bims-drucaf Biomed News
on Drugs targeting chromatin associated factors
Issue of 2020‒07‒12
fifteen papers selected by
Tian Tian
Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology

  1. Trends Immunol. 2020 Jul 01. pii: S1471-4906(20)30126-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Effective anticancer immunotherapy treatments constitute a qualitative leap in cancer management. Nonetheless, not all patients benefit from such therapies because they fail to achieve complete responses, suffer frequent relapses, or develop potentially life-threatening toxicities. Epigenomic signatures in immune and cancer cells appear to be accurate and promising predictors of patient outcomes with immunotherapy. In addition, combined treatments with epigenetic drugs can exploit the dynamic nature of epigenetic changes to potentially modulate responses to immunotherapy. Candidate epigenetic biomarkers may provide a rationale for patient stratification and precision medicine, thus maximizing the chances of treatment success while minimizing unwanted effects. We present a comprehensive up-to-date view of potential epigenetic biomarkers in immunotherapy and discuss their advantages over other indicators.
    Keywords:  DNA methylation; Epidrugs; Epigenetic biomarker; Immunotherapy
  2. Cancer Res. 2020 Jul 09. pii: canres.3782.2019. [Epub ahead of print]
      Despite advancements in treatment options, the overall cure and survival rates for non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) remain low. While small-molecule inhibitors of epigenetic regulators have recently emerged as promising cancer therapeutics, their application in patients with NSCLC is limited. To exploit epigenetic regulators as novel therapeutic targets in NSCLC, we performed pooled epigenome-wide CRISPR knockout screens in vitro and in vivo and identified the histone chaperone nucleophosmin 1 (NPM1) as a potential therapeutic target. Genetic ablation of Npm1 significantly attenuated tumor progression in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, KRAS-mutant cancer cells were more addicted to NPM1 expression. Genetic ablation of Npm1 rewired the balance of metabolism in cancer cells from predominant aerobic glycolysis to oxidative phosphorylation and reduced the population of tumor-propagating cells. Overall, our results support NPM1 as a therapeutic vulnerability in NSCLC.
  3. Epigenetics. 2020 Jul 08. 1-18
      Drug resistance is one of the trademark features of Cancer Stem Cells (CSCs). We and others have recently shown that paucity of functional death receptors (DR4/5) on the cell surface of tumour cells is one of the major reasons for drug resistance, but their involvement in the context of in CSCs is poorly understood. By harnessing CSC specific cytotoxic function of salinomycin, we discovered a critical role of epigenetic modulator EZH2 in regulating the expression of DRs in colon CSCs. Our unbiased proteome profiler array approach followed by ChIP analysis of salinomycin treated cells indicated that the expression of DRs, especially DR4 is epigenetically repressed in colon CSCs. Concurrently, EZH2 knockdown demonstrated increased expression of DR4/DR5, significant reduction of CSC phenotypes such as spheroid formation in-vitro and tumorigenic potential in-vivo in colon cancer. TCGA data analysis of human colon cancer clinical samples shows strong inverse correlation between EZH2 and DR4. Taken together, this study provides an insight about epigenetic regulation of DR4 in colon CSCs and advocates that drug-resistant colon cancer can be therapeutically targeted by combining TRAIL and small molecule EZH2 inhibitors.
    Keywords:  EZH2; apoptosis; cancer stem cells; death receptors; salinomycin
  4. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2020 Jul 07.
      Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a lethal grade IV glioma (WHO classification) and widely prevalent primary brain tumor in adults. GBM tumors harbor cellular heterogeneity with the presence of a small subpopulation of tumor cells, described as GBM cancer stem cells (CSCs) that pose resistance to standard anticancer regimens and eventually mediate aggressive relapse or intractable progressive GBM. Existing conventional anticancer therapies for GBM do not target GBM stem cells and are mostly palliative; therefore, exploration of new strategies to target stem cells of GBM has to be prioritized for the development of effective GBM therapy. Recent developments in the understanding of GBM pathophysiology demonstrated dysregulation of epigenetic mechanisms along with the genetic changes in GBM CSCs. Altered expression/activity of key epigenetic regulators, especially histone deacetylases (HDACs) in GBM stem cells has been associated with poor prognosis; inhibiting the activity of HDACs using histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) has been promising as mono-therapeutic in targeting GBM and in sensitizing GBM stem cells to an existing anticancer regimen. Here, we review the development of pan/selective HDACi as potential anticancer agents in targeting the stem cells of glioblastoma as a mono or combination therapy.
    Keywords:  Cancer stem cell; Epigenetic therapeutics; Glioblastoma multiforme; Histone deacetylase inhibitors
  5. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2020 Jul 06.
      Romidepsin (FK228), a histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi), has anti-tumor effects against several types of solid tumors. Studies have suggested that HDACi could upregulate PD-L1 expression in tumor cells and change the state of anti-tumor immune responses in vivo. However, the influence of enhanced PD-L1 expression in tumor cells induced by romidepsin on anti-tumor immune responses is still under debate. So, the purpose of this study was to explore the anti-tumor effects and influence on immune responses of romidepsin in colon cancer. The results indicated that romidepsin inhibited proliferation, induced G0/G1 cell cycle arrest and increased apoptosis in CT26 and MC38 cells. Romidepsin treatment increased PD-L1 expression in vivo and in vitro via increasing the acetylation levels of histones H3 and H4 and regulating the transcription factor BRD4. In subcutaneous transplant tumor mice and colitis-associated cancer (CAC) mice, romidepsin increased the percentage of FOXP3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs), decreased the ratio of Th1/Th2 cells and the percentage of IFN-γ+ CD8+ T cells in the peripheral blood and the tumor microenvironment. Upon combination with an anti-PD-1 antibody, the anti-tumor effects of romidepsin were enhanced and the influence on CD4+ and CD8+ T cells was partially reversed. Therefore, the combination of romidepsin and anti-PD-1 immunotherapy provides a more potential treatment for colon cancer.
    Keywords:  BRD4; Colon cancer; Histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi); PD-L1; Regulatory T cells; Romidepsin
  6. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020 ;8 486
      Therapies that target oncogenes and immune checkpoint molecules constitute a major group of treatments for metastatic melanoma. A mutation in BRAF (BRAF V600E) affects various signaling pathways, including mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) and PI3K/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) in melanoma. Target-specific agents, such as MAPK inhibitors improve progression-free survival. However, BRAFV600E mutant melanomas treated with BRAF kinase inhibitors develop resistance. Immune checkpoint molecules, such as programmed death-1 (PD-1) and programmed death ligand-1(PD-L1), induce immune evasion of cancer cells. MAPK inhibitor resistance results from the increased expression of PD-L1. Immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as anti-PD-L1 or anti-PD-1, are main players in immune therapies designed to target metastatic melanoma. However, melanoma patients show low response rate and resistance to these inhibitors develops within 6-8 months of treatment. Epigenetic reprogramming, such as DNA methylaion and histone modification, regulates the expression of genes involved in cellular proliferation, immune checkpoints and the response to anti-cancer drugs. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) remove acetyl groups from histone and non-histone proteins and act as transcriptional repressors. HDACs are often dysregulated in melanomas, and regulate MAPK signaling, cancer progression, and responses to various anti-cancer drugs. HDACs have been shown to regulate the expression of PD-1/PD-L1 and genes involved in immune evasion. These reports make HDACs ideal targets for the development of anti-melanoma therapeutics. We review the mechanisms of resistance to anti-melanoma therapies, including MAPK inhibitors and immune checkpoint inhibitors. We address the effects of HDAC inhibitors on the response to MAPK inhibitors and immune checkpoint inhibitors in melanoma. In addition, we discuss current progress in anti-melanoma therapies involving a combination of HDAC inhibitors, immune checkpoint inhibitors, and MAPK inhibitors.
    Keywords:  HDACs; MAPK; anti-cancer drug resistance; immune checkpoint; melanoma
  7. Free Radic Biol Med. 2020 Jul 07. pii: S0891-5849(20)31107-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cancer therapeutics produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) that damage the cancer genome and lead to cell death. However, cancer cells can resist ROS-induced cytotoxicity and survive. We show that nuclear-localized uracil-DNA N-glycosylase isoform 2 (UNG2) has a critical role in preventing ROS-induced DNA damage and enabling cancer-cell resistance. Under physiological conditions, UNG2 is targeted for rapid degradation via an interaction with the E3 ligase UHRF1. In response to ROS, however, UNG2 protein in cancer cells exhibits a remarkably extended half-life. Upon ROS exposure, UNG2 is deacetylated at lysine 78 by histone deacetylases, which prevents the UNG2-UHRF1 interaction. Accumulated UNG2 protein can thus excise the base damaged by ROS and enable the cell to survive these otherwise toxic conditions. Consequently, combining HDAC inhibitors (to permit UNG2 degradation) with genotoxic agents (to produce cytotoxic cellular levels of ROS) leads to a robust synergistic killing effect in cancer cells in vitro. Altogether, these data support the application of a novel approach to cancer treatment based on promoting UNG2 degradation by altering its acetylation status using an HDAC inhibitor.
    Keywords:  HDAC inhibitor; Oxidative DNA damage; ROS; UHRF1; UNG2
  8. Cancer Sci. 2020 Jul 08.
      Cancer cells are often characterized by abnormalities in DNA damage response including defects in cell cycle checkpoints and/or DNA repair. Synthetic Lethality between DNA damage repair (DDR) pathways has provided a paradigm for cancer therapy by targeting DDR. The successful example is that cancer cells with BRCA1/2 mutations are sensitized to poly (adenosine diphosphate [ADP]-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors. Beyond the narrow scope of defects in the BRCA pathway, 'BRCAness' provides more opportunities for synthetic lethality strategy. In human pancreatic cancer, frequent mutations were found in cell cycle and DDR genes, including P16, P73, APC, MLH1, ATM, PALB2 and MGMT. Combined DDR inhibitors and chemotherapeutic agents are under preclinical or clinical trials. Promoter region methylation was found frequently in cell cycle and DDR genes. Epigenetics joins the Knudson's 'two hit' theory and 'BRCAness'. Aberrant epigenetic changes in cell cycle or DDR regulators may serve as a new avenue for synthetic Lethality strategy in pancreatic cancer.
    Keywords:  DNA damage repair; cell cycle; epigenetics; pancreatic cancer; synthetic lethality
  9. Trends Immunol. 2020 Jul 02. pii: S1471-4906(20)30132-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      The full potential of T cell-based immunotherapies remains limited by a variety of T cell extrinsic and intrinsic immunosuppressive mechanisms that can become imprinted to stably reduce the antitumor ability of T cells. Here, we discuss recent insights into memory CD8+ T cell differentiation and exhaustion and the association of these differentiation states with clinical outcomes during immune checkpoint blockade and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapeutic modalities. We consider the barriers limiting immunotherapy with a focus on epigenetic regulation impeding efficacy of adoptively transferred T cells and other approaches that augment T cell responses such as immune checkpoint blockade. Furthermore, we outline conceptual and technical breakthroughs that can be applied to existing therapeutic approaches and to the development of novel cutting-edge strategies.
    Keywords:  CAR T cells; T cell exhaustion; cancer immunotherapy; epigenetics; immune checkpoint blockade
  10. Bioorg Med Chem. 2020 Aug 01. pii: S0968-0896(20)30431-4. [Epub ahead of print]28(15): 115601
      Bromodomain-containing protein 4 (BRD4) is a key epigenetic regulator in cancer, and inhibitors targeting BRD4 exhibit great anticancer activity. By replacing the methyltriazole ring of the BRD4 inhibitor I-BET-762 with an N-methylthiazolidone heterocyclic ring, fifteen novel BRD4 inhibitors were designed and synthesized. Compound 13f had a hydrophobic acetylcyclopentanyl side chain, showing the most potent BRD4 inhibitory activity in the BRD4-BD1 inhibition assay (IC50 value of 110 nM), it also significantly suppressed the proliferation of MV-4-11 cells with high BRD4 level (IC50 value of 0.42 μM). Furthermore, the potent apoptosis-promoting and G0/G1 cycle-arresting activity of compound 13f were indicated by flow cytometry. As the downstream-protein of BRD4, c-Myc was in significantly low expression by compound 13f treatment in a dose-dependent manner. All the findings supported that this novel compound 13f provided a perspective for developing effective BRD4 inhibitors.
    Keywords:  Anti-proliferation; Anti-tumor; Apoptosis; BRD4 inhibitors
  11. Neurooncol Adv. 2020 Jul;2(Suppl 1): i62-i74
      Background: Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) constitutes the leading cause of neurofibromatosis type 1-related mortality. MPNSTs contain highly rearranged hyperploid genomes and exhibit a high division rate and aggressiveness. We have studied in vitro whether the mitotic kinesins KIF11, KIF15, and KIF23 have a functional role in maintaining MPNST cell survival and can represent potential therapeutic vulnerabilities.Methods: We studied the expression of kinesin mRNAs and proteins in tumors and cell lines and used several in vitro functional assays to analyze the impact of kinesin genetic suppression (KIF15, KIF23) and drug inhibition (KIF11) in MPNST cells. We also performed in vitro combined treatments targeting KIF11 together with other described MPNST targets.
    Results: The studied kinesins were overexpressed in MPNST samples. KIF15 and KIF23 were required for the survival of MPNST cell lines, which were also more sensitive than benign control fibroblasts to the KIF11 inhibitors ispinesib and ARRY-520. Co-targeting KIF11 and BRD4 with ARRY-520 and JQ1 reduced MPNST cell viability, synergistically killing a much higher proportion of MPNST cells than control fibroblasts. In addition, genetic suppression of KIF15 conferred an increased sensitivity to KIF11 inhibitors alone or in combination with JQ1.
    Conclusions: The mitotic spindle kinesins KIF11 and KIF15 and the cytokinetic kinesin KIF23 play a clear role in maintaining MPNST cell survival and may represent potential therapeutic vulnerabilities. Although further in vivo evidences are still mandatory, we propose a simultaneous suppression of KIF11, KIF15, and BRD4 as a potential therapy for MPNSTs.
    Keywords:  BRD4 inhibitor; KIF11 inhibitor; KIF15; combined treatment; malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST)
  12. Immunity. 2020 Jul 01. pii: S1074-7613(20)30266-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Regulatory T (Treg) cells play a pivotal role in suppressing auto-reactive T cells and maintaining immune homeostasis. Treg cell development and function are dependent on the transcription factor Foxp3. Here, we performed a genome-wide CRISPR loss-of-function screen to identify Foxp3 regulators in mouse primary Treg cells. Foxp3 regulators were enriched in genes encoding subunits of the SWI/SNF nucleosome-remodeling and SAGA chromatin-modifying complexes. Among the three SWI/SNF-related complexes, the Brd9-containing non-canonical (nc) BAF complex promoted Foxp3 expression, whereas the PBAF complex was repressive. Chemical-induced degradation of Brd9 led to reduced Foxp3 expression and reduced Treg cell function in vitro. Brd9 ablation compromised Treg cell function in inflammatory disease and tumor immunity in vivo. Furthermore, Brd9 promoted Foxp3 binding and expression of a subset of Foxp3 target genes. Our findings provide an unbiased analysis of the genetic networks regulating Foxp3 and reveal ncBAF as a target for therapeutic manipulation of Treg cell function.
    Keywords:  Brd9; CRISPR; Foxp3; GBAF; SWI/SNF; Treg; ncBAF; screen
  13. Open Biol. 2020 07;10(7): 200121
      Gene expression programmes driving cell identity are established by tightly regulated transcription factors that auto- and cross-regulate in a feed-forward manner, forming core regulatory circuitries (CRCs). CRC transcription factors create and engage super-enhancers by recruiting acetylation writers depositing permissive H3K27ac chromatin marks. These super-enhancers are largely associated with BET proteins, including BRD4, that influence higher-order chromatin structure. The orchestration of these events triggers accessibility of RNA polymerase machinery and the imposition of lineage-specific gene expression. In cancers, CRCs drive cell identity by superimposing developmental programmes on a background of genetic alterations. Further, the establishment and maintenance of oncogenic states are reliant on CRCs that drive factors involved in tumour development. Hence, the molecular dissection of CRC components driving cell identity and cancer state can contribute to elucidating mechanisms of diversion from pre-determined developmental programmes and highlight cancer dependencies. These insights can provide valuable opportunities for identifying and re-purposing drug targets. In this article, we review the current understanding of CRCs across solid and liquid malignancies and avenues of investigation for drug development efforts. We also review techniques used to understand CRCs and elaborate the indication of discussed CRC transcription factors in the wider context of cancer CRC models.
    Keywords:  cell identity; core regulatory circuitry; liquid and solid cancers; super-enhancers
  14. Cells. 2020 Jul 08. pii: E1639. [Epub ahead of print]9(7):
      Our understanding of the significance of epigenetic dysregulation in the pathogenesis of myeloid malignancies has greatly advanced in the past decade. Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 (EZH2) is the catalytic core component of the Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2), which is responsible for gene silencing through trimethylation of H3K27. EZH2 dysregulation is highly tumorigenic and has been observed in various cancers, with EZH2 acting as an oncogene or a tumor-suppressor depending on cellular context. While loss-of-function mutations of EZH2 frequently affect patients with myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms, myelodysplastic syndrome and myelofibrosis, cases of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) seem to be largely characterized by EZH2 overexpression. A variety of other factors frequently aberrant in myeloid leukemia can affect PRC2 function and disease pathogenesis, including Additional Sex Combs Like 1 (ASXL1) and splicing gene mutations. As the genetic background of myeloid malignancies is largely heterogeneous, it is not surprising that EZH2 mutations act in conjunction with other aberrations. Since EZH2 mutations are considered to be early events in disease pathogenesis, they are of therapeutic interest to researchers, though targeting of EZH2 loss-of-function does present unique challenges. Preliminary research indicates that combined tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) and EZH2 inhibitor therapy may provide a strategy to eliminate the residual disease burden in CML to allow patients to remain in treatment-free remission.
    Keywords:  ASXL1; CML; EZH2; MDS; MPN; PRC2; mutations; myeloid malignancies
  15. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2020 Aug 15. pii: S0960-894X(20)30401-7. [Epub ahead of print]30(16): 127291
      Hydroxamic acid-based histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) are a class of epigenetic agents with potentially broad therapeutic application to several disease states including post angioplasty mediated neointimal hyperplasia (NIH). Precise spatiotemporal control over the release of HDACi at the target blood vessel site is required for the safe and successful therapeutic use of HDACi in the setting of drug eluting balloon catheter (DEBc) angioplasty treatment of NIH. We aimed to develop and characterise a novel photoactive HDACi, as a potential coating agent for DEBc. Metacept-3 1 was caged with a photo-labile protecting group (PPG) to synthesise a novel UV365nm active HDACi, caged metacept-3 15. Conversion of caged metacept-3 15 to active/native metacept-3 1 by UV365nm was achievable in significant quantities and at UV365nm power levels in the milliwatt (mW) range. In vitro evaluation of the biological activity of pre and post UV365nm activation of caged metacept-3 15 identified significant HDACi activity in samples exposed to short duration, mW range UV365nm. Toxicity studies performed in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC's) identified significantly reduced toxicity of caged metacept-3 15 pre UV365nm exposure compared with native metacept-3 1 and paclitaxel (PTX). Taken together these findings identify a novel photo-activated HDACi, caged metacept-3 15, with pharmacokinetic activation characteristics and biological properties which may make it suitable for evaluation as a novel coating for targeted DEBc angioplasty interventions.
    Keywords:  Caged metacept-3; DEBc; HDACi; Metacept-3; Photolytic release of HDACi