bims-tucedo Biomed News
on Tumor cell dormancy
Issue of 2021‒05‒09
fourteen papers selected by
Isabel Puig Borreil
Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology

  1. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2021 May 06.
      Chemokines, a subfamily of the cell cytokines, are low molecular weight proteins known to induce chemotaxis in leukocytes in response to inflammatory and pathogenic signals. A plethora of literature demonstrates that chemokines and their receptors regulate tumor progression and metastasis. With these diverse functionalities, chemokines act as a fundamental link between the tumor cells and their microenvironment. Recent studies demonstrate that the biology of chemokines and their receptor in metastasis is complex as numerous chemokines are involved in regulating site-specific tumor growth and metastasis. Successful treatment of disseminated cancer is a significant challenge. The most crucial problem for treating metastatic cancer is developing therapy regimes capable of overcoming heterogeneity problems within primary tumors and among metastases and within metastases (intralesional). This heterogeneity of malignant tumor cells can be related to metastatic potential, response to chemotherapy or specific immunotherapy, and many other factors. In this review, we have emphasized the role of chemokines in the process of metastasis and metastatic heterogeneity. Individual chemokines may not express the full potential to address metastatic heterogeneity, but chemokine networks need exploration. Understanding the interplay between chemokine-chemokine receptor networks between the tumor cells and their microenvironment is a novel approach to overcome the problem of metastatic heterogeneity. Recent advances in the understanding of chemokine networks pave the way for developing a potential targeted therapeutic strategy to treat metastatic cancer.
    Keywords:  Angiogenesis; Cancer stem cells; Chemokines/receptors; Epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity; Heterogeneity; Therapy resistance
  2. Nat Rev Cancer. 2021 May 05.
      Metastasis is a major contributor to cancer-associated deaths. It is characterized by a multistep process that occurs through the acquisition of molecular and phenotypic changes enabling cancer cells from a primary tumour to disseminate and colonize at distant organ sites. Over the past decade, the discovery and characterization of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have revealed the diversity of their regulatory roles, including key contributions throughout the metastatic cascade. Here, we review how lncRNAs promote metastasis by functioning in discrete pro-metastatic steps including the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, invasion and migration and organotrophic colonization, and by influencing the metastatic tumour microenvironment, often by interacting within ribonucleoprotein complexes or directly with other nucleic acid entities. We discuss well-characterized lncRNAs with in vivo phenotypes and highlight mechanistic commonalities such as convergence with the TGFβ-ZEB1/ZEB2 axis or the nuclear factor-κB pathway, in addition to lncRNAs with controversial mechanisms and the influence of methodologies on mechanistic interpretation. Furthermore, some lncRNAs can help identify tumours with increased metastatic risk and spur novel therapeutic strategies, with several lncRNAs having shown potential as novel targets for antisense oligonucleotide therapy in animal models. In addition to well-characterized examples of lncRNAs functioning in metastasis, we discuss controversies and ongoing challenges in lncRNA biology. Finally, we present areas for future study for this rapidly evolving field.
  3. Nat Commun. 2021 05 03. 12(1): 2487
      ARIEL2 (NCT01891344) is a single-arm, open-label phase 2 study of the PARP inhibitor (PARPi) rucaparib in relapsed high-grade ovarian carcinoma. In this post hoc exploratory biomarker analysis of pre- and post-platinum ARIEL2 samples, RAD51C and RAD51D mutations and high-level BRCA1 promoter methylation predict response to rucaparib, similar to BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations. BRCA1 methylation loss may be a major cross-resistance mechanism to platinum and PARPi. Genomic scars associated with homologous recombination deficiency are irreversible, persisting even as platinum resistance develops, and therefore are predictive of rucaparib response only in platinum-sensitive disease. The RAS, AKT, and cell cycle pathways may be additional modulators of PARPi sensitivity.
  4. Cancer Discov. 2021 May 05.
      Cancer is characterized by loss of the regulatory mechanisms that preserve homeostasis in multicellular organisms, such as controlled proliferation, cell-cell adhesion, and tissue differentiation. The breakdown of multicellularity rules is accompanied by activation of "selfish," unicellular-like life features, which are linked to the increased adaptability to environmental changes displayed by cancer cells. Mechanisms of stress response, resembling those observed in unicellular organisms, are actively exploited by mammalian cancer cells to boost genetic diversity and increase chances of survival under unfavorable conditions, such as lack of oxygen/nutrients or exposure to drugs. Unicellular organisms under stressful conditions (e.g., antibiotic treatment) stop replicating or slowly divide and transiently increase their mutation rates to foster diversity, a process known as adaptive mutability. Analogously, tumor cells exposed to drugs enter a persister phenotype and can reduce DNA replication fidelity, which in turn fosters genetic diversity. The implications of adaptive evolution are of relevance to understand resistance to anticancer therapies.
  5. Dev Cell. 2021 May 03. pii: S1534-5807(21)00322-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Tumors undergo metabolic transformations to sustain uncontrolled proliferation, avoid cell death, and seed in secondary organs. An increased focus on cancer lipid metabolism has unveiled a number of mechanisms that promote tumor growth and survival, many of which are independent of classical cellular bioenergetics. These mechanisms include modulation of ferroptotic-mediated cell death, support during tumor metastasis, and interactions with the cells of the tumor microenvironment. As such, targeting lipid metabolism for anti-cancer therapies is attractive, with recent work on small-molecule inhibitors identifying compounds to target lipid metabolism. Here, we discuss these topics and identify open questions.
    Keywords:  cancer; immunometabolism; lipids; metabolism; metastasis; tumor microenvironment
  6. JCI Insight. 2021 May 04. pii: 147929. [Epub ahead of print]
      Similar to tumor initiating cells (TICs), minimal residual disease (MRD) is capable of re-initiating tumors and causing recurrence. However, the molecular characteristics of solid tumor MRD cells and drivers of their survival have remained elusive. Here we performed dense multi-region transcriptomics analysis of paired biopsies from 17 ovarian cancer patients before and after chemotherapy. We reveal that while MRD cells share important molecular signatures with TICs, they are also characterized by an adipocyte-like gene expression signature and a portion of them had undergone epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In a cell culture MRD model, MRD-mimic cells show the same phenotype and are dependent on fatty acid oxidation for survival and resistance to cytotoxic agents. These findings identify EMT and FAO as attractive targets to eradicate MRD in ovarian cancer and make a compelling case for the further testing of FAO inhibitors in treating MRD.
    Keywords:  Fatty acid oxidation; Obstetrics/gynecology; Oncology
  7. Nat Rev Cancer. 2021 May 05.
      In contrast to solid cancers, which often require genetic modifications and complex cellular reprogramming for effective metastatic dissemination, leukaemic cells uniquely possess the innate ability for migration and invasion. Dedifferentiated, malignant leukocytes retain the benign leukocytes' capacity for cell motility and survival in the circulation, while acquiring the potential for rapid and uncontrolled cell division. For these reasons, leukaemias, although not traditionally considered as metastatic diseases, are in fact models of highly efficient metastatic spread. Accordingly, they are often aggressive and challenging diseases to treat. In this Perspective, we discuss the key molecular processes that facilitate metastasis in a variety of leukaemic subtypes, the clinical significance of leukaemic invasion into specific tissues and the current pipeline of treatments targeting leukaemia metastasis.
  8. Nat Commun. 2021 05 05. 12(1): 2536
      Molecular profiling of circulating extracellular vesicles (EVs) provides a promising noninvasive means to diagnose, monitor, and predict the course of metastatic breast cancer (MBC). However, the analysis of EV protein markers has been confounded by the presence of soluble protein counterparts in peripheral blood. Here we use a rapid, sensitive, and low-cost thermophoretic aptasensor (TAS) to profile cancer-associated protein profiles of plasma EVs without the interference of soluble proteins. We show that the EV signature (a weighted sum of eight EV protein markers) has a high accuracy (91.1 %) for discrimination of MBC, non-metastatic breast cancer (NMBC), and healthy donors (HD). For MBC patients undergoing therapies, the EV signature can accurately monitor the treatment response across the training, validation, and prospective cohorts, and serve as an independent prognostic factor for progression free survival in MBC patients. Together, this work highlights the potential clinical utility of EVs in management of MBC.
  9. Cancer Res. 2021 May 03. pii: canres.3555.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Lung cancers driven by mutant forms of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) invariably develop resistance to kinase inhibitors, often due to secondary mutations. Here we describe an unconventional mechanism of resistance to dacomitinib, a newly approved covalent EGFR kinase inhibitor, and uncover a previously unknown step of resistance acquisition. Dacomitinib-resistant derivatives of lung cancer cells were established by means of gradually increasing dacomitinib concentrations. These dacomitinib-resistant (DR) cells acquired no secondary mutations in the kinase or other domains of EGFR. Along with resistance to other EGFR inhibitors, DR cells acquired features characteristic to epithelial-mesenchymal transition, including an expanded population of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)-positive cells and upregulation of AXL, a receptor previously implicated in drug resistance. Unexpectedly, when implanted in animals, DR cells reverted to a dacomitinib-sensitive state. Nevertheless, cell lines derived from regressing tumors displayed renewed resistance when cultured in vitro. 3D and co-cultures along with additional analyses indicated lack of involvement of hypoxia, fibroblasts, and immune cells in phenotype reversal, implying that other host-dependent mechanisms might nullify non-mutational modes of resistance. Thus, similar to the phenotypic resistance of bacteria treated with antibiotics, the reversible resisters described here likely evolve from drug-tolerant persisters and give rise to the irreversible, secondary mutation-driven non-reversible resister state.
  10. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 May 11. pii: e2020490118. [Epub ahead of print]118(19):
      Breast cancer patients with increased expression of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) in primary tumor biopsies are at increased risk of metastasis, which is the major cause of breast cancer-related mortality. The mechanisms by which intratumoral hypoxia and HIFs regulate metastasis are not fully elucidated. In this paper, we report that exposure of human breast cancer cells to hypoxia activates epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling that is mediated by the HIF-dependent expression of a disintegrin and metalloprotease 12 (ADAM12), which mediates increased ectodomain shedding of heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor, an EGFR ligand, leading to EGFR-dependent phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase. Inhibition of ADAM12 expression or activity decreased hypoxia-induced breast cancer cell migration and invasion in vitro, and dramatically impaired lung metastasis after orthotopic implantation of MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells into the mammary fat pad of immunodeficient mice.
    Keywords:  cell motility; invasion; metastasis; migration; tumor microenvironment
  11. Nature. 2021 May 05.
      Although RAF monomer inhibitors (type I.5, BRAF(V600)) are clinically approved for the treatment of BRAFV600-mutant melanoma, they are ineffective in non-BRAFV600 mutant cells1-3. Belvarafenib is a potent and selective RAF dimer (type II) inhibitor that exhibits clinical activity in patients with BRAFV600E- and NRAS-mutant melanomas. Here we report the first-in-human phase I study investigating the maximum tolerated dose, and assessing the safety and preliminary efficacy of belvarafenib in BRAFV600E- and RAS-mutated advanced solid tumours (NCT02405065, NCT03118817). By generating belvarafenib-resistant NRAS-mutant melanoma cells and analysing circulating tumour DNA from patients treated with belvarafenib, we identified new recurrent mutations in ARAF within the kinase domain. ARAF mutants conferred resistance to belvarafenib in both a dimer- and a kinase activity-dependent manner. Belvarafenib induced ARAF mutant dimers, and dimers containing mutant ARAF were active in the presence of inhibitor. ARAF mutations may serve as a general resistance mechanism for RAF dimer inhibitors as the mutants exhibit reduced sensitivity to a panel of type II RAF inhibitors. The combination of RAF plus MEK inhibition may be used to delay ARAF-driven resistance and suggests a rational combination for clinical use. Together, our findings reveal specific and compensatory functions for the ARAF isoform and implicate ARAF mutations as a driver of resistance to RAF dimer inhibitors.
  12. Nat Commun. 2021 05 03. 12(1): 2498
      Cancers of unknown primary (CUPs), featuring metastatic dissemination in the absence of a primary tumor, are a biological enigma and a fatal disease. We propose that CUPs are a distinct, yet unrecognized, pathological entity originating from stem-like cells endowed with peculiar and shared properties. These cells can be isolated in vitro (agnospheres) and propagated in vivo by serial transplantation, displaying high tumorigenicity. After subcutaneous engraftment, agnospheres recapitulate the CUP phenotype, by spontaneously and quickly disseminating, and forming widespread established metastases. Regardless of different genetic backgrounds, agnospheres invariably display cell-autonomous proliferation and self-renewal, mostly relying on unrestrained activation of the MAP kinase/MYC axis, which confers sensitivity to MEK inhibitors in vitro and in vivo. Such sensitivity is associated with a transcriptomic signature predicting that more than 70% of CUP patients could be eligible to MEK inhibition. These data shed light on CUP biology and unveil an opportunity for therapeutic intervention.