood cancers to 63 drugs alongside genome, transcriptome, and DNA methylome analysis to understand determinants of drug response. We assembled a primary blood cancer cell encyclopedia data set that revealed disease-specific sensitivities for each cancer. Within chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), responses to 62% of drugs were associated with 2 or more mutations, and linked the B cell receptor (BCR) pathway to trisomy 12, an important driver of CLL. Based on drug responses, the disease could be organized into phenotypic subgroups characterized by exploitable dependencies on BCR, mTOR, or MEK signaling and associated with mutations, gene expression, and DNA methylation. Fourteen percent of CLLs were driven by mTOR signaling in a non–BCR-dependent manner. Multivariate modeling revealed immunoglobulin heavy chain variable gene (IGHV) mutation status and trisomy 12 as the most important modulators of response to kinase inhibitors in CLL. Ex vivo drug responses were associated with outcome. This study overcomes the perception that most mutations do not influence drug response of cancer, and points to an updated approach to understanding tumor biology, with implications for biomarker discovery and cancer care.
Sascha Dietrich, Małgorzata Oleś, Junyan Lu, Leopold Sellner, Simon Anders, Britta Velten, Bian Wu, Jennifer Hüllein, Michelle da Silva Liberio, Tatjana Walther, Lena Wagner, Sophie Rabe, Sonja Ghidelli-Disse, Marcus Bantscheff, Andrzej K. Oleś, Mikołaj Słabicki, Andreas Mock, Christopher C. Oakes, Shihui Wang, Sina Oppermann, Marina Lukas, Vladislav Kim, Martin Sill, Axel Benner, Anna Jauch, Lesley Ann Sutton, Emma Young, Richard Rosenquist, Xiyang Liu, Alexander Jethwa, Kwang Seok Lee, Joe Lewis, Kerstin Putzker, Christoph Lutz, Davide Rossi, Andriy Mokhir, Thomas Oellerich, Katja Zirlik, Marco Herling, Florence Nguyen-Khac, Christoph Plass, Emma Andersson, Satu Mustjoki, Christof von Kalle, Anthony D. Ho, Manfred Hensel, Jan Dürig, Ingo Ringshausen, Marc Zapatka, Wolfgang Huber, Thorsten Zenz
SHARPIN, an adaptor for the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex (LUBAC), plays important roles in NF-κB signaling and inflammation. Here, we have demonstrated a LUBAC-independent role for SHARPIN in regulating melanoma growth. We observed that SHARPIN interacted with PRMT5, a type II protein arginine methyltransferase, and increased its multiprotein complex and methyltransferase activity. Activated PRMT5 controlled the expression of the transcription factors SOX10 and MITF by SHARPIN-dependent arginine dimethylation and inhibition of the transcriptional corepressor SKI. Activation of PRMT5 by SHARPIN counteracted PRMT5 inhibition by methylthioadenosine, a substrate of methylthioadenosine phosphorylase, which is codeleted with cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (CDKN2A) in approximately 15% of human cancers. Collectively, we identified a LUBAC-independent role for SHARPIN in enhancing PRMT5 activity that contributes to melanomagenesis through the SKI/SOX10 regulatory axis.
Hironari Tamiya, Hyungsoo Kim, Oleksiy Klymenko, Heejung Kim, Yongmei Feng, Tongwu Zhang, Ji Yun Han, Ayako Murao, Scott J. Snipas, Lucia Jilaveanu, Kevin Brown, Harriet Kluger, Hao Zhang, Kazuhiro Iwai, Ze’ev A. Ronai
Pharmacologically difficult targets, such as MYC transcription factors, represent a major challenge in cancer therapy. For the childhood cancer neuroblastoma, amplification of the oncogene MYCN is associated with high-risk disease and poor prognosis. Here, we deployed genome-scale CRISPR-Cas9 screening of MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma and found a preferential dependency on genes encoding the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) components EZH2, EED, and SUZ12. Genetic and pharmacological suppression of EZH2 inhibited neuroblastoma growth in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, compared with neuroblastomas without MYCN amplification, MYCN-amplified neuroblastomas expressed higher levels of EZH2. ChIP analysis showed that MYCN binds at the EZH2 promoter, thereby directly driving expression. Transcriptomic and epigenetic analysis, as well as genetic rescue experiments, revealed that EZH2 represses neuronal differentiation in neuroblastoma in a PRC2-dependent manner. Moreover, MYCN-amplified and high-risk primary tumors from patients with neuroblastoma exhibited strong repression of EZH2-regulated genes. Additionally, overexpression of IGFBP3, a direct EZH2 target, suppressed neuroblastoma growth in vitro and in vivo. We further observed strong synergy between histone deacetylase inhibitors and EZH2 inhibitors. Together, these observations demonstrate that MYCN upregulates EZH2, leading to inactivation of a tumor suppressor program in neuroblastoma, and support testing EZH2 inhibitors in patients with MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma.
Liying Chen, Gabriela Alexe, Neekesh V. Dharia, Linda Ross, Amanda Balboni Iniguez, Amy Saur Conway, Emily Jue Wang, Veronica Veschi, Norris Lam, Jun Qi, W. Clay Gustafson, Nicole Nasholm, Francisca Vazquez, Barbara A. Weir, Glenn S. Cowley, Levi D. Ali, Sasha Pantel, Guozhi Jiang, William F. Harrington, Yenarae Lee, Amy Goodale, Rakela Lubonja, John M. Krill-Burger, Robin M. Meyers, Aviad Tsherniak, David E. Root, James E. Bradner, Todd R. Golub, Charles W.M. Roberts, William C. Hahn, William A. Weiss, Carol J. Thiele, Kimberly Stegmaier
Oncogenomic studies indicate that copy number variation (CNV) alters genes involved in tumor progression; however, identification of specific driver genes affected by CNV has been difficult, as these rearrangements are often contained in large chromosomal intervals among several bystander genes. Here, we addressed this problem and identified a CNV-targeted oncogene by performing comparative oncogenomics of human and zebrafish melanomas. We determined that the gene encoding growth differentiation factor 6 (GDF6), which is the ligand for the BMP family, is recurrently amplified and transcriptionally upregulated in melanoma. GDF6-induced BMP signaling maintained a trunk neural crest gene signature in melanomas. Additionally, GDF6 repressed the melanocyte differentiation gene MITF and the proapoptotic factor SOX9, thereby preventing differentiation, inhibiting cell death, and promoting tumor growth. GDF6 was specifically expressed in melanomas but not melanocytes. Moreover, GDF6 expression levels in melanomas were inversely correlated with patient survival. Our study has identified a fundamental role for GDF6 and BMP signaling in governing an embryonic cell gene signature to promote melanoma progression, thus providing potential opportunities for targeted therapy to treat GDF6-positive cancers.
Arvind M. Venkatesan, Rajesh Vyas, Alec K. Gramann, Karen Dresser, Sharvari Gujja, Sanchita Bhatnagar, Sagar Chhangawala, Camilla Borges Ferreira Gomes, Hualin Simon Xi, Christine G. Lian, Yariv Houvras, Yvonne J. K. Edwards, April Deng, Michael Green, Craig J. Ceol
The tumor suppressor protein retinoblastoma (RB) is mechanistically linked to suppression of transcription factor E2F1-mediated cell cycle regulation. For multiple tumor types, loss of RB function is associated with poor clinical outcome. RB action is abrogated either by direct depletion or through inactivation of RB function; however, the basis for this selectivity is unknown. Here, analysis of tumor samples and cell-free DNA from patients with advanced prostate cancer showed that direct RB loss was the preferred pathway of disruption in human disease. While RB loss was associated with lethal disease, RB-deficient tumors had no proliferative advantage and exhibited downstream effects distinct from cell cycle control. Mechanistically, RB loss led to E2F1 cistrome expansion and different binding specificity, alterations distinct from those observed after functional RB inactivation. Additionally, identification of protumorigenic transcriptional networks specific to RB loss that were validated in clinical samples demonstrated the ability of RB loss to differentially reprogram E2F1 in human cancers. Together, these findings not only identify tumor-suppressive functions of RB that are distinct from cell cycle control, but also demonstrate that the molecular consequence of RB loss is distinct from RB inactivation. Thus, these studies provide insight into how RB loss promotes disease progression, and identify new nodes for therapeutic intervention.
Christopher McNair, Kexin Xu, Amy C. Mandigo, Matteo Benelli, Benjamin Leiby, Daniel Rodrigues, Johan Lindberg, Henrik Gronberg, Mateus Crespo, Bram De Laere, Luc Dirix, Tapio Visakorpi, Fugen Li, Felix Y. Feng, Johann de Bono, Francesca Demichelis, Mark A. Rubin, Myles Brown, Karen E. Knudsen