bims-tucedo Biomed News
on Tumor cell dormancy
Issue of 2020‒12‒27
eight papers selected by
Isabel Puig Borreil
Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology

  1. EMBO J. 2020 Dec 21. e105450
      Wnt/β-catenin signaling is frequently activated in advanced prostate cancer and contributes to therapy resistance and metastasis. However, activating mutations in the Wnt/β-catenin pathway are not common in prostate cancer, suggesting alternative regulations may exist. Here, we report that the expression of endothelial cell-specific molecule 1 (ESM1), a secretory proteoglycan, is positively associated with prostate cancer stemness and progression by promoting Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Elevated ESM1 expression correlates with poor overall survival and metastasis. Accumulation of nuclear ESM1, instead of cytosolic or secretory ESM1, supports prostate cancer stemness by interacting with the ARM domain of β-catenin to stabilize β-catenin-TCF4 complex and facilitate the transactivation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling targets. Accordingly, activated β-catenin in turn mediates the nuclear entry of ESM1. Our results establish the significance of mislocalized ESM1 in driving metastasis in prostate cancer by coordinating the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, with implications for its potential use as a diagnostic or prognostic biomarker and as a candidate therapeutic target in prostate cancer.
    Keywords:  Wnt-β-catenin; cancer stemness; tumor metastasis
  2. Mol Cell. 2020 Dec 15. pii: S1097-2765(20)30827-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      In tumors, nutrient availability and metabolism are known to be important modulators of growth signaling. However, it remains elusive whether cancer cells that are growing out in the metastatic niche rely on the same nutrients and metabolic pathways to activate growth signaling as cancer cells within the primary tumor. We discovered that breast-cancer-derived lung metastases, but not the corresponding primary breast tumors, use the serine biosynthesis pathway to support mTORC1 growth signaling. Mechanistically, pyruvate uptake through Mct2 supported mTORC1 signaling by fueling serine biosynthesis-derived α-ketoglutarate production in breast-cancer-derived lung metastases. Consequently, expression of the serine biosynthesis enzyme PHGDH was required for sensitivity to the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin in breast-cancer-derived lung tumors, but not in primary breast tumors. In summary, we provide in vivo evidence that the metabolic and nutrient requirements to activate growth signaling differ between the lung metastatic niche and the primary breast cancer site.
    Keywords:  MCT2; PHGDH; breast cancer; lung environment; mTORC1; metastasis formation; pyruvate; serine biosynthesis; α-ketoglutarate
  3. Nat Cancer. 2020 Mar;1(3): 359-369
      Patient-derived xenografts are high fidelity in vivo tumor models that accurately reflect many key aspects of human cancer. In contrast to either cancer cell lines or genetically engineered mouse models, the utility of PDXs has been limited by the inability to perform targeted genome editing of these tumors. To address this limitation, we have developed methods for CRISPR-Cas9 editing of PDXs using a tightly regulated, inducible Cas9 vector that does not require in vitro culture for selection of transduced cells. We demonstrate the utility of this platform in PDXs (1) to analyze genetic dependencies by targeted gene disruption and (2) to analyze mechanisms of acquired drug resistance by site-specific gene editing using templated homology-directed repair. This flexible system has broad application to other explant models and substantially augments the utility of PDXs as genetically programmable models of human cancer.
  4. Cell. 2020 Dec 15. pii: S0092-8674(20)31606-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      Health is usually defined as the absence of pathology. Here, we endeavor to define health as a compendium of organizational and dynamic features that maintain physiology. The biological causes or hallmarks of health include features of spatial compartmentalization (integrity of barriers and containment of local perturbations), maintenance of homeostasis over time (recycling and turnover, integration of circuitries, and rhythmic oscillations), and an array of adequate responses to stress (homeostatic resilience, hormetic regulation, and repair and regeneration). Disruption of any of these interlocked features is broadly pathogenic, causing an acute or progressive derailment of the system coupled to the loss of numerous stigmata of health.
  5. Nat Commun. 2020 Dec 21. 11(1): 6422
      Wnt/β-catenin signaling is crucial for intestinal carcinogenesis and the maintenance of intestinal cancer stem cells. Here we identify the histone methyltransferase Mll1 as a regulator of Wnt-driven intestinal cancer. Mll1 is highly expressed in Lgr5+ stem cells and human colon carcinomas with increased nuclear β-catenin. High levels of MLL1 are associated with poor survival of colon cancer patients. The genetic ablation of Mll1 in mice prevents Wnt/β-catenin-driven adenoma formation from Lgr5+ intestinal stem cells. Ablation of Mll1 decreases the self-renewal of human colon cancer spheres and halts tumor growth of xenografts. Mll1 controls the expression of stem cell genes including the Wnt/β-catenin target gene Lgr5. Upon the loss of Mll1, histone methylation at the stem cell promoters switches from activating H3K4 tri-methylation to repressive H3K27 tri-methylation, indicating that Mll1 sustains stem cell gene expression by antagonizing gene silencing through polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2)-mediated H3K27 tri-methylation. Transcriptome profiling of Wnt-mutated intestinal tumor-initiating cells reveals that Mll1 regulates Gata4/6 transcription factors, known to sustain cancer stemness and to control goblet cell differentiation. Our results demonstrate that Mll1 is an essential epigenetic regulator of Wnt/β-catenin-induced intestinal tumorigenesis and cancer stemness.
  6. Mol Ther. 2020 Dec 18. pii: S1525-0016(20)30684-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Tumor cells release nucleic acid-containing pro-inflammatory complexes, termed Nucleic Acid-containing Damage-Associated Molecular Patterns (NA DAMPs), passively upon death and actively during stress. NA DAMPs activate pattern recognition receptors on cells in the tumor microenvironment leading to prolonged and intensified inflammation that potentiates metastasis. No strategy exists to control endogenous or therapy-induced inflammation in cancer patients. We discovered that the polyamidoamine dendrimer PAMAM-G3 scavenges NA DAMPs and mitigates their pro-inflammatory effects. In this study we tested if the nucleic acid scavenger (NAS) PAMAM-G3 reduces lung metastasis in murine models of breast cancer. Our data indicate that PAMAM-G3 treatment decreases cell-free DNA levels and reduces lung metastasis in the experimental intravenous tumor injection model and the post-surgical tumor resection model of 4T1 breast cancer. Reduction in lung metastasis is associated with reduction in inflammatory immune cell subsets and pro-inflammatory cytokine levels in the tumor and the periphery. This study is the first example of NAS-mediated inhibition of metastasis to the lung. The study results provide a strong rationale for inclusion of NAS therapy in women with breast cancer undergoing standard-of-care surgery.
    Keywords:  PAMAM-G3; breast cancer lung metastasis; inflammation; inflammatory immune cells; nucleic acid scavenger
  7. EMBO J. 2020 Dec 22. e104729
      The regulatory circuitry underlying embryonic stem (ES) cell self-renewal is well defined, but how this circuitry is disintegrated to enable lineage specification is unclear. RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) have essential roles in RNA-mediated gene regulation, and preliminary data suggest that they might regulate ES cell fate. By combining bioinformatic analyses with functional screening, we identified seven RBPs played important roles for the exit from pluripotency of ES cells. We characterized hnRNPLL, which mainly functions as a global regulator of alternative splicing in ES cells. Specifically, hnRNPLL promotes multiple ES cell-preferred exon skipping events during the onset of ES cell differentiation. hnRNPLL depletion thus leads to sustained expression of ES cell-preferred isoforms, resulting in a differentiation deficiency that causes developmental defects and growth impairment in hnRNPLL-KO mice. In particular, hnRNPLL-mediated alternative splicing of two transcription factors, Bptf and Tbx3, is important for pluripotency exit. These data uncover the critical role of RBPs in pluripotency exit and suggest the application of targeting RBPs in controlling ES cell fate.
    Keywords:  RNA-binding proteins; alternative splicing; embryonic stem cells; exit from pluripotency; hnRNPLL