bims-instec Biomed News
on Intestinal stem cells and chemoresistance in colon cancer and intestinal regeneration
Issue of 2023‒02‒05
nineteen papers selected by
Maria-Virginia Giolito
Free University of Brussels

  1. Res Sq. 2023 Jan 19. pii: [Epub ahead of print]
      Paneth cells (PCs), responsible for the secretion of antimicrobial peptides in the small intestine and for niche support to Lgr5+ crypt-base columnar stem cells (CBCs), have been shown to respond to inflammation by dedifferentiating into stem-like cells in order to sustain a regenerative response 1,2 . Therefore, PCs may represent the cells-of-origin of intestinal cancer in the context of inflammation. To test this hypothesis, we targeted Apc, Kras, and Tp53 mutations in Paneth cells by Cre-Lox technology and modelled inflammation by dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) administration. PC-specific loss of Apc resulted in multiple small intestinal tumors, whereas Kras or Tp53 mutations did not. Compound Apc and Kras mutations in PCs resulted in a striking increase in tumor multiplicity even in the absence of the inflammatory insult. By combining scRNAseq with lineage tracing to capture the conversion of PCs into bona fide tumor cells, we show that they progress through a "revival stem cell" (RSC) state characterized by high Clusterin (Clu) expression and Yap1 signaling, reminiscent of what has been previously observed upon irradiation of the mouse digestive tract 3 . Accordingly, comparison of PC- and Lgr5-derived murine intestinal tumors revealed differences related to Wnt signaling and inflammatory pathways which match the dichotomy of CBCs and injury-induced RSCs 4 between human sporadic colon cancers and those arising in the context of inflammatory bowel diseases. Last, we show that western-style dietary habits, known to trigger a low-grade inflammation throughout the intestinal tract, underlie the analogous de-differentiation of Paneth cells and their acquisition of stem-like features. Taken together, our results show that intestinal cancer arises in the context of inflammation through the dedifferentiation of committed secretory lineages such as Paneth cells and the activation of the revival stem cell state. As such, a true quiescent stem cell identity may be hidden in fully committed and post-mitotic lineages which, upon inflammation, support the regenerative response by re-entering the cell cycle and dedifferentiating into RSCs. The chronic nature of the tissue insult in inflammatory bowel diseases and even in the context of western-style dietary habits is likely to result in the expansion of cell targets for tumor initiation and progression.
  2. EMBO J. 2023 Jan 30. e112039
      Intestinal stem cells (ISCs) at the crypt base are responsible for the regeneration of the intestinal epithelium. However, how ISC self-renewal is regulated still remains unclear. Here we identified a circular RNA, circBtnl1, that is highly expressed in ISCs. Loss of circBtnl1 in mice enhanced ISC self-renewal capacity and epithelial regeneration, without changes in mRNA and protein levels of its parental gene Btnl1. Mechanistically, circBtnl1 and Atf4 mRNA competitively bound the ATP-dependent RNA helicase Ddx3y to impair the stability of Atf4 mRNA in wild-type ISCs. Furthermore, ATF4 activated Sox9 transcription by binding to its promoter via a unique motif, to enhance the self-renewal capacity and epithelial regeneration of ISCs. In contrast, circBtnl1 knockout promoted Atf4 mRNA stability and enhanced ATF4 expression, which caused Sox9 transcription to potentiate ISC stemness. These data indicate that circBtnl1-mediated Atf4 mRNA decay suppresses Sox9 transcription that negatively modulates self-renewal maintenance of ISCs.
    Keywords:  ATF4; Ddx3y; Intestinal stem cell; circBtnl1; self-renewal
  3. bioRxiv. 2023 Jan 13. pii: 2023.01.13.523825. [Epub ahead of print]
      The adult gut epithelium has a remarkable ability to recover from damage. To achieve cellular therapies aimed at restoring and/or replacing defective gastrointestinal tissue, it is important to understand the natural mechanisms of tissue regeneration. We employed a combination of high throughput sequencing approaches, mouse genetic models, and murine and human organoid models, and identified a role for TGFB signaling during intestinal regeneration following injury. At 2 days following irradiation (IR)-induced damage of intestinal crypts, a surge in TGFB1 expression is mediated by monocyte/macrophage cells at the location of damage. Depletion of macrophages or genetic disruption of TGFB-signaling significantly impaired the regenerative response following irradiation. Murine intestinal regeneration is also characterized by a process where a fetal transcriptional signature is induced during repair. In organoid culture, TGFB1-treatment was necessary and sufficient to induce a transcriptomic shift to the fetal-like/regenerative state. The regenerative response was enhanced by the function of mesenchymal cells, which are also primed for regeneration by TGFB1. Mechanistically, integration of ATAC-seq, scRNA-seq, and ChIP-seq suggest that a regenerative YAP-SOX9 transcriptional circuit is activated in epithelium exposed to TGFB1. Finally, pre-treatment with TGFB1 enhanced the ability of primary epithelial cultures to engraft into damaged murine colon, suggesting promise for the application of the TGFB-induced regenerative circuit in cellular therapy.GRAPHIC ABSTRACT:
  4. Br J Cancer. 2023 Jan 30.
      BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer (CRC) primary tumours are molecularly classified into four consensus molecular subtypes (CMS1-4). Genetically engineered mouse models aim to faithfully mimic the complexity of human cancers and, when appropriately aligned, represent ideal pre-clinical systems to test new drug treatments. Despite its importance, dual-species classification has been limited by the lack of a reliable approach. Here we utilise, develop and test a set of options for human-to-mouse CMS classifications of CRC tissue.METHODS: Using transcriptional data from established collections of CRC tumours, including human (TCGA cohort; n = 577) and mouse (n = 57 across n = 8 genotypes) tumours with combinations of random forest and nearest template prediction algorithms, alongside gene ontology collections, we comprehensively assess the performance of a suite of new dual-species classifiers.
    RESULTS: We developed three approaches: MmCMS-A; a gene-level classifier, MmCMS-B; an ontology-level approach and MmCMS-C; a combined pathway system encompassing multiple biological and histological signalling cascades. Although all options could identify tumours associated with stromal-rich CMS4-like biology, MmCMS-A was unable to accurately classify the biology underpinning epithelial-like subtypes (CMS2/3) in mouse tumours.
    CONCLUSIONS: When applying human-based transcriptional classifiers to mouse tumour data, a pathway-level classifier, rather than an individual gene-level system, is optimal. Our R package enables researchers to select suitable mouse models of human CRC subtype for their experimental testing.
  5. iScience. 2023 Feb 17. 26(2): 105962
      Dynamic changes in cell properties lead to intratumor heterogeneity; however, the mechanisms of nongenetic cellular plasticity remain elusive. When the fate of each cell from colorectal cancer organoids was tracked through a clonogenic growth assay, the cells showed a wide range of growth ability even within the clonal organoids, consisting of distinct subpopulations; the cells generating large spheroids and the cells generating small spheroids. The cells from the small spheroids generated only small spheroids (S-pattern), while the cells from the large spheroids generated both small and large spheroids (D-pattern), both of which were tumorigenic. Transition from the S-pattern to the D-pattern occurred by various extrinsic triggers, in which Notch signaling and Musashi-1 played a key role. The S-pattern spheroids were resistant to chemotherapy and transited to the D-pattern upon drug treatment through Notch signaling. As the transition is linked to the drug resistance, it can be a therapeutic target.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Cell biology; Therapy
  6. Mol Cell Biol. 2023 Jan;43(1): 43-63
      The physiological roles of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) in the small intestine have been revealed as immunomodulatory and barrier functions. However, its contributions to cell fate regulation are incompletely understood. The Notch-activated signaling cascade is a central component of intestinal cell fate determinations. The lateral inhibitory mechanism governed by Notch directs cell fates toward distinct cell lineages (i.e., absorptive and secretory cell lineages) through its downstream effector, mouse atonal homolog 1 (MATH1). An investigation employing cell lines and intestinal crypt cells revealed that AhR regulates Math1 expression in a xenobiotic response element (XRE)-dependent manner. The AhR-Math1 axis was further addressed using intestinal organoids, where AhR-Math1 and HES1-Math1 axes appeared to coexist within the underlying Math1 transcriptional machinery. When the HES1-Math1 axis was pharmacologically suppressed, β-naphthoflavone-mediated AhR activation increased the number of goblet and Math1+ progenitor cells in the organoids. The same pharmacological dissection of the AhR-Math1 axis was applied in vivo, demonstrating an enhanced number of Math1+ progenitor cells in the small intestine following AhR activation. We report here that AhR-Math1 is a direct transcriptional axis with effects on Math1+ progenitor cells in the small intestine, highlighting a novel molecular basis for fine-tuning Notch-mediated cell fate regulation.
    Keywords:  AhR; Math1; Math1+ progenitor cells; goblet cells; intestinal organoids
  7. Sci Adv. 2023 Feb 03. 9(5): eadd6165
      Retinoid-related orphan receptor (RAR) gamma (RORγt)-expressing regulatory T cells (RORγt+ Tregs) play pivotal roles in preventing T cell hyperactivation and maintaining tissue homeostasis, in part by secreting the anti-inflammation cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10). Here, we report that hypoxia-induced factor 1α (HIF1α) is the master transcription factor for Il10 in RORγt+ Tregs. This critical anti-inflammatory pathway is negatively regulated by an RNA binding protein DEAD box helicase 5 (DDX5). As a transcriptional corepressor, DDX5 restricts the expression of HIF1α and its downstream target gene Il10 in RORγt+ Tregs. T cell-specific Ddx5 knockout (DDX5ΔT) mice have augmented RORγt+ Treg suppressor activities and are better protected from intestinal inflammation. Genetic ablation or pharmacologic inhibition of HIF1α restores enteropathy susceptibility in DDX5ΔT mice. The DDX5-HIF1α-IL-10 pathway is conserved in mice and humans. These findings reveal potential therapeutic targets for intestinal inflammatory diseases.
  8. Gut. 2023 Jan 30. pii: gutjnl-2022-328845. [Epub ahead of print]
      OBJECTIVE: The role of N6-methyladenosine (m6A) in tumour immune microenvironment (TIME) remains understudied. Here, we elucidate function and mechanism of YTH N6-methyladenosine RNA binding protein 1 (YTHDF1) in colorectal cancer (CRC) TIME.DESIGN: Clinical significance of YTHDF1 was assessed in tissue microarrays (N=408) and TCGA (N=526) cohorts. YTHDF1 function was determined in syngeneic tumours, intestine-specific Ythdf1 knockin mice, and humanised mice. Single-cell RNA-seq (scRNA-seq) was employed to profile TIME. Methylated RNA immunoprecipitation sequencing (MeRIP-seq), RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and ribosome sequencing (Ribo-seq) were used to identify YTHDF1 direct targets. Vesicle-like nanoparticles (VNPs)-encapsulated YTHDF1-siRNA was used for YTHDF1 silencing in vivo.
    RESULTS: YTHDF1 expression negatively correlated with interferon-γ gene signature in TCGA-CRC. Concordantly, YTHDF1 protein negatively correlated with CD8+ T-cell infiltration in independent tissue microarrays cohorts, implying its role in TIME. Genetic depletion of Ythdf1 augmented antitumour immunity in CT26 (MSS-CRC) and MC38 (MSI-H-CRC) syngeneic tumours, while Ythdf1 knockin promoted an immunosuppressive TIME facilitating CRC in azoxymethane-dextran sulphate-sodium or ApcMin/+ models. scRNA-seq identified reduction of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), concomitant with increased cytotoxic T cells in Ythdf1 knockout tumours. Integrated MeRIP-seq, RNA-seq and Ribo-seq revealed p65/Rela as a YTHDF1 target. YTHDF1 promoted p65 translation to upregulate CXCL1, which increased MDSC migration via CXCL1-CXCR2 axis. Increased MSDCs in turn antagonised functional CD8+ T cells in TIME. Importantly, targeting YTHDF1 by CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) or VNPs-siYTHDF1 boosted anti-PD1 efficacy in MSI-H CRC, and overcame anti-PD1 resistance in MSS CRC.
    CONCLUSION: YTHDF1 impairs antitumour immunity via an m6A-p65-CXCL1/CXCR2 axis to promote CRC and serves as a therapeutic target in immune checkpoint blockade therapy.
    Keywords:  colon carcinogenesis; colorectal cancer; immunotherapy
  9. Immunotherapy. 2023 Feb 01.
      Most advanced colorectal cancer patients with proficient DNA mismatch repair or microsatellite stability (MSS) are insensitive to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. This report describes a heavily pretreated refractory colon adenocarcinoma patient with MSS. After experiencing four lines of treatment, the patient received the fifth-line therapy with the combined sintilimab, bevacizumab and chemotherapy. She achieved a long-term clinical outcome. The patient's progression-free survival after the fifth-line therapy was approximately 9.3 months, and her overall survival was approximately 57 months. To the best of our knowledge, this case represents the first report of durable clinical benefit from combination of an immune checkpoint inhibitor, bevacizumab and chemotherapy in a heavily pretreated patient with refractory metastatic colon adenocarcinoma with MSS.
    Keywords:  bevacizumab; case report; colon adenocarcinoma; immune checkpoint inhibitor; microsatellite stability
  10. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2023 Feb 01.
      PURPOSE: Tumor location and tumor node metastasis (TNM) stage guide treatment decisions in colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. However, patients with the same disease stage do not benefit equally from adjuvant therapy. Hence, there remains an urgent clinical need to identify prognostic and/or predictive biomarker(s) to personalize treatment decisions. In this exploratory study, we investigated whether our previously defined metabolic Warburg-subtypes can predict which CRC patients might derive survival benefit from adjuvant therapy.METHODS: Information regarding treatment (surgery only: n = 1451; adjuvant radiotherapy: n = 82; or adjuvant chemotherapy: n = 260) and Warburg-subtype (Warburg-low: n = 485, -moderate: n = 641, or -high: n = 667) was available for 1793 CRC patients from the Netherlands Cohort Study (NLCS). Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox regression models were used to investigate survival benefit from adjuvant therapy compared to surgery-only for the different Warburg-subtypes.
    RESULTS: Patients with Warburg-moderate CRC (HRCRC-specific 0.64; 95% CI 0.47-0.86, HRoverall 0.61; 95% CI 0.47-0.80), and possibly Warburg-high CRC (HRCRC-specific 0.86; 95% CI 0.65-1.14, HRoverall 0.82; 95% CI 0.64-1.05), had survival benefit from adjuvant therapy. No survival benefit was observed for patients with Warburg-low CRC (HRCRC-specific 1.07; 95% CI 0.76-1.52, HRoverall 0.95; 95% CI 0.70-1.30). There was a significant interaction between Warburg-subtype and adjuvant therapy for CRC-specific survival (p = 0.049) and overall survival (p = 0.035).
    CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that Warburg-subtypes may predict survival benefit from adjuvant therapy in CRC patients. A survival benefit from adjuvant therapy was observed for patients with Warburg-moderate and possibly Warburg-high CRC, but not for patients with Warburg-low CRC. Future prospective studies are necessary to validate our findings.
    Keywords:  Adjuvant therapy; Chemotherapy; Colorectal cancer; Radiotherapy; Survival; Warburg-effect
  11. Oncogene. 2023 Jan 31.
      Targeting cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) has recently emerged as a promising therapeutic approach against cancer. However, the anticancer mechanisms of different CDK inhibitors (CDKIs) are not well understood. Our recent study revealed that selective CDK4/6 inhibitors sensitize colorectal cancer (CRC) cells to therapy-induced apoptosis by inducing Death Receptor 5 (DR5) via the p53 family member p73. In this study, we investigated if this pathway is involved in anticancer effects of different CDKIs. We found that less-selective CDKIs, including flavopiridol, roscovitine, dinaciclib, and SNS-032, induced DR5 via p73-mediated transcriptional activation. The induction of DR5 by these CDKIs was mediated by dephosphorylation of p73 at Threonine 86 and p73 nuclear translocation. Knockdown of a common target of these CDKIs, including CDK1, 2, or 9, recapitulated p73-mediated DR5 induction. CDKIs strongly synergized with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), the most commonly used CRC chemotherapy agent, in vitro and in vivo to promote growth suppression and apoptosis, which required DR5 and p73. Together, these findings indicate p73-mediated DR5 induction as a potential tumor suppressive mechanism and a critical target engaged by different CDKIs in potentiating therapy-induced apoptosis in CRC cells. These findings help better understand the anticancer mechanisms of CDKIs and may help facilitate their clinical development and applications in CRC.
  12. Med Oncol. 2023 Feb 03. 40(3): 90
      The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of the interaction between tumor-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and macrophage polarization on colorectal cancer (CRC) progression. Clinical tissue samples of CRC and health volunteers were collected to isolate normal fibroblasts (NFs) and CAFs. LoVo, HCT116, or THP-1 cells were co-cultured with NFs or CAFs. Immunofluorescence and western blot detected the expression of related markers. MTT assay measured cell viability and IC50. Cell proliferation and metastasis were detected through colony formation and transwell assays. CRC mice models were constructed by injection of HCT116 cells, with IHC assessing C-X-C Motif Chemokine Ligand 12 (CXCL12) expression. The proliferation, migration, invasion, and cisplatin (DDP) resistance of CRC cells were apparently increased after co-culture with CAFs. Compared to NFs, CAFs have a markedly higher ability to recruit macrophages and promote macrophages M2 polarization by secreting CXCL12. Further experiments affirmed that CXCL12 secreted by CAFs boosted proliferation, migration, invasion, and DDP resistance of CRC cells via induction of the M2 polarization of macrophages. In vivo experiments confirmed that CAFs promoted the progression of CRC and DDP resistance by affecting M2 polarization through CXCL12. CAFs recruit macrophages and secrete CXCL12 to induce M2 polarization of macrophages, thus mediating cell function and DDP resistance of CRC.
    Keywords:  CXCL12; Cancer-associated fibroblast; Colorectal cancer; Macrophages M2 polarization; Tumor microenvironment
  13. Res Sq. 2023 Jan 10. pii: [Epub ahead of print]
      Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) display heterogeneous phenotypes. Yet the exact tissue cues that shape macrophage functional diversity are incompletely understood. Here we discriminate, spatially resolve and reveal the function of five distinct macrophage niches within malignant and benign breast and colon tissue. We found that SPP1 TAMs reside in hypoxic and necrotic tumor regions, and a novel subset of FOLR2 tissue-resident macrophages (TRMs) supports the plasma cell tissue niche. We discover that IL4I1 macrophages populate niches with high cell turnover where they phagocytose dying cells. Significantly, IL4I1 TAMs abundance correlates with anti-PD1 treatment response in breast cancer. Furthermore, NLRP3 inflammasome activation in NLRP3 TAMs correlates with neutrophil infiltration in the tumors and is associated with poor outcome in breast cancer patients. This suggests the NLRP3 inflammasome as a novel cancer immunotherapy target. Our work uncovers context-dependent roles of macrophage subsets and suggests novel predictive markers and macrophage subset-specific therapy targets.
  14. Clin Transl Oncol. 2023 Jan 30.
      In recent years, the exploration of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) has resulted in substantial progress and has changed the pattern of cancer treatment. ICIs have revolutionized the treatment landscape of microsatellite instable colorectal cancer while the efficacy is very limited in patients with microsatellite stable colorectal cancer. Therefore, sensitizing MSS CRC to immunotherapy is a major challenge in the field of CRC immunotherapy. Immunotherapy-based combination therapy is an effective strategy. This review of radiotherapy (RT) as a local treatment has dramatically changed in recent years, and it is now widely accepted that RT can deeply reshape the tumor environment by modulating the immune response. Such evidence gives a strong rationale for the synergism of radiotherapy and immunotherapy, introducing the era of 'immunoradiotherapy'. How to give full play to the synergistic effect of radiotherapy and immunotherapy to improve the therapeutic effect of MSS CRC and bring good prognosis is a hot problem to be solved in the field of cancer treatment.This article reviews the development of CRC immunotherapy, the immune resistance mechanism of MSS CRC, and the impact and potential value of immunotherapy combined with radiotherapy on the immune environment of CRC.
    Keywords:  CRC; Immune checkpoint inhibitors; Immunotherapy; MSS; Radiotherapy
  15. Inflamm Regen. 2023 Feb 03. 43(1): 9
      To date, many kinds of immune cells have been identified, but their precise roles in intestinal immunity remain unclear. Understanding the in vivo behavior of these immune cells and their function in gastrointestinal inflammation, including colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, ischemia-reperfusion injury, and neutrophil extracellular traps, is critical for gastrointestinal research to proceed to the next step. Additionally, understanding the immune responses involved in gastrointestinal tumors and tissue repair is becoming increasingly important for the elucidation of disease mechanisms that have been unknown. In recent years, the application of intravital microscopy in gastrointestinal research has provided novel insights into the mechanisms of intestine-specific events including innate and adaptive immunities. In this review, we focus on the emerging role of intravital imaging in gastrointestinal research and describe how to observe the intestines and immune cells using intravital microscopy. Additionally, we outline novel findings obtained by this new technique.
    Keywords:  Colorectal cancer; Immune cells; Intestinal inflammation; Intravital imaging; Tissue repair