bims-tucedo Biomed News
on Tumor cell dormancy
Issue of 2020‒09‒20
28 papers selected by
Isabel Puig Borreil
Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology

  1. Nat Commun. 2020 Sep 17. 11(1): 4684
      Cancer cells have a characteristic metabolism, mostly caused by alterations in signal transduction networks rather than mutations in metabolic enzymes. For metabolic drugs to be cancer-selective, signaling alterations need to be identified that confer a druggable vulnerability. Here, we demonstrate that many tumor cells with an acquired cancer drug resistance exhibit increased sensitivity to mechanistically distinct inhibitors of cancer metabolism. We demonstrate that this metabolic vulnerability is driven by mTORC1, which promotes resistance to chemotherapy and targeted cancer drugs, but simultaneously suppresses autophagy. We show that autophagy is essential for tumor cells to cope with therapeutic perturbation of metabolism and that mTORC1-mediated suppression of autophagy is required and sufficient for generating a metabolic vulnerability leading to energy crisis and apoptosis. Our study links mTOR-induced cancer drug resistance to autophagy defects as a cause of a metabolic liability and opens a therapeutic window for the treatment of otherwise therapy-refractory tumor patients.
  2. Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Sep 15. pii: clincanres.1675.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      PURPOSE: Mutational activation of GNAQ or GNA11 (GNAQ/11), detected in >90% of uveal melanomas, leads to constitutive activation of oncogenic pathways, including MAP kinase and YAP. To date, chemo- or pathway-targeted therapies, either alone or in combination, have proven ineffective in the treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma patients.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We tested the efficacy of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, in combination with MAP kinase pathway inhibition in GNAQ/11-mutated cells in vitro and in vivo and identified mechanisms of MEK1/2 inhibitor plus chloroquine-induced cytotoxicity.
    RESULTS: Inhibition of GNAQ/11-mediated activation of MAP kinase signaling resulted in the induction of autophagy. Combined inhibition of Gα and autophagy or lysosome function resulted in enhanced cell death. Moreover, the combination of MEK1/2 inhibition, using trametinib, with the lysosome inhibitor, chloroquine, also increased cytotoxicity. Treatment of mice bearing GNAQ/11-driven melanomas with trametinib plus hydroxychloroquine resulted in inhibition of tumor growth and significantly prolonged survival. Interestingly, lysosomal- and autophagy-specific inhibition with bafilomycin A1 was not sufficient to promote cytotoxicity in combination with trametinib. However, the addition of YAP inhibition with trametinib plus bafilomycin A1 resulted in cell death at comparable levels to trametinib plus chloroquine (T/CQ) treatment. Furthermore, T/CQ-treated cells displayed decreased YAP nuclear localization and decreased YAP transcriptional activity. Expression of a constitutively active YAP5SA mutant conferred resistance to T/CQ-induced cell death.
    CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that YAP, MEK1/2, and lysosome function are necessary and critical targets for the therapy of GNAQ/11-driven melanoma, and identify trametinib plus hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment strategy for metastatic uveal melanoma.
  3. Theranostics. 2020 ;10(22): 10016-10030
      Tumor-initiating cells (TICs) maintain heterogeneity within tumors and seed metastases at distant sites, contributing to therapeutic resistance and disease recurrence. In colorectal cancer (CRC), strategy that effectively eradicates TICs and is of potential value for clinical use still remains in need. Methods: The anti-tumorigenic activity of a small-molecule inhibitor of KDM6 histone demethylases named GSK-J4 in CRC was evaluated by in vitro assays and in vivo imaging of xenografted tumors. Sphere formation, flow cytometry analysis of cell surface markers and intestinal organoid formation were performed to examine the impact of GSK-J4 on TIC properties. Transcriptome analysis and global profiling of H3K27ac, H3K27me3, and KDM6A levels by ChIP-seq were conducted to elucidate how KDM6 inhibition reshapes epigenetic landscape and thereby eliminating TICs. Results: GSK-J4 alleviated the malignant phenotypes of CRC cells in vitro and in vivo, sensitized them to chemotherapeutic treatment, and strongly repressed TIC properties and stemness-associated gene signatures in these cells. Mechanistically, KDM6 inhibition induced global enhancer reprogramming with a preferential impact on super-enhancer-associated genes, including some key genes that control stemness in CRC such as ID1. Besides, expression of both Kdm6a and Kdm6b was more abundant in mouse intestinal crypt when compared with upper villus and inhibition of their activities blocked intestinal organoid formation. Finally, we unveiled the power of KDM6B in predicting both the overall survival outcome and recurrence of CRC patients. Conclusions: Our study provides a novel rational strategy to eradicate TICs through reshaping epigenetic landscape in CRC, which might also be beneficial for optimizing current therapeutics.
    Keywords:  GSK-J4; KDM6; colorectal cancer; super-enhancer; tumor-initiating cells
  4. Nat Commun. 2020 09 16. 11(1): 4660
      Intratumor spatial heterogeneity facilitates therapeutic resistance in glioblastoma (GBM). Nonetheless, understanding of GBM heterogeneity is largely limited to the surgically resectable tumor core lesion while the seeds for recurrence reside in the unresectable tumor edge. In this study, stratification of GBM to core and edge demonstrates clinically relevant surgical sequelae. We establish regionally derived models of GBM edge and core that retain their spatial identity in a cell autonomous manner. Upon xenotransplantation, edge-derived cells show a higher capacity for infiltrative growth, while core cells demonstrate core lesions with greater therapy resistance. Investigation of intercellular signaling between these two tumor populations uncovers the paracrine crosstalk from tumor core that promotes malignancy and therapy resistance of edge cells. These phenotypic alterations are initiated by HDAC1 in GBM core cells which subsequently affect edge cells by secreting the soluble form of CD109 protein. Our data reveal the role of intracellular communication between regionally different populations of GBM cells in tumor recurrence.
  5. Oncogene. 2020 Sep 14.
      Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and HER2-positive breast cancer are particularly aggressive and associated with unfavorable prognosis. TNBC lacks effective treatments. HER2-positive tumors have treatment options but often acquire resistance to HER2-targeted therapy after initial response. To address these challenges, we determined whether novel combinations of JAK2-STAT3 and SMO-GLI1/tGLI1 inhibitors synergistically target TNBC and HER2 breast cancer since these two pathways are concurrently activated in both tumor types and enriched in metastatic tumors. Herein, we show that novel combinations of JAK2 inhibitors (ruxolitinib and pacritinib) with SMO inhibitors (vismodegib and sonidegib) synergistically inhibited in vitro growth of TNBC and HER2-positive trastuzumab-resistant BT474-TtzmR cells. Synergy was also observed against breast cancer stem cells. To determine if the combination is efficacious in inhibiting metastasis, we treated mice with intracardially inoculated TNBC cells and found the combination to inhibit lung and liver metastases, and prolong host survival without toxicity. The combination inhibited orthotopic growth, VEGF-A expression, and tumor vasculature of both TNBC and HER2-positive trastuzumab-refractory breast cancer. Lung metastasis of orthotopic BT474-TtzmR xenografts was suppressed by the combination. Together, our results indicated that dual targeting of JAK2 and SMO resulted in synergistic suppression of breast cancer growth and metastasis, thereby supporting future clinical testing.
  6. Theranostics. 2020 ;10(22): 9984-10000
      Rationale: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy has become the standard treatment of locally advanced breast cancer. Antimicrotubule drugs and DNA-damaging drugs are the most popular medicines used for neoadjuvant chemotherapy. However, we are unable to predict which chemotherapeutic drug will benefit to an individual patient. PARK2 as a tumor suppressor in breast cancer has been reported. While the role of PARK2 in chemotherapy response remains unknown. In this study, we explore the impact of PARK2 on chemosensitivity in breast cancer. Methods: PARK2 expression in breast cancer patients with different neoadjuvant chemotherapeutic regimens was studied using immunohistochemistry. Data was correlated to disease-free survival (DFS), overall survival and pathologic complete response (pCR). The functional roles of PARK2 were demonstrated by a series of in vitro and in vivo experiments. Including mass spectrometry, Co-immunoprecipitation, isolation of subcellular fractionation, fluorescence microscopy, in vivo ubiquitination assay and luciferase analyses. Results: Highly expressed PARK2 predicted better response to antimicrotubule drugs-containing regimen associated with higher rate of pathologic complete response (pCR). In contrast, PARK2 expression did not predict response to the DNA-damaging drugs regimen. Following antimicrotubule drugs treatment, levels of PARK2 was upregulated due to the repression of STAT3-mediated transcriptional inhibition of PARK2. Moreover, overexpression of PARK2 specifically rendered cells more sensitive to antimicrotubule drugs, but not to DNA-damaging drugs. Depletion of PARK2 enhanced resistance to antimicrotubule drugs. Mechanistically, PARK2 markedly activated the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis after exposure to antimicrotubule drugs. This occurred through downregulating the antiapoptotic protein, phospho-BCL-2. BCL-2 phosphorylation can be specifically induced by antimicrotubule drugs, whereas DNA-damaging drugs do not. Notably, PARK2 interacted with phospho-BCL-2 (Ser70) and promoted ubiquitination of BCL-2 in an E3 ligase-dependent manner. Hence, PARK2 significantly enhanced the chemosensitivity of antimicrotubule drugs both in vitro and in vivo, while loss-of-function PARK2 mutants did not. Conclusions: Our findings explained why PARK2 selectively confers chemosensitivity to antimicrotubule drugs, but not to DNA-damaging drugs. In addition, we identified PARK2 as a novel mediator of antimicrotubule drugs sensitivity, which can predict response of breast cancer patients to antimicrotubule drugs-containing regime.
    Keywords:  PARK2; antimicrotubule drug; breast cancer; docetaxel; phospho-BCL-2
  7. Nature. 2020 Sep 16.
      Ferroptosis-an iron-dependent, non-apoptotic cell death process-is involved in various degenerative diseases and represents a targetable susceptibility in certain cancers1. The ferroptosis-susceptible cell state can either pre-exist in cells that arise from certain lineages or be acquired during cell-state transitions2-5. However, precisely how susceptibility to ferroptosis is dynamically regulated remains poorly understood. Here we use genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 suppressor screens to identify the oxidative organelles peroxisomes as critical contributors to ferroptosis sensitivity in human renal and ovarian carcinoma cells. Using lipidomic profiling we show that peroxisomes contribute to ferroptosis by synthesizing polyunsaturated ether phospholipids (PUFA-ePLs), which act as substrates for lipid peroxidation that, in turn, results in the induction of ferroptosis. Carcinoma cells that are initially sensitive to ferroptosis can switch to a ferroptosis-resistant state in vivo in mice, which is associated with extensive downregulation of PUFA-ePLs. We further find that the pro-ferroptotic role of PUFA-ePLs can be extended beyond neoplastic cells to other cell types, including neurons and cardiomyocytes. Together, our work reveals roles for the peroxisome-ether-phospholipid axis in driving susceptibility to and evasion from ferroptosis, highlights PUFA-ePL as a distinct functional lipid class that is dynamically regulated during cell-state transitions, and suggests multiple regulatory nodes for therapeutic interventions in diseases that involve ferroptosis.
  8. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Sep 11. pii: E2605. [Epub ahead of print]12(9):
      The unsatisfactory response of colorectal cancer (CRC) to pharmacological treatment contributes to the substantial global health burden caused by this disease. Over the last few decades, CRC has become the cause of more than 800,000 deaths per year. The reason is a combination of two factors: (i) the late cancer detection, which is being partially solved by the implementation of mass screening of adults over age 50, permitting earlier diagnosis and treatment; (ii) the inadequate response of advanced unresectable tumors (i.e., stages III and IV) to pharmacological therapy. The latter is due to the existence of complex mechanisms of chemoresistance (MOCs) that interact and synergize with each other, rendering CRC cells strongly refractory to the available pharmacological regimens based on conventional chemotherapy, such as pyrimidine analogs (5-fluorouracil, capecitabine, trifluridine, and tipiracil), oxaliplatin, and irinotecan, as well as drugs targeted toward tyrosine kinase receptors (regorafenib, aflibercept, bevacizumab, cetuximab, panitumumab, and ramucirumab), and, more recently, immune checkpoint inhibitors (nivolumab, ipilimumab, and pembrolizumab). In the present review, we have inventoried the genes involved in the lack of CRC response to pharmacological treatment, classifying them into seven groups (from MOC-1 to MOC-7) according to functional criteria to identify cancer cell weaknesses. This classification will be useful to pave the way for developing sensitizing tools consisting of (i) new agents to be co-administered with the active drug; (ii) pharmacological approaches, such as drug encapsulation (e.g., into labeled liposomes or exosomes); (iii) gene therapy interventions aimed at restoring the impaired function of some proteins (e.g., uptake transporters and tumor suppressors) or abolishing that of others (such as export pumps and oncogenes).
    Keywords:  DNA repair; apoptosis; cancer stem cell; colon cancer; drug transport; epithelial–mesenchymal transition; genetic variants; metabolism; multidrug resistance; tumor environment
  9. Oncogene. 2020 Sep 16.
      Lymph node metastasis is the major adverse feature for recurrence and death of thyroid cancer patients. To identify lncRNAs involved in thyroid cancer metastasis, we systemically screened differentially expressed lncRNAs in lymph node metastasis, thyroid cancer, and normal tissues via RNAseq. We found that lncRNA SLC26A4-AS1 was continuously, significantly down-regulated in normal tissues, thyroid cancer, and lymph node metastasis specimens. Low SLC26A4-AS1 levels in tissues were significantly associated with poor prognosis of thyroid cancer patients. LncRNA SLC26A4-AS1 markedly inhibited migration, invasion, and metastasis capability of cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Intriguingly, SLC26A4-AS1 could simultaneously interact with DDX5 and the E3 ligase TRIM25, which promoting DDX5 degradation through the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. In particular, SLC26A4-AS1 inhibited expression of multiple DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) repair genes, especially genes coding proteins in the MRE11/RAS50/NBS1 (MRN) complex. Enhanced interaction between DDX5 and transcriptional factor E2F1 due to silencing of SLC26A4-AS1 promoted binding of the DDX5-E2F1 complex at promoters of the MRN genes and, thus, stimulate the MRN/ATM dependent DSB signaling and thyroid cancer metastasis. Our study uncovered new insights into the biology driving thyroid cancer metastasis and highlights potentials of lncRNAs as future therapeutic targets again cancer metastasis.
  10. Genes Dev. 2020 Sep 17.
      Transcription factor SNAI2 plays key roles during development and has also been known to promote metastasis by inducing invasive phenotype and tumor-initiating activity of cancer cells. However, the post-translational regulation of SNAI2 is less well studied. We performed a dual-luciferase-based, genome-wide E3 ligase siRNA library screen and identified ASB13 as an E3 ubiquitin ligase that targets SNAI2 for ubiquitination and degradation. ASB13 knockout in breast cancer cells promoted cell migration and decreased F-actin polymerization, while overexpression of ASB13 suppressed lung metastasis. Furthermore, ASB13 knockout decreased YAP expression, and such regulation is dependent on an increased protein level of SNAI2, which in turn represses YAP transcription. YAP suppresses tumor progression in breast cancer, as YAP knockout increases tumorsphere formation, anchorage-independent colony formation, cell migration in vitro, and lung metastasis in vivo. Clinical data analysis reveals that ASB13 expression is positively correlated with improved overall survival in breast cancer patients. These findings establish ASB13 as a suppressor of breast cancer metastasis by promoting degradation of SNAI2 and relieving its transcriptional repression of YAP.
    Keywords:  ASB13; Hippo–YAP pathway; SNAI2; breast cancer; metastasis; migration; ubiquitin proteasome system
  11. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Sep 10. pii: E2580. [Epub ahead of print]12(9):
      Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are located in dedicated niches, where they remain inert to chemotherapeutic drugs and drive metastasis. Although plasticity in the CSC pool is well appreciated, the molecular mechanisms implicated in the regulation of cancer stemness are still elusive. Here, we define a fucosylation-dependent reprogramming of colon cancer cells towards a stem cell-like phenotype and function. De novo transcriptional activation of Fut9 in the murine colon adenocarcinoma cell line, MC38, followed by RNA seq-based regulon analysis, revealed major gene regulatory networks related to stemness. Lewisx, Sox2, ALDH and CD44 expression, tumorsphere formation, resistance to 5-FU treatment and in vivo tumor growth were increased in FUT9-expressing MC38 cells compared to the control cells. Likewise, human CRC cell lines highly expressing FUT9 displayed phenotypic features of CSCs, which were significantly impaired upon FUT9 knock-out. Finally, in primary CRC FUT9+ tumor cells pathways related to cancer stemness were enriched, providing a clinically meaningful annotation of the complicity of FUT9 in stemness regulation and may open new avenues for therapeutic intervention.
    Keywords:  colon cancer; drug resistance; fucosylation; glycosylation; pluripotency; stem cells
  12. Cancer Res. 2020 Sep 15. 80(18): 3797-3798
      The study by Benjamin and colleagues demonstrates that mutant YAP expression is sufficient to enhance tumor cell dissemination in zebrafish and mice. Moreover, the integration of approaches in biology and engineering taken here provides an important framework to link physical, physiological, and molecular properties of disseminated tumor cells (DTC). Similar integrated approaches will pave the way for future studies to generate global cancer cell dissemination maps and provide further insight into the prognostic value of DTCs for metastatic organotropisms.See related article by Benjamin et al., p. 3867.
  13. Dev Cell. 2020 Sep 14. pii: S1534-5807(20)30585-2. [Epub ahead of print]54(5): 567-569
      In this issue of Developmental Cell, Li et al. develop a novel lineage tracing system to record EMT activity during lung metastasis of mammary tumors. Using EMT-tracer mouse models, they reveal that N-cadherin is transiently expressed by most metastasis-initiating cells and demonstrate its functional importance during the metastatic cascade.
  14. EMBO J. 2020 Sep 18. e105111
      Elevated ribosome biogenesis in oncogene-driven cancers is commonly targeted by DNA-damaging cytotoxic drugs. Our previous first-in-human trial of CX-5461, a novel, less genotoxic agent that specifically inhibits ribosome biogenesis via suppression of RNA polymerase I (Pol I) transcription, revealed single-agent efficacy in refractory blood cancers. Despite this clinical response, patients were not cured. In parallel, we demonstrated a marked improvement in the in vivo efficacy of CX-5461 in combination with PI3K/AKT/mTORC1 pathway inhibitors. Here, we reveal the molecular basis for this improved efficacy observed in vivo, which is associated with specific suppression of translation of mRNAs encoding regulators of cellular metabolism. Importantly, acquired resistance to this cotreatment is driven by translational rewiring that results in dysregulated cellular metabolism and induction of a cAMP-dependent pathway critical for the survival of blood cancers including lymphoma and acute myeloid leukemia. Our studies thus identify key molecular mechanisms underpinning the response of blood cancers to selective inhibition of ribosome biogenesis and define metabolic vulnerabilities that will facilitate the rational design of more effective regimens for Pol I-directed therapies.
    Keywords:  RNA Polymerase I inhibitor; cAMP-EPAC1/2 pathway; hematological cancers; metformin; ribosome biogenesis and function
  15. Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Sep 14. pii: clincanres.1762.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      PURPOSE: Ovarian cancer has one of the highest deaths to incidence ratios across all cancers. Initial chemotherapy is effective, but most patients develop chemo-resistant disease. Mechanisms driving clinical chemo-response or -resistance are not well understood. However, achieving optimal surgical cytoreduction improves survival, and cytoreduction is improved by neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT). NACT offers a window to profile pre- versus post-NACT tumors, which we used to identify chemotherapy-induced changes to the tumor microenvironment.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We obtained matched pre- and post-NACT archival tumor tissues from patients with high-grade serous ovarian cancer (patient n=6). We measured mRNA levels of 770 genes (756 genes/14 housekeeping genes) (NanoString), and performed reverse phase protein array on a subset of matched tumors. We examined cytokine levels in pre-NACT ascites samples (n=39) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. A tissue microarray with 128 annotated ovarian tumors expanded the transcriptional, reverse phase protein array (RPPA), and cytokine data by multi-spectral immunohistochemistry.
    RESULTS: The most upregulated gene post-NACT was IL6 (16.79-fold). RPPA data were concordant with mRNA, consistent with elevated immune infiltration. Elevated IL-6 in pre-NACT ascites specimens correlated with a shorter time to recurrence. Integrating NanoString (n=12), RPPA (n=4), and cytokine (n=39) studies identified an activated inflammatory signaling network and induced IL6 and IER3 (Immediate Early Response 3) post-NACT, associated with poor chemo-response and time to recurrence.
    CONCLUSIONS: Multi-omic profiling of ovarian tumor samples pre- and post-NACT provides unique insight into chemo-induced changes to the tumor microenvironment. We identified a novel IL-6/IER3 signaling axis that may drive chemo-resistance and disease recurrence.
  16. Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Sep 17. pii: clincanres.2268.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      PURPOSE: Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) represents the second most common histological breast cancer subtype after invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). While primary ILC has been extensively studied, metastatic ILC has been poorly characterized at the genomic and immune level.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We retrospectively assembled the multi-centric EuroILC series of matched primary and metastatic samples from 94 patients with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive ILC. Stromal tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (sTIL) were assessed by experienced pathologists. Targeted sequencing and low pass whole genome sequencing were conducted to detect mutations and copy number aberrations (CNAs). We compared the frequencies of the alterations in EuroILC with those from patients with ER-positive metastatic ILC (n=135) and IDC (n=563) from MSK-IMPACT.
    RESULTS: Low sTIL levels were observed in ILC metastases, with higher levels in the mixed non-classic histology. Considering ILC metastases from EuroILC and MSK-IMPACT, we observed that >50% of tumors harbor genomic alterations that have previously been associated with endocrine resistance. A matched primary/metastasis comparison in EuroILC revealed mutations (AKT1, ARID1A, ESR1, ERBB2 or NF1) and CNAs (PTEN or NF1 deletion, CYP19A1 amplification) associated with endocrine resistance that were private to the metastasis in 22% (7/32) and 19% (4/21) of patients, respectively. An increase in CDH1, ERBB2, FOXA1 and TBX3 mutations, in CDH1 deletions and a decrease in TP53 mutations was observed in ILC as compared to IDC metastases.
    CONCLUSIONS: ILC metastases harbor genomic alterations that may potentially explain endocrine resistance in a large proportion of patients, and present genomic differences as compared to IDC metastases.
  17. Nat Commun. 2020 09 14. 11(1): 4591
      Although the efficacy of cancer radiotherapy (RT) can be enhanced by targeted immunotherapy, the immunosuppressive factors induced by radiation on tumor cells remain to be identified. Here, we report that CD47-mediated anti-phagocytosis is concurrently upregulated with HER2 in radioresistant breast cancer (BC) cells and RT-treated mouse syngeneic BC. Co-expression of both receptors is more frequently detected in recurrent BC patients with poor prognosis. CD47 is upregulated preferentially in HER2-expressing cells, and blocking CD47 or HER2 reduces both receptors with diminished clonogenicity and augmented phagocytosis. CRISPR-mediated CD47 and HER2 dual knockouts not only inhibit clonogenicity but also enhance macrophage-mediated attack. Dual antibody of both receptors synergizes with RT in control of syngeneic mouse breast tumor. These results provide the evidence that aggressive behavior of radioresistant BC is caused by CD47-mediated anti-phagocytosis conjugated with HER2-prompted proliferation. Dual blockade of CD47 and HER2 is suggested to eliminate resistant cancer cells in BC radiotherapy.
  18. Cancer Res. 2020 Sep 14. pii: canres.1634.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Src homology 2 domain-containing phosphatase (SHP2) is a phosphatase that mediates signaling downstream of multiple receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) and is required for full activation of the MAPK pathway. SHP2 inhibition has demonstrated tumor growth inhibition in RTK-activated cancers in preclinical studies. The long-term effectiveness of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) such as the EGFR inhibitor osimertinib in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is limited by acquired resistance. Multiple clinically identified mechanisms underlie resistance to osimertinib, including mutations in EGFR that preclude drug binding as well as EGFR-independent activation of the MAPK pathway through alternate RTK (RTK-bypass). It has also been noted that frequently a tumor from a single patient harbors more than one resistance mechanism and the plasticity between multiple resistance mechanisms could restrict the effectiveness of therapies targeting a single node of the oncogenic signaling network. Here we report the discovery of IACS-13909, a specific and potent allosteric inhibitor of SHP2 that suppresses signaling through the MAPK pathway. IACS-13909 potently impeded proliferation of tumors harboring a broad spectrum of activated RTK as the oncogenic driver. In EGFRmut osimertinib-resistant NSCLC models with EGFR-dependent and EGFR-independent resistance mechanisms, IACS-13909, administered as a single agent or in combination with osimertinib, potently suppressed tumor cell proliferation in vitro and caused tumor regression in vivo. Together, our findings provide preclinical evidence for using a SHP2 inhibitor as a therapeutic strategy in acquired EGFR inhibitor-resistant NSCLC.
  19. Cancer Cell. 2020 Sep 14. pii: S1535-6108(20)30420-7. [Epub ahead of print]38(3): 309-311
      An outgrowth of therapy-resistant prostate cancers (PCa) with enhanced metastatic potential may be triggered by inhibitors of androgen receptor (AR) signaling, often via epigenetic rewiring. In this issue of Cancer Cell, Yuan et al. demonstrate how SETD2 integrates EZH2 and AMPK signaling pathways to keep PCa metastasis in check.
  20. Theranostics. 2020 ;10(23): 10729-10742
      Background: Breast cancer is the most common malignancy, and approximately 70% of breast cancers are estrogen receptor-α (ERα) positive. The anti-estrogen tamoxifen is a highly effective and commonly used treatment for patients with ER+ breast cancer. However, 30% of breast cancer patients fail adjuvant tamoxifen therapy and most of metastatic breast cancer patients develop tamoxifen resistance. Although increasing evidence suggests that microRNA (miRNA) dysregulation influences tamoxifen sensitivity, the mechanism of the cross-talk between miRNA and ERα signaling remains unclear. miR-575 has been reported to be involved in carcinogenesis and progression, however, the role of miR-575 in breast cancer remains limited. The aim of this study was to understand the mechanism of miR-575 in breast cancer tamoxifen resistance. Method: RT-qPCR was employed to assess miR-575 expression in breast cancer tissues and cell lines. The association of miR-575 expression with overall survival in patients with breast cancer was evaluated with KM plotter. Additionally, the effects of miR-575 on breast cancer proliferation and tamoxifen sensitivity were investigated both in vitro and in vivo. Bioinformatic analyses and luciferase reporter assays were performed to validate CDKN1B and BRCA1 as direct targets of miR-31-5p. The ERα binding sites in the miR-575 promoter region was validated with ChIP and luciferase assays. ERα interactions with CDKN1B, cyclin D1 or BRCA1 were determined by IP analysis, and protein expression levels and localization were analyzed by western blotting and immunofluorescence, respectively. Results: miR-575 levels were higher in ER+ breast cancer than in ER- breast cancer and patients with high miR-575 expression had a significantly poorer outcome than those with low miR-575 expression. ERα bound the miR-575 promoter to activate its transcription, and tamoxifen treatment downregulated miR-575 expression in ER+ breast cancer. Overexpression of miR-575 decreased tamoxifen sensitivity by targeting CDKN1B and BRCA1. CDKN1B and BRCA1 were both able to antagonize ERα activity by inhibiting ERα nuclear translocation and interaction with cyclin D1. Furthermore, miR-575 expression was found to be upregulated in ER+ breast cancer cell with acquired tamoxifen resistance, whereas depletion of miR-575 partially re-sensitized these cells to tamoxifen by regulation of CDKN1B. Conclusions: Our data reveal the ERα-miR-575-CDKN1B feedback loop in ER+ breast cancer, suggesting that miR-575 can be used as a prognostic biomarker in patients with ER+ breast cancer, as well as a predictor or a promising target for tamoxifen sensitivity.
    Keywords:  miR-575 regulates ER+ breast cancer tamoxifen sensitivity
  21. Theranostics. 2020 ;10(23): 10360-10377
      Breast cancer (BC) is the most common female malignancy and the second leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. In spite of significant advances in clinical management, the mortality of BC continues to increase due to the frequent occurrence of treatment resistance. Intensive studies have been conducted to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying BC therapeutic resistance, including increased drug efflux, altered drug targets, activated bypass signaling pathways, maintenance of cancer stemness, and deregulated immune response. Emerging evidence suggests that long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are intimately involved in BC therapy resistance through multiple modes of action. Therefore, an in-depth understanding of the implication of lncRNAs in resistance to clinical therapies may improve the clinical outcome of BC patients. Here, we highlight the role and underlying mechanisms of lncRNAs in regulating BC treatment resistance with an emphasis on lncRNAs-mediated resistance in different clinical scenarios, and discuss the potential of lncRNAs as novel biomarkers or therapeutic targets to improve BC therapy response.
    Keywords:  Biomarkers; Breast cancer; Drug resistance; Long noncoding RNA; Therapeutic targets
  22. Genes Dev. 2020 Sep 17.
      SNAI2/SLUG, a metastasis-promoting transcription factor, is a labile protein that is degraded through the ubiquitin proteasome degradation system. Here, we conducted comprehensive gain- and loss-of-function screens using a human DUB cDNA library of 65 genes and an siRNA library of 98 genes, and identified USP20 as a deubiquitinase (DUB) that regulates SNAI2 ubiquitination and stability. Further investigation of USP20 demonstrated its function in promoting migration, invasion, and metastasis of breast cancer. USP20 positively correlates with SNAI2 protein level in breast tumor samples, and higher USP20 expression is associated with poor prognosis in ER- breast cancer patients.
    Keywords:  SLUG; SNAI2; USP20; deubiquitinase; invasion; metastasis; migration
  23. Theranostics. 2020 ;10(22): 10120-10140
      Rationale: Previous studies have reported on the role of extracellular acidity in the metastasis of numerous cancers. However, the involvement of long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) in the extracellular acidity-induced cancer metastasis of pancreatic cancer (PC) remains unclear. Methods: Different expression levels of lncRNAs in PC cells under normal and acidic conditions were compared by RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). The effects of antisense lncRNA of metastasis suppressor 1 (MTSS1-AS) on acidic PC cells were assessed by gain- and loss-of-function experiments. Fluorescence in situ hybridization, RNA immunoprecipitation, RNA pull-down, Western blot, luciferase reporter, and Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays were employed to determine the regulatory mechanisms of MTSS1-AS in the acidity-induced metastasis of PC cells. The expression of MTSS1-AS and associated pathways were compared in PC samples and peritumoral normal tissues. Results: RNA-seq demonstrated that MTSS1-AS was significantly downregulated in pancreatic cells cultured with the acidic medium. The overexpression of MTSS1-AS remarkably inhibited the acidity-promoted metastasis of PC cells by upregulating the expression of its sense gene metastasis suppressor 1 (MTSS1). Mechanistically, MTSS1-AS scaffolded the interaction between E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase STIP1 homology and U-box containing protein 1 (STUB1) and transcription regulator myeloid zinc finger 1 (MZF1), leading to ubiquitination-mediated degradation of MZF1. Further, MZF1 inhibited the expression of MTSS1 by binding to the MTSS1 promoter. Thus, the acidity-reduced MTSS1-AS facilitated the stability of MZF1 and its inhibitory effect on MTSS1 transcription, thereby promoting the metastasis of PC cells under acidic conditions. Moreover, MTSS1-AS was transcriptionally repressed by the binding of MYC proto-oncogene (Myc) with initiator (Inr) elements of the MTSS1-AS promoter. Meanwhile, MTSS1-AS mutually repressed the expression of Myc by impairing the MZF1-mediated transcription activation of Myc, thereby forming a negative feedback loop between MTSS1-AS and Myc in acidic PC cells. In accordance with the experimental results, MTSS1-AS and MTSS1 were downregulated in PC and correlated with poor overall survival. Conclusions: The results implicated that a reciprocal feedback loop between Myc and MTSS1-AS contributed to the extracellular acidity-promoted metastasis of PC, and indicated that MTSS1-AS was a valuable biomarker and therapeutic target for PC.
    Keywords:  Acidity; LncRNA; MTSS1-AS; Myc; metastasis
  24. Theranostics. 2020 ;10(22): 10274-10289
      Rationale: Pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to manage and its poor prognosis stems from the lack of a reliable early disease biomarker coupled with its highly metastatic potential. Liver metastasis accounts for the high mortality rate in pancreatic cancer. Therefore, a better understanding of the mechanism(s) underlying the acquisition of the metastatic potential in pancreatic cancer is highly desirable. Methods: Microarray analysis in wild-type and highly liver metastatic human pancreatic cancer cell lines was performed to identify gene expression signatures that underlie the metastatic process. We validated our findings in patient samples, nude mice, cell lines and database analysis. Results: We identified a metastasis-related gene, laminin subunit alpha 4 (LAMA4), that was upregulated in highly liver metastatic human pancreatic cancer cell lines. Downregulation of LAMA4 reduced the liver metastatic ability of pancreatic cancer cells in vivo. Furthermore, LAMA4 expression was positively correlated with tumor severity and in silico analyses revealed that LAMA4 was associated with altered tumor microenvironment. In particular, our in vitro and in vivo results showed that LAMA4 expression was highly correlated with cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) level which may contribute to pancreatic cancer metastasis. We further found that LAMA4 had a positive effect on the recruitment and activity of CAFs. Conclusions: These data provide evidence for LAMA4 as a possible biomarker of disease progression and poor prognosis in pancreatic cancer. Our findings indicate that LAMA4 may contribute to pancreatic cancer metastasis via recruitment or activation of CAFs.
    Keywords:  LAMA4; cancer-associated fibroblasts; metastasis; pancreatic cancer; tumor severity
  25. Theranostics. 2020 ;10(22): 10245-10261
      Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third most frequent cause of cancer-related deaths globally because of high metastasis and recurrence rates. Elucidating the molecular mechanisms of HCC recurrence and metastasis and developing effective targeted therapies are expected to improve patient survival. The promising anti-cancer agents for the treatment of hematological malignancies, histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDIs), have limited effects against epithelial cell-derived cancers, including HCC, the mechanisms involved have not been elucidated. Herein, we studied the molecular mechanisms underlying HDI-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) involving FOXO1-mediated autophagy. Methods: The biological functions of HDIs in combination with autophagy inhibitors were examined both in vitro and in vivo. Cell autophagy was assessed using the generation of mRFP-GFP-LC3-expressing cells and fluorescent LC3 puncta analysis, Western blotting, and electron microscopy. An orthotopic hepatoma model was established in mice for the in vivo experiments. Results: Our study provided novel mechanistic insights into HDI-induced EMT mediated by the autophagy AMPK-FOXO1-ULK1-Snail signaling axis. We demonstrated that autophagy served as a pro-metastasis mechanism in HDI-treated hepatoma cells. HDIs induced autophagy via a FOXO1-dependent pathway, and FOXO1 inhibition promoted HDI-mediated apoptosis in hepatoma cells. Thus, our findings provided novel insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying HDI-induced EMT involving FOXO1-mediated autophagy and demonstrated that a FOXO1 inhibitor exerted a synergistic effect with an HDI to inhibit cell growth and metastasis in vitro and in vivo. Conclusion: We demonstrated that HDIs triggers FOXO1-dependent autophagy, which ultimately promotes EMT, limiting the clinical outcome of HDI-based therapies. Our study suggests that the combination of an HDI and a FOXO1 inhibitor is an effective therapeutic strategy for the treatment of HCC.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; FOXO1 inhibitor; Histone deacetylase inhibitors; Metastasis
  26. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Sep 10. pii: E2588. [Epub ahead of print]12(9):
      RAS mutations are the second most common genetic alteration in thyroid tumors. However, the extent to which they are associated with the most aggressive phenotypes is still controversial. Regarding their malignancy, the majority of RAS mutant tumors are classified as undetermined, which complicates their clinical management and can lead to undesired under- or overtreatment. Using the chick embryo spontaneous metastasis model, we herein demonstrate that the aggressiveness of HRAS-transformed thyroid cells, as determined by the ability to extravasate and metastasize at distant organs, is orchestrated by HRAS subcellular localization. Remarkably, aggressiveness inversely correlates with tumor size. In this respect, we also show that RAS site-specific capacity to regulate tumor growth and dissemination is dependent on VEGF-B secretion. Furthermore, we have identified the acyl protein thioesterase APT-1 as a determinant of thyroid tumor growth versus dissemination. We show that alterations in APT-1 expression levels can dramatically affect the behavior of thyroid tumors, based on its role as a regulator of HRAS sublocalization at distinct plasma membrane microdomains. In agreement, APT-1 emerges in thyroid cancer clinical samples as a prognostic factor. As such, APT-1 levels could serve as a biomarker that could help in the stratification of HRAS mutant thyroid tumors based on their aggressiveness.
    Keywords:  APT-1; RAS; VEGF-B; thyroid cancer
  27. Cancer Res. 2020 Sep 14. pii: canres.3993.2019. [Epub ahead of print]
      Death receptor Fas-mediated apoptosis not only eliminates nonspecific and autoreactive B cells but also plays a major role in antitumor immunity. However, the possible mechanisms underlying impairment of Fas-mediated induction of apoptosis during lymphomagenesis remain unknown. In this study, we employed our developed syngeneic lymphoma model to demonstrate that downregulation of Fas is required for both lymphoma development and lymphoma cell survival to evade immune cytotoxicity. CD40 signal activation significantly restored Fas expression and thereby induced apoptosis after Fas ligand treatment in both mouse and human lymphoma cells. Nevertheless, certain human lymphoma cell lines were found to be resistant to Fas-mediated apoptosis, with Livin (melanoma inhibitor of apoptosis protein; ML-IAP) identified as a driver of such resistance. High expression of Livin and low expression of Fas were associated with poor prognosis in patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Livin expression was tightly driven by BET (bromodomain and extraterminal) proteins BRD4 and BRD2, suggesting that Livin expression is epigenetically regulated in refractory lymphoma cells to protect them from Fas-mediated apoptosis. Accordingly, the combination of CD40-mediated Fas restoration with targeting of the BET proteins-Livin axis may serve as a promising immunotherapeutic strategy for refractory B cell lymphoma.