bims-tucedo Biomed News
on Tumor cell dormancy
Issue of 2021‒05‒02
23 papers selected by
Isabel Puig Borreil
Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology

  1. J Clin Invest. 2021 Apr 29. pii: 143691. [Epub ahead of print]
      Hypoxia is a hallmark of solid tumors that promotes cell growth, survival, metastasis and confers resistance to chemo and radiotherapies. Hypoxic responses are largely mediated by the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α and HIF-2α. Our work demonstrates that HIF-2α is essential for colorectal cancer (CRC) progression. However, targeting hypoxic cells is difficult and tumors rapidly acquire resistance to recently developed inhibitors of HIF-2α. To overcome this limitation, we performed a small molecule screen to identify HIF-2α dependent vulnerabilities. Several known ferroptosis activators and dimethyl fumarate (DMF), a cell permeable mitochondrial metabolite derivative, led to selective synthetic lethality in HIF-2α expressing tumor enteroids. Our work demonstrates that HIF-2α integrates two independent forms of cell death via regulation of cellular iron and oxidation. First, activation of HIF-2α upreguated lipid and iron regulatory genes in colon cancer cells and colon tumors in mice and led to a ferroptosis-susceptible cell state. Secondly, via an iron dependent, lipid peroxidation-independent pathway, HIF-2α activation potentiated ROS, via irreversible cysteine oxidation and enhanced cell death. Inhibition or knockdown of HIF-2α decreased ROS and resistance to oxidative cell death in vitro and in vivo. Our results demonstrate a mechanistic vulnerability in cancer cells that were the dependent on HIF-2α that can be leveraged for colon cancer treatment.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Cell stress; Hypoxia; Metabolism; Oncology
  2. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(12): 5686-5699
      Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is currently the third leading cause for cancer-related mortality. Cancer stem cells have been implicated in colorectal tumor growth, but their specific role in tumor biology, including metastasis, is still uncertain. Methods: Increased expression of L1CAM, CXCR4 and NODAL was identified in tumor section of patients with CRC and in patients-derived-organoids (PDOs). The expression of L1CAM, CXCR4 and NODAL was evaluated using quantitative real-time PCR, western blotting, immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry. The effects of the L1CAM, CXCR4 and NODAL on tumor growth, proliferation, migration, invasion, colony-formation ability, metastasis and chemoresistance were investigated both in vitro and in vivo. Results: We found that human colorectal cancer tissue contains cancer stem cells defined by L1CAMhigh/CXCR4high expression that is activated by Nodal in hypoxic microenvironment. This L1CAMhigh/CXCR4high population is tumorigenic, highly resistant to standard chemotherapy, and determines the metastatic phenotype of the individual tumor. Depletion of the L1CAMhigh/CXCR4high population drastically reduces the tumorigenic potential and the metastatic phenotype of colorectal tumors. Conclusion: In conclusion, we demonstrated that a subpopulation of migrating L1CAMhigh/CXCR4high is essential for tumor progression. Together, these findings suggest that strategies aimed at modulating the Nodal signaling could have important clinical applications to inhibit colorectal cancer-derived metastasis.
    Keywords:  CD171); colorectal cancer (CRC), organoids, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β signaling, L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM
  3. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(12): 5794-5812
      Rationale: Resistance to androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT) associated with metastatic progression remains a challenging clinical task in prostate cancer (PCa) treatment. Current targeted therapies for castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) are not durable. The exact molecular mechanisms mediating resistance to castration therapy that lead to CRPC progression remain obscure. Methods: The expression of MYB proto-oncogene like 2 (MYBL2) was evaluated in PCa samples. The effect of MYBL2 on the response to ADT was determined by in vitro and in vivo experiments. The survival of patients with PCa was analyzed using clinical specimens (n = 132) and data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (n = 450). The mechanistic model of MYBL2 in regulating gene expression was further detected by subcellular fractionation, western blotting, quantitative real-time PCR, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and luciferase reporter assays. Results: MYBL2 expression was significantly upregulated in CRPC tissues and cell lines. Overexpression of MYBL2 could facilitate castration-resistant growth and metastatic capacity in androgen-dependent PCa cells by promoting YAP1 transcriptional activity via modulating the activity of the Rho GTPases RhoA and LATS1 kinase. Importantly, targeting MYBL2, or treatment with either the YAP/TAZ inhibitor Verteporfin or the RhoA inhibitor Simvastatin, reversed the resistance to ADT and blocked bone metastasis in CRPC cells. Finally, high MYBL2 levels were positively associated with TNM stage, total PSA level, and Gleason score and predicted a higher risk of metastatic relapse and poor prognosis in patients with PCa. Conclusions: Our results reveal a novel molecular mechanism conferring resistance to ADT and provide a strong rationale for potential therapeutic strategies against CRPC.
    Keywords:  Castration resistance; Hippo-YAP pathway; MYBL2.; Prostate cancer; RhoA activation
  4. Cancer Res. 2021 Apr 26. pii: canres.CAN-20-4263-E.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Activating mutations in some isoforms of Ras or Raf are drivers of a substantial proportion of cancers. The main Raf effector, Mek1/2, can be targeted with several highly specific inhibitors. The clinical activity of these inhibitors seems to be mixed, showing efficacy against mutant BRAF-driven tumors but not K-Ras-driven tumors, such as pancreatic adenocarcinomas. To improve our understanding of this context-dependent efficacy, we generated pancreatic cancer cells resistant to Mek1/2 inhibition, which were also resistant to KRAS and Erk1/2 inhibitors. Compared to parental cells, inhibitor-resistant cells showed several phenotypic changes including increased metastatic ability in vivo. The transcription factor Slug, which is known to induce epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), was identified as the key factor responsible for both resistance to Mek1/2 inhibition and increased metastasis. Slug, but not similar transcription factors, predicted poor prognosis of pancreatic cancer patients and induced the transition to a cellular phenotype in which cell cycle progression becomes independent of the KRAS-Raf-Mek1/2-Erk1/2 pathway. Slug was targeted using two independent strategies: i) inhibition of the Mek5-Erk5 pathway, which is responsible for upregulation of Slug upon Mek1/2 inhibition, and ii) direct PROTAC-mediated degradation. Both strategies were efficacious in preclinical pancreatic cancer models, paving the path for the development of more effective therapies against pancreatic cancer.
  5. Nat Cancer. 2021 Mar;2(3): 258-270
      The systemic spread of tumor cells is the ultimate cause of the majority of deaths from cancer, yet few successful therapeutic strategies have emerged to specifically target metastasis. Here we discuss recent advances in our understanding of tumor-intrinsic pathways driving metastatic colonization and therapeutic resistance, as well as immune activating strategies to target metastatic disease. We focus on therapeutically exploitable mechanisms, promising strategies in preclinical and clinical development, and emerging areas with potential to become innovative treatments.
  6. Cancer Cell. 2021 Apr 13. pii: S1535-6108(21)00170-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) are a poorly characterized cell population in the context of liver cancer. Our study investigates CAF functions in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC), a highly desmoplastic liver tumor. Genetic tracing, single-cell RNA sequencing, and ligand-receptor analyses uncovered hepatic stellate cells (HSC) as the main source of CAF and HSC-derived CAF as the dominant population interacting with tumor cells. In mice, CAF promotes ICC progression, as revealed by HSC-selective CAF depletion. In patients, a high panCAF signature is associated with decreased survival and increased recurrence. Single-cell RNA sequencing segregates CAF into inflammatory and growth factor-enriched (iCAF) and myofibroblastic (myCAF) subpopulations, displaying distinct ligand-receptor interactions. myCAF-expressed hyaluronan synthase 2, but not type I collagen, promotes ICC. iCAF-expressed hepatocyte growth factor enhances ICC growth via tumor-expressed MET, thus directly linking CAF to tumor cells. In summary, our data demonstrate promotion of desmoplastic ICC growth by therapeutically targetable CAF subtype-specific mediators, but not by type I collagen.
    Keywords:  CellPhoneDB; HGF; KRAS; YAP; cholangiocarcinoma; immune; mechanosensitive; single cell; stiffness; tumor microenvironment
  7. Nat Immunol. 2021 Apr 26.
      Although the pathological significance of tumor-associated macrophage (TAM) heterogeneity is still poorly understood, TAM reprogramming is viewed as a promising anticancer therapy. Here we show that a distinct subset of TAMs (F4/80hiCD115hiC3aRhiCD88hi), endowed with high rates of heme catabolism by the stress-responsive enzyme heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), plays a critical role in shaping a prometastatic tumor microenvironment favoring immunosuppression, angiogenesis and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. This population originates from F4/80+HO-1+ bone marrow (BM) precursors, accumulates in the blood of tumor bearers and preferentially localizes at the invasive margin through a mechanism dependent on the activation of Nrf2 and coordinated by the NF-κB1-CSF1R-C3aR axis. Inhibition of F4/80+HO-1+ TAM recruitment or myeloid-specific deletion of HO-1 blocks metastasis formation and improves anticancer immunotherapy. Relative expression of HO-1 in peripheral monocyte subsets, as well as in tumor lesions, discriminates survival among metastatic melanoma patients. Overall, these results identify a distinct cancer-induced HO-1+ myeloid subgroup as a new antimetastatic target and prognostic blood marker.
  8. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(12): 5759-5777
      Background: Since metastasis remains the main reason for HCC-associated death, a better understanding of molecular mechanism underlying HCC metastasis is urgently needed. Here, we elucidated the role of Homeobox B5 (HOXB5), a member of the HOX transcriptional factor family, in promoting HCC metastasis. Method: The expression of HOXB5 and its functional targets fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 (FGFR4) and C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 1 (CXCL1) were detected by immunohistochemistry. Luciferase reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays were performed to measure the transcriptional regulation of target genes by HOXB5. The effects of FGFR4 and CXCL1 on HOXB5-mediated metastasis were analyzed by an orthotopic metastasis model. Results: Elevated expression of HOXB5 had a positive correlation with poor tumour differentiation, higher TNM stage, and indicated unfavorable prognosis. Overexpression of HOXB5 promoted HCC metastasis through transactivating FGFR4 and CXCL1 expression, whereas knockdown of FGFR4 and CXCL1 decreased HOXB5-enhanced HCC metastasis. Moreover, HOXB5 overexpression in HCC cells promoted myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) infiltration through CXCL1/CXCR2 axis. Either depletion of MDSCs by anti-Gr1 or blocking CXCL1-CXCR2 axis by CXCR2 inhibitor impaired HOXB5-mediated HCC metastasis. In addition, fibroblast growth factor 19 (FGF19) contributed to the HOXB5 upregulation through PI3K/AKT/HIF1α pathway. Overexpression of FGF15 (an analog of FGF19 in mouse) promoted HCC metastasis, whereas knockdown of HOXB5 significantly inhibited FGF15-enhanced HCC metastasis in immunocompetent mice. HOXB5 expression was positively associated with CXCL1 expression and intratumoral MDSCs accumulation in human HCC tissues. Patients who co-expressed HOXB5/CXCL1 or HOXB5/CD11b exhibited the worst prognosis. Furthermore, the combination of FGFR4 inhibitor BLU-554 and CXCR2 inhibitor SB265610 dramatically decreased HOXB5-mediated HCC metastasis. Conclusion: HOXB5 was a potential prognostic biomarker in HCC patients and targeting this loop may provide a promising treatment strategy for the inhibition of HOXB5-mediated HCC metastasis.
    Keywords:  BLU-554; C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 1; SB265610; homeobox B5; myeloidderived suppressor cell
  9. Cancer Discov. 2021 Apr 30.
      The bone microenvironment induced metastatic cancer cells to further disseminate to other organs.
  10. Mol Ther. 2021 Apr 24. pii: S1525-0016(21)00216-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Oxaliplatin resistance is a challenge in the treatment of colorectal cancer patients. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are well known for their immunosuppressive roles and targeting Tregs is an effective way to improve chemosensitivity. Exosome delivered miRNA might be used as a potential biomarker for predicting the chemosensitivity. However, the relationship between Tregs and exosomal miRNAs remain largely unknown. A mouse xenograft model was adopted to evaluate the correlation between exosome-derived miR-208b and Tregs in vivo. We demonstrated that circulating miR-208b is a non-invasive marker for predicting FOLFOX sensitivity in colorectal cancer. miR-208b in the colon cancer was secreted by the tumor cells in the pattern of exosomes, and oxaliplatin resistant cells showed the most obvious phenomenon of miR-208b increase. Colon cancer cells-secreted miR-208b was sufficiently delivered into recipient T cells to promote Tregs expansion by targeting programmed cell death factor 4 (PDCD4). Furthermore, in vivo studies indicated that Tregs expansion mediated by cancer cell-secreted miR-208b resulted in tumor growth and oxaliplatin resistance. Our results demonstrate that tumor-secreted miR-208b promotes Tregs expansion by targeting PDCD4 and it may be related to decrease of oxaliplatin-based chemosensitivity in CRC.
    Keywords:  Exosomes; PDCD4; Tregs; miR-208b; oxaliplatin resistance
  11. Cancer Res. 2021 Apr 28. pii: canres.3320.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Extracellular vesicles (EV) in the tumor microenvironment have emerged as crucial mediators that promote proliferation, metastasis, and chemoresistance. However, the role of circulating small EVs (csEV) in cancer progression remains poorly understood. In this study, we report that csEV facilitates cancer progression and determine its molecular mechanism. csEV strongly promoted the migration of cancer cells via interaction with phosphatidylserine of csEV. Among the three TAM receptors TYRO3, AXL, and MerTK, TYRO3 mainly interacted with csEV. csEV-mediated TYRO3 activation promoted migration and metastasis via the epithelial-mesenchymal transition and stimulation of RhoA in invasive cancer cells. Additionally, csEV-TYRO3 interaction induced YAP activation, which led to increased cell proliferation and chemoresistance. Combination treatment with gefitinib and KRCT-6j, a selective TYRO3 inhibitor, significantly reduced tumor volume in xenografts implanted with gefitinib-resistant non-small cell lung cancer cells. The results of this study show that TYRO3 activation by csEV facilitates cancer cell migration and chemoresistance by activation of RhoA or YAP, indicating that the csEV/TYRO3 interaction may serve as a potential therapeutic target for aggressive cancers in the clinic.
  12. Cancer Discov. 2021 Apr 28. pii: candisc.1637.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (PanNETs) comprise two molecular subtypes, relatively benign islet tumors (IT) and invasive, metastasis-like primary (MLP) tumors. Hitherto, the origin of aggressive MLP tumors has been obscure. Herein, using multi-omics approaches, we revealed that MLP tumors arise from IT via dedifferentiation following a reverse trajectory along the developmental pathway of islet B-cells, which results in the acquisition of a progenitor-like molecular phenotype. Functionally, the microRNA-181cd cluster induces the IT-to-MLP transition by suppressing expression of the Meis2 transcription factor, leading to upregulation of a developmental transcription factor, Hmgb3. Notably, the IT-to-MLP transition constitutes a distinct step of tumorigenesis and is separable from the classical proliferation-associated hallmark, temporally preceding accelerated proliferation of cancer cells. Furthermore, PanNET patients with elevated HMGB3 expression and an MLP transcriptional signature are associated with higher-grade tumors and worse survival. Overall, our results unveil a new mechanism that modulates cancer cell plasticity to enable malignant progression.
  13. Oncogene. 2021 Apr 29.
      Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) is a vital regulator of tumor metastasis. However, the mechanisms governing OXPHOS to facilitate tumor metastasis remain unclear. In this study, we discovered that arginine 21(R21) and lysine 108 (K108) of mitochondrial ribosomal protein S23 (MRPS23) was methylated by the protein arginine methyltransferase 7 (PRMT7) and SET-domain-containing protein 6 (SETD6), respectively. R21 methylation accelerated the poly-ubiquitin-dependent degradation of MRPS23 to a low level. The MRPS23 degradation inhibited OXPHOS with elevated mtROS level, which consequently increased breast cancer cell invasion and metastasis. In contrast, K108 methylation increased MRPS23 stability, and K108 methylation coordinated with R21 methylation to maintain a low level of MRPS23, which was in favor of supporting breast cancer cell survival through regulating OXPHOS. Consistently, R21 and K108 methylation was correlated with malignant breast carcinoma. Significantly, our findings unveil a unique mechanism of controlling OXPHOS by arginine and lysine methylation and point to the impact of the PRMT7-SETD6-MRPS23 axis during breast cancer metastasis.
  14. Cell Metab. 2021 Apr 22. pii: S1550-4131(21)00168-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      Altered tissue mechanics and metabolism are defining characteristics of cancer that impact not only proliferation but also migration. While migrating through a mechanically and spatially heterogeneous microenvironment, changes in metabolism allow cells to dynamically tune energy generation and bioenergetics in response to fluctuating energy needs. Physical cues from the extracellular matrix influence mechanosignaling pathways, cell mechanics, and cytoskeletal architecture to alter presentation and function of metabolic enzymes. In cancer, altered mechanosensing and metabolic reprogramming supports metabolic plasticity and high energy production while cells migrate and metastasize. Here, we discuss the role of mechanoresponsive metabolism in regulating cell migration and supporting metastasis as well as the potential of therapeutically targeting cancer metabolism to block motility and potentially metastasis.
    Keywords:  bioenergetics; cancer invasion; energy metabolism; mechanotransduction; tumor microenvironment
  15. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(12): 6006-6018
      Objectives: Sorafenib is the only FDA-approved first-line target drug for HCC patients. However, sorafenib merely confers 3-5 months of survival benefit with less than 30% of HCC patients sensitive to sorafenib therapy. Thus, it's necessary to develop a sensitizer for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) to sorafenib. Methods: The principal component analysis, gene ontology, and KEGG analysis are utilized following RNA-sequencing. The mass spectrometry analysis following immunoprecipitation is performed to discover the phosphatase targets. Most importantly, both the cell line-derived xenograft (CDX) and the patient-derived xenograft (PDX) mouse model are used to determine the effect of 3-HAA on sorafenib-resistant HCC in vivo. Results: In nude mice carrying HCC xenograft, tumor growth is inhibited by sorafenib or 3-HAA alone. When used in combination, the treatment particularly prevents the xenograft from growing. Combined treatment also suppresses the growth of sorafenib-resistant (≥30mg/kg) PDXs. In a set of mechanistic experiments, we find enhanced AKT activation and decreased apoptotic cells in de novo and acquired sorafenib-resistant HCC cells and tissues. 3-HAA decreases AKT phosphorylation and increases the apoptosis of HCC in both cultured cells and mouse xenografts by upregulation of phosphatases PPP1R15A/DUSP6. PPP1R15A/PPP1α directly reduces Akt phosphorylation while DUSP6 decreases Akt activity through inhibiting PDK1. The AKT activator abolishes 3-HAA inhibition of HCC growth in vitro and in mice. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that 3-HAA sensitizes HCC cells to sorafenib by upregulation of phosphatases, suggesting it as a promising molecule for HCC therapy.
    Keywords:  3-hydroxyanthranilc acid; AKT; DUSP6; PPP1R15A.; sorafenib resistance
  16. J Clin Invest. 2021 Apr 27. pii: 146987. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) may exert tumor-promoting and tumor-suppressive functions, but the mechanisms underlying these opposing effects remain elusive. Here, we sought to understand these potentially opposing functions by interrogating functional relationships between CAF subtypes, their mediators, desmoplasia and tumor growth in wide range of tumor types metastasizing to the liver, the most common organ site for metastasis. Depletion of hepatic stellate cells (HSC), which represented main source of CAF in mice and patients in our study, or depletion of all CAF decreased tumor growth and mortality in desmoplastic colorectal and pancreatic metastasis, but not in non-desmoplastic metastatic tumors. Single cell RNA-sequencing in conjunction with CellPhoneDB ligand-receptor analysis, as well as studies in immune cell-depleted and HSC-selective knockout mice uncovered direct CAF-tumor interactions as tumor-promoting mechanism, mediated by myofibroblastic CAF (myCAF)-secreted hyaluronan and inflammatory CAF (iCAF)-secreted HGF. These effects were opposed by myCAF-expressed type-I collagen, which suppressed tumor growth by mechanically restraining tumor spread, overriding its own stiffness-induced mechanosignals. In summary, mechanical restriction by type-I collagen opposes the overall tumor-promoting effects of CAF, thus providing a mechanistic explanation for their dual functions in cancer. Therapeutic targeting of tumor-promoting CAF mediators while preserving type-I collagen may convert CAF from tumor-promoting to tumor-restricting.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Collagens; Fibrosis; Hepatology; Oncology
  17. Nat Cancer. 2021 Apr;2(4): 444-456
      Prostate cancers are considered to be immunologically 'cold' tumors given the very few patients who respond to checkpoint inhibitor (CPI) therapy. Recently, enrichment of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) predicted a favorable response to CPI across various disease sites. The enhancer of zeste homolog-2 (EZH2) is overexpressed in prostate cancer and known to negatively regulate ISGs. In the present study, we demonstrate that EZH2 inhibition in prostate cancer models activates a double-stranded RNA-STING-ISG stress response upregulating genes involved in antigen presentation, Th1 chemokine signaling and interferon response, including programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-L1) that is dependent on STING activation. EZH2 inhibition substantially increased intratumoral trafficking of activated CD8+ T cells and increased M1 tumor-associated macrophages, overall reversing resistance to PD-1 CPI. Our study identifies EZH2 as a potent inhibitor of antitumor immunity and responsiveness to CPI. These data suggest EZH2 inhibition as a therapeutic direction to enhance prostate cancer response to PD-1 CPI.
  18. Clin Cancer Res. 2021 Apr 29. pii: clincanres.0410.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      PURPOSE: Detection of persistent circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) after curative-intent surgery can identify patients with minimal residual disease (MRD) who will ultimately recur. Most ctDNA MRD assays require tumor sequencing to identify tumor-derived mutations to facilitate ctDNA detection, requiring tumor and blood. We evaluated a plasma-only ctDNA assay integrating genomic and epigenomic cancer signatures to enable tumor-uninformed MRD detection.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: 252 prospective serial plasma specimens from 103 colorectal cancer (CRC) patients undergoing curative intent surgery were analyzed and correlated with recurrence.
    RESULTS: Of 103 patients, 84 (stage I (9.5%), II (23.8%), III (47.6%), IV (19%)) had evaluable plasma drawn post-completion of definitive therapy, defined as surgery only (n=39) or completion of adjuvant therapy (n=45). In "landmark" plasma drawn one-month (median 31.5 days) post-definitive therapy and >1 year follow up, 15 patients had detectable ctDNA, and all 15 recurred (positive predictive value (PPV) 100%, hazard ratio 11.28 (p<0.0001)). Of 49 patients without detectable ctDNA at the landmark timepoint, 12 (24.5%) recurred. Landmark recurrence sensitivity and specificity were 55.6% and 100%. Incorporating serial longitudinal and surveillance (drawn within 4-months of recurrence) samples, sensitivity improved to 69% and 91%. Integrating epigenomic signatures increased sensitivity by 25-36% versus genomic alterations alone. Notably, standard serum carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) levels did not predict recurrence (hazard ratio 1.84 (p=0.18); PPV=53.9%).
    CONCLUSIONS: Plasma-only MRD detection demonstrated favorable sensitivity and specificity for recurrence, comparable to tumor-informed approaches. Integrating analysis of epigenomic and genomic alterations enhanced sensitivity. These findings support the potential clinical utility of plasma-only ctDNA MRD detection.
  19. Cancer Res. 2021 Apr 26. pii: canres.0184.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      The survival benefit derived from sorafenib treatment for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is modest due to acquired resistance. Targeting cancer stem cells (CSC) is a possible way to reverse drug resistance; however, inhibitors that specifically target liver CSCs are limited. In this study, we established two sorafenib-resistant, patient-derived tumor xenografts (PDX) that mimicked development of acquired resistance to sorafenib in HCC patients. RNA-sequencing analysis of sorafenib-resistant PDXs and their corresponding mock controls identified EPHB2 as the most significantly upregulated kinase. EPHB2 expression increased stepwise from normal liver tissue to fibrotic liver tissue to HCC tissue and correlated with poor prognosis. Endogenous EPHB2 knockout showed attenuation of tumor development in mice. EPHB2 regulated the traits of liver CSCs; similarly, sorted EPHB2High HCC cells were endowed with enhanced CSC properties when compared with their EPHB2Low counterparts. Mechanistically, EPHB2 regulated cancer stemness and drug resistance by driving the SRC/AKT/GSK3β/β-catenin signaling cascade, and EPHB2 expression was regulated by TCF1 via promoter activation, forming a positive Wnt/β-catenin feedback loop. Intravenous administration of rAAV-8-shEPHB2 suppressed HCC tumor growth and significantly sensitized HCC cells to sorafenib in an NRAS/AKT-driven HCC immunocompetent mouse model. Targeting a positive feedback loop involving the EPHB2/β-catenin axis may be a possible therapeutic strategy to combat acquired drug resistance in HCC.
  20. Oncogene. 2021 Apr 29.
      Ferroptosis, a form of regulated cell death triggered by lipid peroxidation, was recently identified as an important mechanism in radiotherapy (RT)-mediated tumor suppression and radioresistance, although the exact genetic contexts in which to target ferroptosis in RT remains to be defined. p53 is the most commonly mutated gene in human cancers and a major effector to RT. Here, we identify ferroptosis as a critical mechanism to mediate p53 function in tumor radiosensitivity. Mechanistically, RT-mediated p53 activation antagonizes RT-induced SLC7A11 expression and represses glutathione synthesis, thereby promoting RT-induced lipid peroxidation and ferroptosis. p53 deficiency promotes radioresistance in cancer cells or tumors at least partly through SLC7A11-mediated ferroptosis inhibition. Ferroptosis inducers (FINs) that inhibit SLC7A11 exert significant radiosensitizing effects in tumor organoids and patient-derived xenografts with p53 mutation or deficiency. Finally, we show that RT-induced ferroptosis correlates with p53 activation and better clinical outcomes to RT in cancer patients. Together, our study uncovers a previously unappreciated role of ferroptosis in p53-mediated radiosensitization and suggest using FINs in combination with RT to treat p53-mutant cancers.
  21. STAR Protoc. 2021 Jun 18. 2(2): 100460
      Previously, we identified a therapy-resistant role of IL-34 in an immune checkpoint blockade in murine models. To investigate whether a similar mechanism is applicable in human tumors as well, we used this protocol for the selection of IL-34-neutralizing antibody and transplanting human tumor tissue expressing both IL-34 and PD-L1 as a patient-derived xenograft in immunologically humanized mice. This model helps to determine the effect of IL-34 neutralization along with the immune checkpoint blockade in human tumors. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Hama et al. (2020).
    Keywords:  Antibody; Cancer; Cell culture; Immunology; Model Organisms