bims-tucedo Biomed News
on Tumor cell dormancy
Issue of 2021‒03‒07
thirty-five papers selected by
Isabel Puig Borreil
Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology

  1. Nat Genet. 2021 Mar 01.
      Resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) is a key challenge in cancer therapy. To elucidate underlying mechanisms, we developed Perturb-CITE-sequencing (Perturb-CITE-seq), enabling pooled clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas9 perturbations with single-cell transcriptome and protein readouts. In patient-derived melanoma cells and autologous tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) co-cultures, we profiled transcriptomes and 20 proteins in ~218,000 cells under ~750 perturbations associated with cancer cell-intrinsic ICI resistance (ICR). We recover known mechanisms of resistance, including defects in the interferon-γ (IFN-γ)-JAK/STAT and antigen-presentation pathways in RNA, protein and perturbation space, and new ones, including loss/downregulation of CD58. Loss of CD58 conferred immune evasion in multiple co-culture models and was downregulated in tumors of melanoma patients with ICR. CD58 protein expression was not induced by IFN-γ signaling, and CD58 loss conferred immune evasion without compromising major histocompatibility complex (MHC) expression, suggesting that it acts orthogonally to known mechanisms of ICR. This work provides a framework for the deciphering of complex mechanisms by large-scale perturbation screens with multimodal, single-cell readouts, and discovers potentially clinically relevant mechanisms of immune evasion.
  2. Nat Commun. 2021 03 02. 12(1): 1394
      N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is a reversible mRNA modification that has been shown to play important roles in various biological processes. However, the roles of m6A modification in macrophages are still unknown. Here, we discover that ablation of Mettl3 in myeloid cells promotes tumour growth and metastasis in vivo. In contrast to wild-type mice, Mettl3-deficient mice show increased M1/M2-like tumour-associated macrophage and regulatory T cell infiltration into tumours. m6A sequencing reveals that loss of METTL3 impairs the YTHDF1-mediated translation of SPRED2, which enhances the activation of NF-kB and STAT3 through the ERK pathway, leading to increased tumour growth and metastasis. Furthermore, the therapeutic efficacy of PD-1 checkpoint blockade is attenuated in Mettl3-deficient mice, identifying METTL3 as a potential therapeutic target for tumour immunotherapy.
  3. Oncogene. 2021 Mar 05.
      Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBCs) account for 15-20% of all breast cancers and represent the most aggressive subtype of this malignancy. Early tumor relapse and progression are linked to the enrichment of a sub-fraction of cancer cells, termed breast tumor-initiating cells (BTICs), that undergo epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and typically exhibit a basal-like CD44high/CD24low and/or ALDH1high phenotype with critical cancer stem-like features such as high self-renewal capacity and intrinsic (de novo) resistance to standard of care chemotherapy. One of the major mechanisms responsible for the intrinsic drug resistance of BTICs is their high ALDH1 activity leading to inhibition of chemotherapy-induced apoptosis. In this study, we demonstrated that aurora-A kinase (AURKA) is required to mediate TGF-β-induced expression of the SNAI1 gene, enrichment of ALDH1high BTICs, self-renewal capacity, and chemoresistance in TNBC experimental models. Significantly, the combination of docetaxel (DTX) with dual TGF-β and AURKA pharmacologic targeting impaired tumor relapse and the emergence of distant metastasis. We also showed in unique chemoresistant TNBC cells isolated from patient-derived TNBC brain metastasis that dual TGF-β and AURKA pharmacologic targeting reversed cancer plasticity and enhanced the sensitivity of TNBC cells to DTX-based-chemotherapy. Taken together, these findings reveal for the first time the critical role of AURKA oncogenic signaling in mediating TGF-β-induced TNBC plasticity, chemoresistance, and tumor progression.
  4. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(8): 3676-3693
      Background: Methyltransferase-like 14 (METTL14) participates in tumorigenesis in several malignancies, but how METTL14 mediates the metastasis of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) has never been reported. Methods: Western blotting, quantitative real-time PCR, and immunohistochemistry were used to determine the mRNA and protein levels of relevant genes. Methylated RNA immunoprecipitation sequencing and RNA sequencing were utilized to screen potential targets of METTL14. Chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing and assay for transposase-accessible chromatin sequencing were performed to investigate epigenetic alterations. The biological roles and mechanisms of METTL14/BPTF in promoting lung metastasis were confirmed in vitro and in vivo using cell lines, patient samples, xenograft models, and organoids. Results: Utilizing the TCGA-KIRC and Ruijin-RCC datasets, we found low expression of METTL14 in mRCC samples, which predicted poor prognosis. METTL14 deficiency promoted RCC metastasis in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, METTL14-mediated m6A modification negatively regulated the mRNA stability of bromodomain PHD finger transcription factor (BPTF) and depended on BPTF to drive lung metastasis. Accumulated BPTF in METTL14-deficient cells remodeled the enhancer landscape to reinforce several oncogenic crosstalk. Particularly, BPTF constituted super-enhancers that activate downstream targets like enolase 2 and SRC proto-oncogene nonreceptor tyrosine kinase, leading to glycolytic reprogramming of METTL14-/- cells. Finally, we determined the efficacy of the BPTF inhibitor AU1 in suppressing mRCC of patient-derived cells, mRCC-derived organoids (MDOs), and orthotopic xenograft models. Conclusions: Our study is the first to investigate the essential role of m6A modification and the METTL14/BPTF axis in the epigenetic and metabolic remodeling of mRCC, highlighting AU1 as a vital therapeutic candidate.
    Keywords:  BPTF; METTL14; glycolysis; metastatic RCC; super-enhancers
  5. Nat Commun. 2021 03 04. 12(1): 1434
      Although melanoma is initiated by acquisition of point mutations and limited focal copy number alterations in melanocytes-of-origin, the nature of genetic changes that characterise lethal metastatic disease is poorly understood. Here, we analyze the evolution of human melanoma progressing from early to late disease in 13 patients by sampling their tumours at multiple sites and times. Whole exome and genome sequencing data from 88 tumour samples reveals only limited gain of point mutations generally, with net mutational loss in some metastases. In contrast, melanoma evolution is dominated by whole genome doubling and large-scale aneuploidy, in which widespread loss of heterozygosity sculpts the burden of point mutations, neoantigens and structural variants even in treatment-naïve and primary cutaneous melanomas in some patients. These results imply that dysregulation of genomic integrity is a key driver of selective clonal advantage during melanoma progression.
  6. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(8): 3624-3641
      Arginine synthesis deficiency due to the suppressed expression of ASS1 (argininosuccinate synthetase 1) represents one of the most frequently occurring metabolic defects of tumor cells. Arginine-deprivation therapy has gained increasing attention in recent years. One challenge of ADI-PEG20 (pegylated ADI) therapy is the development of drug resistance caused by restoration of ASS1 expression and other factors. The goal of this work is to identify novel factors conferring therapy resistance. Methods: Multiple, independently derived ADI-resistant clones including derivatives of breast (MDA-MB-231 and BT-549) and prostate (PC3, CWR22Rv1, and DU145) cancer cells were developed. RNA-seq and RT-PCR were used to identify genes upregulated in the resistant clones. Unbiased genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9 knockout screening was used to identify genes whose absence confers sensitivity to these cells. shRNA and CRISPR/Cas9 knockout as well as overexpression approaches were used to validate the functions of the resistant genes both in vitro and in xenograft models. The signal pathways were verified by western blotting and cytokine release. Results: Based on unbiased CRISPR/Cas9 knockout screening and RNA-seq analyses of independently derived ADI-resistant (ADIR) clones, aberrant activation of the TREM1/CCL2 axis in addition to ASS1 expression was consistently identified as the resistant factors. Unlike ADIR, MDA-MB-231 overexpressing ASS1 cells achieved only moderate ADI resistance both in vitro and in vivo, and overexpression of ASS1 alone does not activate the TREM1/CCL2 axis. These data suggested that upregulation of TREM1 is an independent factor in the development of strong resistance, which is accompanied by activation of the AKT/mTOR/STAT3/CCL2 pathway and contributes to cell survival and overcoming the tumor suppressive effects of ASS1 overexpression. Importantly, knockdown of TREM1 or CCL2 significantly sensitized ADIR toward ADI. Similar results were obtained in BT-549 breast cancer cell line as well as castration-resistant prostate cancer cells. The present study sheds light on the detailed mechanisms of resistance to arginine-deprivation therapy and uncovers novel targets to overcome resistance. Conclusion: We uncovered TREM1/CCL2 activation, in addition to restored ASS1 expression, as a key pathway involved in full ADI-resistance in breast and prostate cancer models.
    Keywords:  ADI resistance; CCL2; CRISPR/Cas9; TREM1; arginine starvation
  7. Mol Cancer Res. 2021 Mar 05. pii: molcanres.0652.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) has improved cancer care, but ICB is only effective in some patients. The molecular mechanisms that influence ICB therapy response are not completely understood. The non-classical major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecule HLA-E and its mouse ortholog, Qa-1b, present a limited set of peptides in a TAP1-dependent manner to the NKG2A/CD94 heterodimer to transduce an inhibitory signal to natural killer (NK) and CD8+ T cells. However, deficiency of TAP1 allows Qa-1b to present an alternative peptidome to Qa-1b-restricted T cell receptors of cytotoxic T cells. In this study, we used CRISPR-Cas9 to study the relationship between TAP1, Qa-1b, and response to anti-PD1 therapy. We hypothesized that immunotherapy response in TAP1 deficient tumors would be influenced by Qa-1b. Strikingly, using a syngeneic orthotopic mouse model, we found that while TAP1 deficient tumors were resistant to anti-PD1 treatment, anti-PD1 response was significantly enhanced in tumors lacking both TAP1 and Qa-1b. This increased sensitivity is partially dependent on NK cells. TAP1-deficient tumors were associated with an increase of intratumoral regulatory T cells (Treg) and neutrophils, while tumors lacking both TAP1 and Qa-1b exhibited an increased CD8+ T cell to Treg ratio. These data suggest that direct inhibition of Qa-1b may alter the immune microenvironment to reverse resistance to anti-PD1 therapy, particularly in the context of antigen processing defects. Implications: This study reveals important functional crosstalk between classical TAP-dependent MHC complexes and Qa-1b/HLA-E, particularly in tumors with impaired antigen processing machinery. This can dramatically influence immunotherapy efficacy.
  8. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Mar 09. pii: e2026507118. [Epub ahead of print]118(10):
      Ki-67 is a nuclear protein that is expressed in all proliferating vertebrate cells. Here, we demonstrate that, although Ki-67 is not required for cell proliferation, its genetic ablation inhibits each step of tumor initiation, growth, and metastasis. Mice lacking Ki-67 are resistant to chemical or genetic induction of intestinal tumorigenesis. In established cancer cells, Ki-67 knockout causes global transcriptome remodeling that alters the epithelial-mesenchymal balance and suppresses stem cell characteristics. When grafted into mice, tumor growth is slowed, and metastasis is abrogated, despite normal cell proliferation rates. Yet, Ki-67 loss also down-regulates major histocompatibility complex class I antigen presentation and, in the 4T1 syngeneic model of mammary carcinoma, leads to an immune-suppressive environment that prevents the early phase of tumor regression. Finally, genes involved in xenobiotic metabolism are down-regulated, and cells are sensitized to various drug classes. Our results suggest that Ki-67 enables transcriptional programs required for cellular adaptation to the environment. This facilitates multiple steps of carcinogenesis and drug resistance, yet may render cancer cells more susceptible to antitumor immune responses.
    Keywords:  Ki-67; cancer; genetically modified mice; transcription
  9. Oncogene. 2021 Mar 01.
      Recent findings suggest that the dissemination of tumor cells occurs at the early stage of breast and pancreatic carcinogenesis, which is known as early dissemination. The evidence of early dissemination has been demonstrated predominantly in the bloodstream and bone marrow; however, limited evidence has revealed the existence and behavior of disseminated cells in distant organs. Here, we show that premalignant pancreatic cells seed distant stealth metastasis that eventually develops into manifest metastasis. By analyzing lineage-labeled pancreatic cancer mouse models (KPCT/TFF1KO; Pdx1-Cre/LSL-KRASG12D/LSL-p53R172H/LSL-tdTomato/TFF1KO), we found that premalignant pancreatic cells, rather than mature malignant cells, were prone to enter the bloodstream and reside in the bone marrow, liver, and lung. While these metastatic cells exhibited the characteristics of the cells of host organs and did not behave as malignant cells, they underwent malignant transformation and formed distinct tumors. Surprisingly, the manifestation of distant metastasis occurred even before tumor development in the primary site. Our data revealed that disseminated premalignant cells reside stealthily in distant organs and evolve in parallel with the progression of the primary tumor. These observations suggest that we must rebuild a therapeutic strategy for metastatic pancreatic cancer.
  10. Cancer Res. 2021 Mar 01. pii: canres.3021.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Overcoming drug resistance is one of the biggest challenges in cancer chemotherapy. In this study, we examine whether targeting the long non-coding RNA taurine upregulated gene 1 (TUG1) could be an effective therapeutic approach to overcome drug resistance in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). TUG1 was expressed at significantly higher levels across 197 PDAC tissues compared to normal pancreatic tissues. Overall survival of PDAC patients who had undergone 5-FU-based chemotherapy was shorter in high-TUG1 group than in low-TUG1 group. Mechanistically, TUG1 antagonized miR-376b-3p and upregulated dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD). TUG1 depletion induced susceptibility to 5-FU in BxPC-3 and PK-9 pancreatic cell lines. Consistently, the cellular concentration of 5-FU was significantly higher under TUG1-depleted conditions. In PDAC xenograft models, intravenous treatment with a cancer-specific drug delivery system (TUG1-DDS) and 5-FU significantly suppressed PDAC tumor growth compared to 5-FU treatment alone. This novel approach using TUG1-DDS in combination with 5-FU may serve as an effective therapeutic option to attenuate DPD activity and meet appropriate 5-FU dosage requirements in targeted PDAC cells, which can reduce the systemic adverse effects of chemotherapy.
  11. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Feb 23. pii: 924. [Epub ahead of print]13(4):
      After the successful launch in the second half of 2018 by Cancers, the topic collection "Drug Resistance and Novel Therapies in Cancers" experienced its productive first full year in 2019 [...].
  12. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Feb 28. pii: 1007. [Epub ahead of print]13(5):
      (1) Background: metastatic relapse following a prolonged period of disease-free survival is a common cause of mortality for many cancer patients. Disseminated dormant cancer cells (DDCCs) lie below the radar before waking up years, or even decades, after the removal of the primary tumor. This implies that they are able to survive in a latent state in a foreign environment for an extended period of time supported by intrinsic and extrinsic factors still to be elucidated. (2) Methods: we employed a coculture of DDCCs with lung epithelial cells together with RNA sequencing analysis to understand the overlap in gene transcription between in vivo and cocultured DDCCs. (3) Results: we found a significant overlap between the processes activated in DDCCs from lungs and in the coculture, as well as in alveolar type I cells in vivo and in coculture. We identified the transcription factor EB (TFEB)-lysosomal axis as a relevant process activated in DDCCs upon dissemination to the lung and confirmed the results in our lung coculture. Interestingly, breast cancer patients with a higher expression of TFEB targets show increased likelihood of developing relapses. (4) Conclusions: we propose that lysosomal accumulation following TFEB activation is an important feature of breast cancer DDCCs that might be exploited for future therapeutic interventions.
    Keywords:  TFEB; dormancy; in vitro models; lysosomes; organotypic systems; tumor microenvironment
  13. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(8): 3932-3947
      The tumor microenvironment contributes to tumor progression and metastasis. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) form a major cellular component of the tumor microenvironment. In this study, we further explored the mechanisms underlying the tumor-promoting roles of CAFs. Methods: Patient-derived CAFs and normal fibroblasts (NFs) were isolated from breast carcinomas and adjacent normal breast tissue. Exosomes were isolated by ultracentrifugation and CAF-derived exosomal microRNAs were screened using next-generation sequencing technology. MiR-500a-5p expression was assessed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and in situ hybridization; Tumor cell proliferation was determined by MTT assays and three-dimensioned (3D) cultures, and tumor metastasis was determined by Transwell assays in vitro. In vivo assays were performed in a nude mouse subcutaneous xenograft model. Results: We confirmed that CAF-derived exosomes significantly promoted the proliferation and metastasis of breast cancer cells. MiR-500a-5p was highly expressed in MDA-MB-231 and MCF7 cells treated with CAF-derived exosomes. The upregulation of miR-500a-5p was also confirmed in CAFs and CAF-derived exosomes. MiR-500a-5p was transferred from CAFs to the cancer cells, and subsequently promoted proliferation and metastasis by binding to ubiquitin-specific peptidase 28 (USP28). Conclusions: The present study demonstrates that CAFs promote breast cancer progression and metastasis via exosomal miR-500a-5p and indicate that inhibiting CAF-derived miR-500a-5p is an alternative modality for the treatment of breast cancer.
    Keywords:  USP28; breast cancer; cancer-associated fibroblasts; exosome; miR-500a-5p
  14. J Clin Invest. 2021 Mar 04. pii: 146431. [Epub ahead of print]
      SUMOylation emerged as the inducer for the sorting of bioactive molecules into extracellular vesicles (EVs) triggering lymphangiogenesis, further driving tumor lymph node (LN) metastasis, but the precise mechanisms remain largely unclear. Herein, we identified that bladder cancer (BCa) cell-secreted EVs mediated the intercellular communication with human lymphatic endothelial cells (HLECs) through the transmission of a long noncoding RNA ELNAT1, and promoted lymphangiogenesis and LN metastasis in a SUMOylation-dependent manner in both cultured BCa cell lines and mouse models. Mechanistically, ELNAT1 induced UBC9 overexpression to catalyze the SUMOylation of hnRNPA1 at lysine-113 residue, which mediated the recognition of ELNAT1 by endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) and facilitated their packaging into EVs. EV-mediated ELNAT1 was specifically transmitted into HLECs and epigenetically activated SOX18 transcription to induce lymphangiogenesis. Importantly, blocking the SUMOylation of tumor by downregulating UBC9 expression markedly reduced lymphatic metastasis in EV-mediated ELNAT1-treated BCa in vivo. Clinically, EV-mediated ELNAT1 was correlated with LN metastasis and poor prognosis of patients with BCa. These findings highlight a molecular mechanism that EV-mediated ELNAT1/UBC9/SOX18 regulatory axis promotes the lymphangiogenesis and LN metastasis of BCa in a SUMOylation-dependent manner, and implicate ELNAT1 as an attractive therapeutic target for LN metastatic BCa.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Cell Biology; Extracellular matrix; Lymph; Oncology
  15. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(8): 3710-3724
      Nanoparticle drug delivery system (NDDS) is quite different from the widely studied traditional chemotherapy which suffers from drug resistance and side effect. NDDS offers the straightforward solution to the chemotherapy problem and provides an opportunity to monitor the drug delivery process in real time. In this vein, we developed one NDDS, namely Py-TPE/siRNA@PMP, to relieve resistance and side effects during chemotherapy against ovarian cancer. The Py-TPE/siRNA@PMP is a multifunctional polymeric nanoparticle contained several parts as follows: (1) a nanoparticle (NP) self-assembled by reduction-sensitive paclitaxel polymeric prodrug (PMP); (2) the glutathione (GSH)-responsive release of paclitaxel (PTX) for the suppression of ovarian cancer cells; (3) the P-glycoprotein (P-gp) siRNA for restoring the sensitivity of chemo-resistant tumor cells to chemotherapy; (4) the positively charged aggregation-induced emission fluorogen (AIEgen) Py-TPE for tumor imaging and promoting encapsulation of siRNA into the nanoparticle. Methods: The Py-TPE/siRNA@PMP nanoparticles were prepared by self-assembly method and characterized by the UV-Vis absorption spectra, zeta potentials, TEM image, stability assay and hydrodynamic size distributions. The combinational therapeutic effects of Py-TPE/siRNA@PMP on overcoming chemotherapy resistance were explored both in vitro and in vivo. Result: The Py-TPE/siRNA@PMP exhibited an average hydrodynamic size with a good stability. Meanwhile they gave rise to the remarkable chemotoxicity performances in vitro and suppressed the tumors growth in both SKOV-3/PTX (PTX resistance) subcutaneous and intraperitoneal metastasis tumor models. The investigations on ovarian cancer patient-derived xenografts (PDX) model revealed that Py-TPE/siRNA@PMP was able to effectively overcome their chemo-resistance with minimal side effects. Conclusion: Our findings demonstrated the Py-TPE/siRNA@PMP as a promising agent for the highly efficient treatment of PTX-resistant cells and overcoming the shortage of chemotherapy in ovarian cancer.
    Keywords:  aggregation-induced emission; chemotherapy resistance; drug delivery; ovarian cancer; p-glycoprotein
  16. Nat Med. 2021 Mar 04.
      Metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer is typically lethal, exhibiting intrinsic or acquired resistance to second-generation androgen-targeting therapies and minimal response to immune checkpoint inhibitors1. Cellular programs driving resistance in both cancer and immune cells remain poorly understood. We present single-cell transcriptomes from 14 patients with advanced prostate cancer, spanning all common metastatic sites. Irrespective of treatment exposure, adenocarcinoma cells pervasively coexpressed multiple androgen receptor isoforms, including truncated isoforms hypothesized to mediate resistance to androgen-targeting therapies2,3. Resistance to enzalutamide was associated with cancer cell-intrinsic epithelial-mesenchymal transition and transforming growth factor-β signaling. Small cell carcinoma cells exhibited divergent expression programs driven by transcriptional regulators promoting lineage plasticity and HOXB5, HOXB6 and NR1D2 (refs. 4-6). Additionally, a subset of patients had high expression of dysfunction markers on cytotoxic CD8+ T cells undergoing clonal expansion following enzalutamide treatment. Collectively, the transcriptional characterization of cancer and immune cells from human metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer provides a basis for the development of therapeutic approaches complementing androgen signaling inhibition.
  17. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(8): 3964-3980
      Death receptor 4 (DR4), a cell surface receptor, mediates apoptosis or induces inflammatory cytokine secretion upon binding to its ligand depending on cell contexts. Its prognostic impact in lung cancer and connection between EGFR-targeted therapy and DR4 modulation has not been reported and thus was the focus of this study. Methods: Intracellular protein alterations were measured by Western blotting. Cell surface protein was detected with antibody staining and flow cytometry. mRNA expression was monitored with qRT-PCR. Gene transactivation was analyzed with promoter reporter assay. Drug dynamic effects in vivo were evaluated using xenografts. Gene modulations were achieved with gene overexpression and knockdown. Proteins in human archived tissues were stained with immunohistochemistry. Results: EGFR inhibitors (e.g., osimertinib) decreased DR4 levels only in EGFR mutant NSCLC cells and tumors, being tightly associated with induction of apoptosis. This modulation was lost once cells became resistant to these inhibitors. Increased levels of DR4 were detected in cell lines with acquired osimertinib resistance and in NSCLC tissues relapsed from EGFR-targeted therapy. DR4 knockdown induced apoptosis and augmented apoptosis when combined with osimertinib in both sensitive and resistant cell lines, whereas enforced DR4 expression significantly attenuated osimertinib-induced apoptosis. Mechanistically, osimertinib induced MARCH8-mediated DR4 proteasomal degradation and suppressed MEK/ERK/AP-1-dependent DR4 transcription, resulting in DR4 downregulation. Moreover, we found that DR4 positive expression in human lung adenocarcinoma was significantly associated with poor patient survival. Conclusions: Collectively, we suggest that DR4 downregulation is coupled to therapeutic efficacy of EGFR-targeted therapy and predicts improved prognosis, revealing a previously undiscovered connection between EGFR-targeted therapy and DR4 modulation.
    Keywords:  EGFR inhibitors; acquired resistance; apoptosis; death receptor 4; osimertinib
  18. EMBO Mol Med. 2021 Mar 04. e13349
      Wnt signaling maintains diverse adult stem cell compartments and is implicated in chemotherapy resistance in cancer. PORCN inhibitors that block Wnt secretion have proven effective in Wnt-addicted preclinical cancer models and are in clinical trials. In a survey for potential combination therapies, we found that Wnt inhibition synergizes with the PARP inhibitor olaparib in Wnt-addicted cancers. Mechanistically, we find that multiple genes in the homologous recombination and Fanconi anemia repair pathways, including BRCA1, FANCD2, and RAD51, are dependent on Wnt/β-catenin signaling in Wnt-high cancers, and treatment with a PORCN inhibitor creates a BRCA-like state. This coherent regulation of DNA repair genes occurs in part via a Wnt/β-catenin/MYBL2 axis. Importantly, this pathway also functions in intestinal crypts, where high expression of BRCA and Fanconi anemia genes is seen in intestinal stem cells, with further upregulation in Wnt-high APCmin mutant polyps. Our findings suggest a general paradigm that Wnt/β-catenin signaling enhances DNA repair in stem cells and cancers to maintain genomic integrity. Conversely, interventions that block Wnt signaling may sensitize cancers to radiation and other DNA damaging agents.
    Keywords:  BRCA1; DNA repair; ETC-1922159; FANCD2; homologous recombination
  19. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Feb 22. pii: 918. [Epub ahead of print]13(4):
      The cancer stem cell hypothesis poses that the bulk of differentiated cells are non-tumorigenic and only a subset of cells with self-renewal capabilities drive tumor initiation and progression. This means that differentiation could have a tumor-suppressive effect. Accumulating evidence shows, however, that in some solid tumors, like colorectal cancer, such a hierarchical organization is necessary. The identification of Lgr5 as a reliable marker of normal intestinal epithelial stem cells, together with strategies to trace cell lineages within tumors and the possibility to selectively ablate these cells, have proven the relevance of Lgr5+ cells for cancer progression. On the contrary, the role of Lgr5- cells during this process remains largely unknown. In this review, we explore available evidence pointing towards possible selective advantages of cancer cells organized hierarchically and its resulting cell heterogeneity. Clear evidence of plasticity between cell states, in which loss of Lgr5+ cells can be replenished by dedifferentiation of Lgr5- cells, shows that cell hierarchies could grant adaptive traits to tumors upon changing selective pressures, including those derived from anticancer therapy, as well as during tumor progression to metastasis.
    Keywords:  cancer stem cell markers; cancer stem cells; clonal cooperation; colorectal cancer; lineage tracing; plasticity; radio-resistance; serial transplantation; therapeutic resistance; tumor heterogeneity; tumor-organoids
  20. Oncogene. 2021 Mar 05.
      Metabolic deregulation, a hallmark of cancer, fuels cancer cell growth and metastasis. Here, we show that phosphoserine phosphatase (PSPH), an enzyme of the serine metabolism pathway, is upregulated in patient-derived melanoma samples. PSPH knockdown using short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) blocks melanoma tumor growth and metastasis in both cell culture and mice. To elucidate the mechanism underlying PSPH action, we evaluated PSPH shRNA-expressing melanoma cells using global metabolomics and targeted mRNA expression profiling. Metabolomics analysis showed an increase in 2-hydroxyglutarate (2-HG) levels in PSPH knockdown cells. 2-HG inhibits the TET family of DNA demethylases and the Jumonji family of histone demethylases (KDM and JMJD), which is known to impact gene expression. Consistent with these data, PSPH knockdown in melanoma cells showed reduced DNA 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) and increased histone H3K4me3 modifications. 2-HG treatment also inhibited melanoma growth. The nCounter PanCancer Pathways Panel-based mRNA expression profiling revealed attenuation of a number of cancer-promoting pathways upon PSPH knockdown. In particular, PSPH was necessary for nuclear receptor NR4A1 expression. Ectopic NR4A1 expression partly rescued the growth of melanoma cells expressing PSPH shRNA. Collectively, these results link PSPH to the facilitation of melanoma growth and metastasis through suppression of 2-HG and thus activation of pro-oncogenic gene expression.
  21. Mol Cancer. 2021 03 01. 20(1): 43
      BACKGROUND: Chemotherapeutic resistance is the main cause of clinical treatment failure and poor prognosis in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). There is no research on chemotherapeutic resistance in TNBC from the perspective of circular RNAs (circRNAs).METHODS: TNBC-related circRNAs were identified based on the GSE101124 dataset. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR was used to detect the expression level of circWAC in TNBC cells and tissues. Then, in vitro and in vivo functional experiments were performed to evaluate the effects of circWAC in TNBC.
    RESULTS: CircWAC was highly expressed in TNBC and was associated with worse TNBC patient prognosis. Subsequently, it was verified that downregulation of circWAC can increase the sensitivity of TNBC cells to paclitaxel (PTX) in vitro and in vivo. The expression of miR-142 was negatively correlated with circWAC in TNBC. The interaction between circWAC and miR-142 in TNBC cells was confirmed by RNA immunoprecipitation assays, luciferase reporter assays, pulldown assays, and fluorescence in situ hybridization. Mechanistically, circWAC acted as a miR-142 sponge to relieve the repressive effect of miR-142 on its target WWP1. In addition, the overall survival of TNBC patients with high expression of miR-142 was significantly better than that of patients with low expression of miR-142, and these results were verified in public databases. MiR-142 regulated the expression of WWP1 and the activity of the PI3K/AKT pathway. It was confirmed that WWP1 is highly expressed in TNBC and that the prognosis of patients with high WWP1 expression is poor.
    CONCLUSIONS: CircWAC/miR-142/WWP1 form a competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA) network to regulate PI3K/AKT signaling activity in TNBC cells and affect the chemosensitivity of cells.
    Keywords:  PI3K/AKT; TNBC; WWP1; circWAC; miR-142
  22. Cancer Discov. 2021 Mar 05.
      Cancer cells varied in metastatic potential before xenotransplantation; these differences were heritable.
  23. Oncogene. 2021 Mar 02.
      Lymph node metastasis (LNM), a common metastatic gastric-cancer (GC) route, is closely related to poor prognosis in GC patients. Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) preferentially engraft at metastatic lesions. Whether BM-MSCs are specifically reprogrammed by LNM-derived GC cells (LNM-GCs) and incorporated into metastatic LN microenvironment to prompt GC malignant progression remains unknown. Herein, we found that LNM-GCs specifically educated BM-MSCs via secretory exosomes. Exosomal Wnt5a was identified as key protein mediating LNM-GCs education of BM-MSCs, which was verified by analysis of serum exosomes collected from GC patients with LNM. Wnt5a-enriched exosomes induced YAP dephosphorylation in BM-MSCs, whereas Wnt5a-deficient exosomes exerted the opposite effect. Inhibition of YAP signaling by verteporfin blocked LNM-GC exosome- and serum exosome-mediated reprogramming in BM-MSCs. Analysis of MSC-like cells obtained from metastatic LN tissues of GC patients (GLN-MSCs) confirmed that BM-MSCs incorporated into metastatic LN microenvironment, and that YAP activation participated in maintaining their tumor-promoting phenotype and function. Collectively, our results show that LNM-GCs specifically educated BM-MSCs via exosomal Wnt5a-elicited activation of YAP signaling. This study provides new insights into the mechanisms of LNM in GC and BM-MSC reprogramming, and will provide potential therapeutic targets and detection indicators for GC patients with LNM.
  24. Cancer Discov. 2021 Mar 02. pii: candisc.0119.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Although pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells are exposed to a nutrient-depleted tumor microenvironment, they can acquire nutrients via macropinocytosis, an endocytic form of protein scavenging that functions to support cancer metabolism. Here, we provide evidence that macropinocytosis is operational in the pancreatic tumor stroma. We find that glutamine deficiency triggers macropinocytic uptake in pancreatic cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). Mechanistically, we decipher that stromal macropinocytosis is potentiated via the enhancement of cytosolic Ca2+ and dependent on ARHGEF2 and CaMKK2-AMPK signaling. We elucidate that macropinocytosis has dual function in CAFs - it serves as a source of intracellular amino acids that sustain CAF cell fitness and function, and it provides secreted amino acids that promote tumor cell survival. Importantly, we demonstrate that stromal macropinocytosis supports PDAC tumor growth. These results highlight the functional role of macropinocytosis in the tumor stroma and provide a mechanistic understanding of how nutrient deficiency can control stromal protein scavenging.
  25. Clin Cancer Res. 2021 Mar 05. pii: clincanres.3975.2019. [Epub ahead of print]
      PURPOSE: Gemcitabine is most commonly used for pancreatic cancer (PC). However, the molecular features and mechanisms of the frequently occurred resistance remain unclear. This work aims at exploring the molecular features of gemcitabine resistance and identifying candidate biomarkers and combinatorial targets for the treatment.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: In present study, we established 66 patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) based on clinical PC specimens and treated them with gemcitabine. We generated multi-omics data (including whole exome-seq, RNA-seq, miRNA-seq and DNA methylation array) of 15 drug sensitive and 13 resistant PDXs before and after the gemcitabine treatment. We performed integrative computational analysis to identify the molecular networks related to gemcitabine intrinsic and required resistance. Then, shRNA-based high-content screening was implemented to validate the function of the de-regulated genes.
    RESULTS: The comprehensive multi-omics analysis and functional experiment revealed that MRPS5 and GSPT1 had strong effects on cell proliferation, and CD55 and DHTKD1 contributed to gemcitabine resistance in PC cells. Moreover, we found miR-135a-5p was significantly associated with the prognosis of PC patients and could be a candidate biomarker to predict gemcitabine response. Comparing the molecular features before and after the treatment, we found that PI3K-Akt, p53, HIF-1 pathways were significantly altered in multiple patients, providing candidate target pathways for reducing the acquired resistance.
    CONCLUSIONS: This integrative genomic study systematically investigated the predictive markers and molecular mechanisms of chemoresistance in PC and provide potential therapy targets for overcoming gemcitabine resistance.
  26. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Feb 15. pii: 810. [Epub ahead of print]13(4):
      Advanced metastatic cancer is rarely curable. While immunotherapy has changed the oncological landscape profoundly, cure in metastatic disease remains the exception. Tumor blood vessels are crucial regulators of tumor perfusion, immune cell influx and metastatic dissemination. Indeed, vascular hyperpermeability is a key feature of primary tumors, the pre-metastatic niche in host tissue and overt metastases at secondary sites. Combining anti-angiogenesis and immune therapies may therefore unlock synergistic effects by inducing a stabilized vascular network permissive for effector T cell trafficking and function. However, anti-angiogenesis therapies, as currently applied, are hampered by intrinsic or adaptive resistance mechanisms at primary and distant tumor sites. In particular, heterogeneous vascular and immune environments which can arise in metastatic lesions of the same individual pose significant challenges for currently approved drugs. Thus, more consideration needs to be given to tailoring new combinations of vascular and immunotherapies, including dosage and timing regimens to specific disease microenvironments.
    Keywords:  angiogenesis; immunotherapy; metastasis; tertiary lymphoid structures; vessel co-option; vessel normalization
  27. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(8): 3868-3881
      Rationale: Osteosarcoma (OS), the most common type of bone tumor, which seriously affects the patients' limb function and life quality. OS has a strong tendency of lung metastasis, and the five-year survival rate of patients with metastatic osteosarcoma is less than 20%. Thus, new treatment targets and strategies are urgently needed. Methods: The expression of the histone demethylase KDM6B and H3K27me3 levels in OS specimens were analyzed using quantitative PCR and immunohistochemical assays. The biological functions of KDM6B were determined using in vitro transwell, wound healing assays, and an in vivo orthotopic injection-induced lung metastasis model. Subsequently, chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) combined with transcriptomic RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), and subsequent ChIP-qPCR, western blot, and aerobic glycolysis assays were used to explore the mechanism of KDM6B function and validate the candidate target gene of KDM6B. Results: KDM6B expression was significantly upregulated in OS patients, and high KDM6B expression was associated with poorer prognosis in OS patients. Targeting KDM6B significantly inhibited OS cell migration in vitro and lung metastasis in vivo. RNA-seq and ChIP-seq analysis revealed that KDM6B increases lactate dehydrogenase LDHA expression in OS cells by directly mediating H3K27me3 demethylation. The phenotypes of inhibited cell metastasis in KDM6B-knockdown OS cells was reversed upon overexpression of LDHA. Finally, a small molecule inhibitor targeting KDM6B significantly inhibited OS cell migration in vitro and lung metastasis in vivo. Conclusions: Collectively, we elucidated that upregulated KDM6B facilitates tumor metastasis in OS via modulating LDHA expression. Our findings deepen the recognition of OS metastasis mechanism and suggest that KDM6B might be a new potential therapeutic target for the treatment of OS (especially highly metastatic OS).
    Keywords:  H3K27me3 demethylation; KDM6B; LDHA.; Lung metastasis; Osteosarcoma
  28. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(8): 3742-3759
      Background: Protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) is a type II arginine methyltransferase that symmetrically di-methylates arginine residues on both histone and non-histone protein substrates. Accumulating evidence suggests that PRMT5 exerts its oncogenic properties in a wide spectrum of human malignancies. However, the underlying mechanisms by which PRMT5 contributes to the progression of colorectal cancer (CRC) remain to be defined. Methods: Western blot and real-time PCR were used to analyze the expression of CDKN2B. Co-immunoprecipitation (Co-IP), immunofluorescence and GST pulldown assays were employed to investigate the interaction between PRMT5 and EZH2. Luciferase reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays were performed to validate CDKN2B as a direct target of PRMT5/EZH2. DNA methylation status at the CpG islands of promoter region of CDKN2B gene was analyzed by bisulfite sequencing. The effect of PRMT5/EZH2 on malignant phenotypes was examined through in vitro and in vivo assays. PRMT5 and EZH2 protein expression levels in CRC tissues were analyzed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) staining. Results: We observed that PRMT5-deficient CRC cells exhibit proliferation defects in vitro. PRMT5 was identified as a major transcriptional repressor of CDKN2B (p15INK4b) for determining CRC progression. Mechanistically, PRMT5-mediated histone marks H4R3me2s and H3R8me2s were predominantly deposited at the promoter region of CDKN2B gene in CRC cells. Knockdown of PRMT5 in CRC cells decreased the accumulation of H4R3me2s and H3R8me2s marks and reduced the CpG methylation level of CDKN2B promoter, then re-activated CDKN2B expression. Strikingly, silencing of CDKN2B partially abrogated the proliferation defects caused by PRMT5 depletion in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, we proved that PRMT5 interacted with Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2), leading to enhanced EZH2 binding and H3K27me3 deposition together with decreased transcriptional output of CDKN2B gene. Importantly, we found that the combined interventions exerted a synergistic inhibitory effect of combined treatment with PRMT5i (GSK591) and EZH2i (GSK126) on the growth of CRC cells/xenografts in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, PRMT5 and EZH2 were found to be significantly elevated and associated with poor prognosis in CRC patients. Conclusion: PRMT5 functionally associates with EZH2 to promote CRC progression through epigenetically repressing CDKN2B expression. Thus, our findings raise the possibility that combinational intervention of PRMT5 and EZH2 may be a promising strategy for CRC therapy.
    Keywords:  CDKN2B; CRC; EZH2; PRMT5; Proliferation
  29. Cell. 2021 Mar 04. pii: S0092-8674(21)00170-7. [Epub ahead of print]184(5): 1142-1155
      The characterization of cancer genomes has provided insight into somatically altered genes across tumors, transformed our understanding of cancer biology, and enabled tailoring of therapeutic strategies. However, the function of most cancer alleles remains mysterious, and many cancer features transcend their genomes. Consequently, tumor genomic characterization does not influence therapy for most patients. Approaches to understand the function and circuitry of cancer genes provide complementary approaches to elucidate both oncogene and non-oncogene dependencies. Emerging work indicates that the diversity of therapeutic targets engendered by non-oncogene dependencies is much larger than the list of recurrently mutated genes. Here we describe a framework for this expanded list of cancer targets, providing novel opportunities for clinical translation.
  30. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Feb 16. pii: 815. [Epub ahead of print]13(4):
      This series of 12 articles, consisting of 9 original articles and 3 reviews, is presented by international leaders in translational cancer research [...].
    Keywords:  metastasis; organoids; patient-derived xenograft (PDX); thin-cut tissue slices; tumor biology; tumor immunology; tumor microenvironment
  31. STAR Protoc. 2021 Mar 19. 2(1): 100345
      Robust patient-derived platforms that recapitulate the cellular and molecular fingerprints of glioblastoma are crucial for developing effective therapies. Here, we describe a chemically defined protocol for 3D culture and propagation of glioblastoma in 3D gliospheres, patient-derived organoids (PDOs), mouse brain orthotopic xenografts (PDOXs), and downstream drug and immunofluorescence assays. This simple-to-follow protocol allows assessing drug sensitivity, on-target activity, and combined drug synergy. Promising therapies can then be validated in PDOXs for translation in precision medicine oncology trials. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Chadwick et al. (2020) and Patrizii et al. (2018).
    Keywords:  Organoids; PDX; combination therapy; drug synergy; glioblastoma; o; orthotopic patient derived xenografts; patient derived organoids; precision medicine
  32. Oncogene. 2021 Mar 05.
      Gastric cancer (GC) is one of the most common malignant neoplasms. Invasion and metastasis are the main causes of GC-related deaths. Recently, kinesins were discovered to be involved in tumor development. The aim of this study was to elucidate the roles of kinesin superfamily protein 26A (KIF26A) in GC and its underlying molecular mechanism in regulating tumor invasion and metastasis. Using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and immunohistochemistry (IHC), we showed that KIF26A expression was lower in GC tissues without lymph node metastasis (LNM) than in nontumorous gastric mucosa, and even lower in GC tissues with LNM than in GC tissues without LNM. Functional experiments showed that KIF26A inhibited migration and invasion of GC cells. We further identified focal-adhesion kinase (FAK), phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase regulatory subunit alpha (PI3KR1), VAV3, Rac1 and p21-activated kinase 2, and β-PAK (PAK3) as downstream effectors of KIF26A in the focal-adhesion pathway, and we found that KIF26A could regulate FAK mRNA expression through inhibiting c-MYC by MAPK pathway. c-MYC could bind to the promoter of FAK and activate FAK transcription. Moreover, we found that KIF26A-mediated inactivation of the focal-adhesion pathway could reduce the occurrence of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) by increasing expression of E-cadherin and reducing that of Snail. Luciferase assays and Western blotting revealed that miR-19a and miR-96 negatively regulate KIF26A. Finally, we found that decreased expression of KIF26A has been positively correlated with histological differentiation, Lauren classification, LNM, distal metastasis, and clinical stage, as well as poor survival in patients with GC. These data indicate that KIF26A could inhibit GC migration and invasion by regulating the focal-adhesion pathway and repressing the occurrence of EMT.
  33. Cell Stem Cell. 2021 Mar 04. pii: S1934-5909(21)00067-9. [Epub ahead of print]28(3): 374-377
      The depth of quiescence in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) dictates their potency and is sensitive to metabolic perturbations. Recent evidence suggests that lysosomal functions distinct from autophagic processes are pivotal in regulating quiescence versus activation by potential control of the access to a nutrient reservoir required for HSC activation.
  34. Nat Commun. 2021 03 02. 12(1): 1375
      Cellular adaptation to hypoxia is a hallmark of cancer, but the relative contribution of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) versus other oxygen sensors to tumorigenesis is unclear. We employ a multi-omics pipeline including measurements of nascent RNA to characterize transcriptional changes upon acute hypoxia. We identify an immediate early transcriptional response that is strongly dependent on HIF1A and the kinase activity of its cofactor CDK8, includes indirect repression of MYC targets, and is highly conserved across cancer types. HIF1A drives this acute response via conserved high-occupancy enhancers. Genetic screen data indicates that, in normoxia, HIF1A displays strong cell-autonomous tumor suppressive effects through a gene module mediating mTOR inhibition. Conversely, in advanced malignancies, expression of a module of HIF1A targets involved in collagen remodeling is associated with poor prognosis across diverse cancer types. In this work, we provide a valuable resource for investigating context-dependent roles of HIF1A and its targets in cancer biology.