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

  1. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(13): 6526-6541
      The treatment for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer patients remains a great challenge in the clinic and continuously demands discoveries of new targets and therapies. Here, we assess the function and therapeutic value of SIRT6 in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. Methods: The expression of SIRT6 was examined in prostate cancer tissue microarray by immunohistochemistry staining. The functions of SIRT6 and underlying mechanisms were elucidated by in vitro and in vivo experiments. We also developed an efficient method to silence SIRT6 by aptamer-modified exosomes carrying small interfering RNA and tested the therapeutic effect in the xenograft mice models. Results: SIRT6 expression is positively correlated with prostate cancer progression. Loss of SIRT6 significantly suppressed proliferation and metastasis of prostate cancer cell lines both in vitro and in vivo. SIRT6-driven prostate cancer displays activation of multiple cancer-related signaling pathways, especially the Notch pathway. Silencing SIRT6 by siRNA delivered through engineered exosomes inhibited tumor growth and metastasis. Conclusions: SIRT6 is identified as a driver and therapeutic target for metastatic prostate cancer in our findings, and inhibition of SIRT6 by engineered exosomes can serve as a promising therapeutic tool for clinical application.
    Keywords:  Notch pathway; SIRT6; castration-resistant prostate cancer; engineered exosomes; therapy
  2. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(13): 6560-6572
      Rationale: Metastasis, the development of secondary malignant growth at a distance from a primary tumor, is the main cause of cancer-associated death. However, little is known about how metastatic cancer cells adapt to and colonize in the new organ environment. Here we sought to investigate the functional mechanism of cholesterol metabolic aberration in colorectal carcinoma (CRC) liver metastasis. Methods: The expression of cholesterol metabolism-related genes in primary colorectal tumors (PT) and paired liver metastases (LM) were examined by RT-PCR. The role of SREBP2-dependent cholesterol biosynthesis pathway in cell growth and CRC liver metastasis were determined by SREBP2 silencing in CRC cell lines and experimental metastasis models including, intra-splenic injection models and liver orthotropic injection model. Growth factors treatment and co-culture experiment were performed to reveal the mechanism underlying the up-regulation of SREBP2 in CRC liver metastases. The in vivo efficacy of inhibition of cholesterol biosynthesis pathway by betulin or simvastatin were evaluated in experimental metastasis models. Results: In the present study, we identify a colorectal cancer (CRC) liver metastasis-specific cholesterol metabolic pathway involving the activation of SREBP2-dependent cholesterol biosynthesis, which is required for the colonization and growth of metastatic CRC cells in the liver. Inhibiting this cholesterol biosynthesis pathway suppresses CRC liver metastasis. Mechanically, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) from liver environment activates SREBP2-dependent cholesterol biosynthesis pathway by activating c-Met/PI3K/AKT/mTOR axis in CRC cells. Conclusion: Our findings support the notion that CRC liver metastases show a specific cholesterol metabolic aberration. Targeting this cholesterol biosynthesis pathway could be a promising treatment for CRC liver metastasis.
    Keywords:  HGF; SREBP2; cholesterol biosynthesis; colorectal cancer; liver metastasis
  3. Clin Cancer Res. 2021 May 19. pii: clincanres.3905.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      PURPOSE: FGFR1 overexpression has been associated with endocrine resistance in ER+ breast cancer. We found FGFR1 localized in the nucleus of breast cancer cells in primary tumors resistant to estrogen suppression. We investigated a role of nuclear FGFR1 on gene transcription and antiestrogen resistance.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Tumors from patients treated with letrozole were subjected to Ki67 and FGFR1 IHC. MCF7 cells were transduced with FGFR1(SP-)(NLS) to promote nuclear FGFR1 overexpression. FGFR1 genomic activity in ER+/FGFR1-amplified breast cancer cells {plus minus} FOXA1 siRNA or {plus minus} the FGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) erdafitinib was examined by ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq. The nuclear and chromatin-bound FGFR1 interactome was investigated by Mass Spectrometry (MS).
    RESULTS: High nuclear FGFR1 expression in ER+ primary tumors positively correlated with post-letrozole Ki67 values. Nuclear FGFR1 overexpression influenced gene transcription and promoted resistance to estrogen suppression and to fulvestrant in vivo A gene expression signature induced by nuclear FGFR1 correlated with shorter survival in the METABRIC cohort of patients treated with antiestrogens. ChIP-Seq revealed FGFR1 occupancy at transcription start sites, overlapping with active transcription histone marks. MS analysis of the nuclear FGFR1 interactome identified phosphorylated RNA-Polymerase II and FOXA1, with FOXA1 RNAi impairing FGFR1 recruitment to chromatin. Treatment with erdafitinib did not impair nuclear FGFR1 translocation and genomic activity.
    CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest nuclear FGFR1 contributes to endocrine resistance by modulating gene transcription in ER+ breast cancer. Nuclear FGFR1 activity was unaffected by FGFR TKIs, thus supporting the development of treatment strategies to inhibit nuclear FGFR1 in ER+/FGFR1 overexpressing breast cancer.
  4. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 May 25. pii: e2103180118. [Epub ahead of print]118(21):
      Melanoma differentiation associated gene-9 (MDA-9), Syntenin-1, or syndecan binding protein is a differentially regulated prometastatic gene with elevated expression in advanced stages of melanoma. MDA-9/Syntenin expression positively associates with advanced disease stage in multiple histologically distinct cancers and negatively correlates with patient survival and response to chemotherapy. MDA-9/Syntenin is a highly conserved PDZ-domain scaffold protein, robustly expressed in a spectrum of diverse cancer cell lines and clinical samples. PDZ domains interact with a number of proteins, many of which are critical regulators of signaling cascades in cancer. Knockdown of MDA-9/Syntenin decreases cancer cell metastasis, sensitizing these cells to radiation. Genetic silencing of MDA-9/Syntenin or treatment with a pharmacological inhibitor of the PDZ1 domain, PDZ1i, also activates the immune system to kill cancer cells. Additionally, suppression of MDA-9/Syntenin deregulates myeloid-derived suppressor cell differentiation via the STAT3/interleukin (IL)-1β pathway, which concomitantly promotes activation of cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Biologically, PDZ1i treatment decreases metastatic nodule formation in the lungs, resulting in significantly fewer invasive cancer cells. In summary, our observations indicate that MDA-9/Syntenin provides a direct therapeutic target for mitigating aggressive breast cancer and a small-molecule inhibitor, PDZ1i, provides a promising reagent for inhibiting advanced breast cancer pathogenesis.
    Keywords:  IL-1β; MDA-9/Syntenin; breast cancer; metastasis
  5. Nat Ecol Evol. 2021 May 20.
      Anti-EGFR antibodies such as cetuximab are active against KRAS/NRAS wild-type colorectal cancers (CRCs), but acquired resistance invariably evolves. It is unknown which mutational mechanisms enable resistance evolution and whether adaptive mutagenesis (a transient cetuximab-induced increase in mutation generation) contributes in patients. Here, we investigate these questions in exome sequencing data from 42 baseline and progression biopsies from cetuximab-treated CRCs. Mutation loads did not increase from baseline to progression, and evidence for a contribution of adaptive mutagenesis was limited. However, the chemotherapy-induced mutational signature SBS17b was the main contributor of specific KRAS/NRAS and EGFR driver mutations that are enriched at acquired resistance. Detectable SBS17b activity before treatment predicted shorter progression-free survival and the evolution of these specific mutations during subsequent cetuximab treatment. This result suggests that chemotherapy mutagenesis can accelerate resistance evolution. Mutational signatures may be a new class of cancer evolution predictor.
  6. J Clin Invest. 2021 May 17. pii: 144225. [Epub ahead of print]131(10):
      Intercellular biomolecule transfer (ICBT) between malignant and benign cells is a major driver of tumor growth, resistance to anticancer therapies, and therapy-triggered metastatic disease. Here we characterized cholesterol 25-hydroxylase (CH25H) as a key genetic suppressor of ICBT between malignant and endothelial cells (ECs) and of ICBT-driven angiopoietin-2-dependent activation of ECs, stimulation of intratumoral angiogenesis, and tumor growth. Human CH25H was downregulated in the ECs from patients with colorectal cancer and the low levels of stromal CH25H were associated with a poor disease outcome. Knockout of endothelial CH25H stimulated angiogenesis and tumor growth in mice. Pharmacologic inhibition of ICBT by reserpine compensated for CH25H loss, elicited angiostatic effects (alone or combined with sunitinib), augmented the therapeutic effect of radio-/chemotherapy, and prevented metastatic disease induced by these regimens. We propose inhibiting ICBT to improve the overall efficacy of anticancer therapies and limit their prometastatic side effects.
    Keywords:  Colorectal cancer; Endothelial cells; Oncology; Vascular Biology
  7. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 May 25. pii: e2100673118. [Epub ahead of print]118(21):
      HER2-positive (HER2+) breast cancers (BrCs) contain approximately equal numbers of ERα+HER2+ and ERα-HER2+ cases. An enduring obstacle is the unclear cell lineage-related characteristics of these BrCs. Although ERα+HER2+ BrCs could lose ERα to become ERα-HER2+ BrCs, direct evidence is missing. To investigate ERα dependencies and their implications during BrC growth and metastasis, we generated ERαCreRFP-T mice that produce an RFP-marked ERα+ mammary gland epithelial cell (MGEC) lineage. RCAS virus-mediated expression of Erbb2, a rodent Her2 homolog, first produced comparable numbers of ERα+RFP+Erbb2+ and ERα-RFP-Erbb2+ MGECs. Early hyperplasia developed mostly from ERα+RFP+Erbb2+ cells and ERα-RFP-Erbb2+ cells in these lesions were rare. The subsequently developed ductal carcinomas in situ had 64% slow-proliferating ERα+RFP+Erbb2+ cells, 15% fast-proliferating ERα-RFP+Erbb2+ cells derived from ERα+RFP+Erbb2+ cells, and 20% fast-proliferating ERα-RFP-Erbb2+ cells. The advanced tumors had mostly ERα-RFP+Erbb2+ and ERα-RFP-Erbb2+ cells and only a very small population of ERα+RFP+Erbb2+ cells. In ERα-RFP+Erbb2+ cells, GATA3 and FoxA1 decreased expression and ERα promoter regions became methylated, consistent with the loss of ERα expression. Lung metastases consisted of mostly ERα-RFP+Erbb2+ cells, a few ERα-RFP-Erbb2+ cells, and no ERα+RFP+Erbb2+ cells. The high metastatic capacity of ERα-RFP+Erbb2+ cells was associated with ERK1/2 activation. These results show that the slow-proliferating, nonmetastatic ERα+RFP+Erbb2+ cells progressively lose ERα during tumorigenesis to become fast-proliferating, highly metastatic ERα-RFP+Erbb2+ cells. The ERα-Erbb2+ BrCs with an ERα+ origin are more aggressive than those ERα-Erbb2+ BrCs with an ERα- origin, and thus, they should be distinguished and treated differently in the future.
    Keywords:  HER2+ breast cancer; cancer cell origin; cell lineage tracing; estrogen receptor; metastasis
  8. Mol Cancer. 2021 May 18. 20(1): 77
      BACKGROUND: KDM6A, a histone demethylase, is frequently mutated in bladder cancer (BCa). However, the role and detailed molecular mechanism of KDM6A involved in bladder cancer progression remains unknown.METHODS: Tissue specimens were used to determine the expression levels and prognostic values of KDM6A and ARHGDIB. The MTT, colony formation, wound healing and Transwell migration and invasion assays were employed to detect the BCa cell proliferation, migration and invasion, respectively. Chemotaxis of macrophages was used to evaluate the ability of KDM6A to recruit macrophages. A subcutaneous tumour model and tail vein tumour injection in nude mice were used to assess the role of KDM6A in vivo. RNA sequencing, qPCR, Western blot, ChIP and phalloidin staining assay were performed to investigate the molecular functions of KDM6A. Dual-luciferase reporter assay was used to determine the effects of KDM6A and FOXA1 on the promoters of the ARHGDIB and KDM6A.
    RESULTS: We showed that the KDM6A inhibited the motility and invasiveness of the BCa cells. Mechanistically, KDM6A promotes the transcription of ARHGDIB by demethylating histone H3 lysine di/trimethylation (H3K27me2/3) and consequently leads to inhibition of Rac1. EZH2, which catalyses the methylation of H3K27, functions to silence ARHGDIB expression, and an EZH2 inhibitor can neutralize the metastatic effect caused by KDM6A deficiency. Furthermore, we demonstrated that FOXA1 directly binds to the KDM6A promoter and thus transactivates KDM6A, leading to diminished metastatic potential.
    CONCLUSION: Our findings establish the critical role of the FOXA1-KDM6A-ARHGDIB axis in restraining the malignancy of BCa and identify KDM6A and EZH2 as potential therapeutic targets in the management of BCa.
    Keywords:  ARHGDIB-Rac1 axis; Bladder cancer; Epigenetics; FOXA1; KDM6A; Metastasis
  9. Cancer Discov. 2021 May 21.
      Neutrophil elastase (ELANE) killed tumors of diverse types but spared neighboring healthy tissue.
  10. EMBO Mol Med. 2021 May 16. e13110
      High intratumoral levels of urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA)-plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) heteromers predict impaired survival and treatment response in early breast cancer. The pathogenetic role of this protein complex remains obscure. Here, we demonstrate that heteromerization of uPA and PAI-1 multiplies the potential of the single proteins to attract pro-tumorigenic neutrophils. To this end, tumor-released uPA-PAI-1 utilizes very low-density lipoprotein receptor and mitogen-activated protein kinases to initiate a pro-inflammatory program in perivascular macrophages. This enforces neutrophil trafficking to cancerous lesions and skews these immune cells toward a pro-tumorigenic phenotype, thus supporting tumor growth and metastasis. Blockade of uPA-PAI-1 heteromerization by a novel small-molecule inhibitor interfered with these events and effectively prevented tumor progression. Our findings identify a therapeutically targetable, hitherto unknown interplay between hemostasis and innate immunity that drives breast cancer progression. As a personalized immunotherapeutic strategy, blockade of uPA-PAI-1 heteromerization might be particularly beneficial for patients with highly aggressive uPA-PAI-1high tumors.
    Keywords:  biomarker; breast cancer; fibrinolysis; innate immunity; neutrophils
  11. Cancer Res. 2021 May 20. pii: canres.4010.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Despite extensive progress in developing anti-cancer therapies, therapy resistance remains a major challenge that promotes disease relapse. The changes that lead to therapy resistance can be intrinsically present or may be initiated during treatment. Genetic and epigenetic heterogeneity in tumors make it more challenging to deal with therapy resistance. Recent advances in genome-wide analyses have revealed that the deregulation of distal gene regulatory elements, such as enhancers, appears in several pathophysiological conditions, including cancer. Beyond the conventional function of enhancers in recruiting transcription factors to gene promoters, enhancer elements are also transcribed into noncoding RNAs known as enhancer RNAs (eRNA). Accumulating evidence suggests that uncontrolled enhancer activity with aberrant eRNA expression promotes oncogenesis. Interestingly, tissue-specific, transcribed eRNAs from active enhancers can serve as potential therapeutic targets or biomarkers in several cancer types. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the mechanisms of enhancer transcription and eRNAs as well as their potential roles in cancer and drug resistance.
  12. Sci Adv. 2021 May;pii: eabd7455. [Epub ahead of print]7(21):
      The PDL1-PD1 immune checkpoint inhibits T cell activation, and its blockade is effective in a subset of patients. Studies are investigating how checkpoints are hijacked by cancer cells and why most patients remain resistant to immunotherapy. Epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT), which drives tumor cell invasion via the Zeb1 transcription factor, is linked to immunotherapy resistance. In addition, M2-polarized tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), which inhibit T cell migration and activation, may also cause immunotherapy resistance. How EMT in invading cancer cells is linked to therapy resistance and events driving TAM M2 polarization are therefore important questions. We show that Zeb1 links these two resistance pathways because it is required for PDL1 expression on invading lung cancer cells, and it also induces CD47 on these invading cells, which drives M2 polarization of adjacent TAMs. Resulting reprogramming of the microenvironment around invading cells shields them from the hostile inflammatory environment surrounding tumors.
  13. Cancer Discov. 2021 May 21. pii: candisc.1690.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cancer cells must overcome anoikis (detachment-induced death) to successfully metastasize. Using proteomic screens, we found that distinct oncoproteins upregulate IL-1 receptor accessory protein (IL1RAP) to suppress anoikis. IL1RAP is directly induced by oncogenic fusions of Ewing sarcoma (EwS), a highly metastatic childhood sarcoma. IL1RAP inactivation triggers anoikis and impedes metastatic dissemination of EwS cells. Mechanistically, IL1RAP binds the cell surface system Xc- transporter to enhance exogenous cystine uptake, thereby replenishing cysteine and the glutathione antioxidant. Under cystine depletion, IL1RAP induces cystathionine gamma lyase (CTH) to activate the transsulfuration pathway for de novo cysteine synthesis. Therefore IL1RAP maintains cyst(e)ine and glutathione pools which are vital for redox homeostasis and anoikis resistance. IL1RAP is minimally expressed in pediatric and adult normal tissues, and human anti-IL1RAP antibodies induce potent antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity of EwS cells. Therefore, we define IL1RAP as a new cell surface target in EwS, which is potentially exploitable for immunotherapy.
  14. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2021 May 17.
      Protein kinases regulate nearly all aspects of cell life, and alterations in their expression, or mutations in their genes, cause cancer and other diseases. Here, we review the remarkable progress made over the past 20 years in improving the potency and specificity of small-molecule inhibitors of protein and lipid kinases, resulting in the approval of more than 70 new drugs since imatinib was approved in 2001. These compounds have had a significant impact on the way in which we now treat cancers and non-cancerous conditions. We discuss how the challenge of drug resistance to kinase inhibitors is being met and the future of kinase drug discovery.
  15. Oncogene. 2021 May 16.
      The tumor microenvironment is deeply involved in the process of tumor growth and development. In this study, we focused on cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and their derived exosomes on the lymphoma microenvironment to uncover their clinical significance. CAFs were established from primary lymphoma samples, and exosomes secreted from CAFs were obtained by standard procedures. We then investigated the roles of CAFs and their derived exosomes in the survival and drug resistance of lymphoma cells. CAFs supported the survival of lymphoma cells through increased glycolysis, and the extent differed among CAFs. Exosomes were identified as a major component of the extracellular vesicles from CAFs, and they also supported the survival of lymphoma cells. The suppression of RAB27B, which is involved in the secretion of exosomes, using a specific siRNA resulted in reduced exosome secretion and decreased survival of lymphoma cells. Moreover, anti-pyrimidine drug resistance was induced in the presence of exosomes through the suppression of the pyrimidine transporter, equilibrative nucleoside transporter 2 (ENT2), and the suppression of ENT2 was significant in in vivo experiments and clinical samples. RNA sequencing analysis of miRNAs in exosomes identified miR-4717-5p as one of the most abundant miRNAs in the exosome, which suppressed the expression of ENT2 and induced anti-pyrimidine drug resistance in vitro. Our results suggest that exosomes including miR-4717-5p secreted from CAFs play a pivotal role in the lymphoma microenvironment, indicating that they are a promising therapeutic target.
  16. Hepatology. 2021 May 17.
      In a recent issue of Cell, Sun Y, Wu L, Zhong Y, et al. Single-cell landscape of the ecosystem in early-relapse hepatocellular carcinoma. Cell 2021;184:404-421 e416, performed single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) to study the underlying mechanisms associated with the recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and address this unmet clinical need (1). The analysis included tumors from 12 treatment-naïve primary liver cancer patients, 6 early-relapsed patients, and 4 patients with paired primary and early-relapsed tumors.
  17. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(13): 6278-6292
      Background: Ovarian cancer is a fatal gynecologic malignancy that is found worldwide and exhibits an insidious onset and a lack of early warning symptoms. Despite ongoing studies, the mechanistic basis of the aggressive phenotypes of ovarian cancer remains unclear. Lysine acetyltransferase 6A (KAT6A) is a MYST-type histone acetyltransferase (HAT) enzyme identified as an oncogene in breast cancer, glioblastoma and leukemia. However, the specific functions of KAT6A in ovarian cancer remain unclear. Methods: Immunohistochemistry (IHC) staining and western blotting were performed to characterize KAT6A protein expression in ovarian cancer tissues and cell lines. The biological functions of KAT6A in ovarian cancer were evaluated by cell proliferation, wound healing and transwell invasion assays in vitro. Tumorigenesis and metastasis assays were performed in nude mice to detect the role of KAT6A in vivo. Mass spectrometry and immunoprecipitation assays were performed to detect the KAT6A-COP1 interaction. An in vivo ubiquitination assay was performed to determine the regulation of β-catenin by KAT6A. Results: In the present study, we revealed that KAT6A expression is upregulated in ovarian cancer and is associated with patient overall survival. Downregulation of KAT6A markedly inhibited the proliferation and migration abilities of ovarian cancer cells in vivo and in vitro. Additionally, the inhibition of KAT6A induced apoptosis and enhanced the sensitivity of ovarian cancer cells to cisplatin. Furthermore, KAT6A bound to and acetylated COP1 at K294. The acetylation of COP1 impaired COP1 function as an E3 ubiquitin ligase and led to the accumulation and enhanced activity of β-catenin. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the KAT6A/COP1/β-catenin signaling axis plays a critical role in ovarian cancer progression and that targeting the KAT6A/COP1/β-catenin signaling axis could be a novel strategy for treating ovarian cancer.
    Keywords:  COP1; KAT6A; acetylation; ovarian cancer; β-catenin
  18. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2021 May 18. pii: S0955-0674(21)00048-X. [Epub ahead of print]72 28-35
      Microenvironmental cues in tumors induce in a wide variety of cellular states that subsequently lead to cancer cells with distinct cellular identity, behavior, and fate. Recent literature suggests that the ability to change cellular states, a process defined as cell state plasticity, enable cells to rapidly adapt to their changing environment during tumor progression and metastasis. In this review, we will discuss how recent high-resolution intravital microscopy studies have been instrumental to reveal the real-time dynamics of tumor cell state plasticity during the different steps of the metastatic cascade. In addition, we will highlight the role of tumor plasticity during anticancer treatment response, and how plasticity can be used as a potential druggable target.
  19. Cancer Res. 2021 May 20. pii: canres.0214.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Human tissue samples commonly preserved as formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues after diagnostic or surgical procedures in the clinic represent an invaluable source of clinical specimens for in-depth characterization of signaling networks to assess therapeutic options. Tyrosine phosphorylation (pTyr) plays a fundamental role in cellular processes and is commonly dysregulated in cancer but has not been studied to date in FFPE samples. Additionally, pTyr analysis that may otherwise inform therapeutic interventions for patients has been limited by the requirement for large amounts of frozen tissue. Here we describe a method for highly sensitive, quantitative analysis of pTyr signaling networks, with hundreds of sites quantified from 1-2 10-µm sections of FFPE tissue specimens. A combination of optimized magnetic bead-based sample processing, optimized pTyr enrichment strategies, and TMT multiplexing enabled in depth coverage of pTyr signaling networks from small amounts of input material. Phosphotyrosine profiles of flash frozen and FFPE tissues derived from the same tumors suggested that FFPE tissues preserve pTyr signaling characteristics in patient-derived xenografts and archived clinical specimens. pTyr analysis of FFPE tissue sections from breast cancer tumors as well as lung cancer tumors highlighted patient-specific oncogenic driving kinases, indicating potential targeted therapies for each patient. These data suggest the capability for direct translational insight from pTyr analysis of small amounts of FFPE tumor tissue specimens.
  20. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(13): 6445-6460
      Background: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is relevant to the formation of thromboembolism and secondary neoplasms in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Chemotherapy-induced breast cancer cell-derived microparticles (BCMPs) may have important thrombogenic and pro-metastatic effects on platelets and endothelium, which may be related to the expression and distribution of phosphatidylserine (PS). However, investigating these interactions is challenging due to technical limitations. Methods: A study was conducted in 20 healthy individuals and 18 patients who had been recently diagnosed with TNBC and were undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy with doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide. BCMPs were isolated from patient blood samples and doxorubicin-treated breast cancer cell lines. Their structure and morphology were studied by electron microscopy and antigen levels were measured by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. In an inhibition assay, isolated BCMPs were pretreated with lactadherin or tissue factor antibodies. Platelets isolated from healthy subjects were treated with BCMPs and coagulation time, fibrin formation, and expression of intrinsic/extrinsic factor Xase (FXa) and thrombin were evaluated. The effects of BCMPs on endothelial thrombogenicity and integrity were assessed by confocal microscopy, electron microscopy, measurement of intrinsic/extrinsic FXa, prothrombinase assay, and transwell permeability assay. Results: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy significantly increased the expression of PS+ BCMPs in patient plasma. Its expression was associated with a rapid increase in procoagulant activity. Treatment with lactadherin, a PS-binding scavenging molecule, markedly reduced the adhesion of BCMPs and abolished their procoagulant activity, but this was not observed with tissue factor antibody treatment. Intravenous injection of BCMPs in mice induced a significant hypercoagulable state, reducing the extent of plasma fibrinogen and promoting the appearance of new thrombus. Cancer cells incubated with doxorubicin released large numbers of PS+ BCMPs, which stimulated and transformed endothelial cells into a procoagulant phenotype and increased the aggregation and activation of platelets. Moreover, cancer cells exploited this BCMP-induced endothelial leakiness and showed promoted metastasis. Pretreatment with lactadherin increased uptake of both PS+ BCMPs and cancer cells by endothelial cells and limited the transendothelial migration of cancer cells. Conclusion: Lactadherin, a biosensor that we developed, was used to study the extracellular vesicle distribution of PS, which revealed a novel PS+ BCMPs administrative axis that initiated a local coagulation cascade and facilitated metastatic colonization of circulating cancer cells.
    Keywords:  Phosphatidylserine; lactadherin.; procoagulation; transendothelial migration; tumor-derived microparticles
  21. Gastroenterology. 2021 May 13. pii: S0016-5085(21)02977-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND & AIMS: Next generation sequencing (NGS) was recently approved by the FDA to detect microsatellite instability (MSI) arising from defective mismatch repair (dMMR) in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) prior to treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI). In this study, we aimed to evaluate and improve the performance of NGS to identify MSI in CRC, especially dMMR mCRC treated with ICI.METHODS: CRC samples used in this post-hoc study were reassessed centrally for MSI and dMMR status using the reference methods of pentaplex PCR and immunohistochemistry (IHC). Whole exome (WES) was used to evaluate MSISensor, the FDA-approved and NGS-based method for assessment of MSI. This was performed in (i) a prospective, multicenter cohort (C1) of 102 mCRC patients (25 dMMR/MSI, 24 treated with ICI) from clinical trials NCT02840604 and NCT033501260, (ii) an independent retrospective, multicenter cohort of 113 patients (C2, 25 mCRC, 88 non-mCRC, all dMMR/MSI untreated with ICI), (iii) and a publicly available series of 118 CRC patients from the TCGA (C3, 51 dMMR/MSI). A new NGS-based algorithm, namely MSICare, was developed. Its performance for assessment of MSI was compared to MSISensor in C1, C2 and C3 at the exome-level or after downsampling sequencing data to the MSK-ImpactTM gene panel. MSICare was validated in an additional retrospective, multicenter cohort (C4) of 152 new CRC patients (137 dMMR/MSI) enriched in MSH6 and PMS2 deficient tumors (35 dMSH6, 9 dPMS2) following targeted sequencing of samples with an optimized set of microsatellite markers (MSIDIAG).
    RESULTS: At the exome-level, MSISensor was highly specific but failed to diagnose MSI in 16% of MSI/dMMR mCRC from C1 (4/25; sensitivity 84%, 95%CI: 63.9%-95.5%), 32% of mCRC (8/25; sensitivity 68%, 95%CI: 46.5%-85.1%) and 9.1% of nmCRC from C2 (8/88; sensitivity 90.9%, 95%CI: 82.9%-96%), and 9.8% of CRC from C3 (5/51; sensitivity 90.2%, 95%CI: 78.6%-96.7%). Misdiagnosis included 4 mCRCs treated with ICI of which 3 showed an overall response rate without progression at this date. At the exome-level, reevaluation of the MSI genomic signal using MSICare detected 100% of cases with true MSI status amongst C1 and C2. Further validation of MSICare was obtained in CRC tumors from C3, with 96.1% concordance for MSI status. Whereas misdiagnosis with MSISensor even increased when analyzing downsampled WES data from C1 and C2 with microsatellite markers restricted to the MSK-Impact gene panel (sensitivity 72.5%, 95%CI: 64.2-79.7%), particularly in MSH6 deficient setting, MSICare sensitivity and specificity remained optimal (100%). Similar results were obtained with MSICare following targeted NGS of tumors from C4 with the optimized microsatellite panel MSIDIAG (sensitivity 99.3%, 95%CI: 96%-100%; specificity 100%).
    CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to MSISensor, the new MSICare test we propose performs at least as efficiently as the reference method, MSI PCR, to detect MSI in CRC regardless of the defective MMR protein under both WES and targeted NGS conditions. We suggest MSICare may become rapidly a reference method for NGS-based testing of MSI in CRC, especially in mCRC where accurate MSI status is required before the prescription of ICI.
    Keywords:  Diagnostic test; Immunotherapy; Microsatellite instability (MSI); Mismatch repair deficiency (dMMR); Next-generation sequencing; Reference methods
  22. Oncogene. 2021 May 19.
      Membrane Type 1 Matrix Metalloprotease (MT1-MMP) contributes to the invasive progression of breast cancers by degrading extracellular matrix tissues. Nucleoside diphosphate kinase, NME1/NM23-H1, has been identified as a metastasis suppressor; however, its contribution to local invasion in breast cancer is not known. Here, we report that NME1 is up-regulated in ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) as compared to normal breast epithelial tissues. NME1 levels drop in microinvasive and invasive components of breast tumor cells relative to synchronous DCIS foci. We find a strong anti-correlation between NME1 and plasma membrane MT1-MMP levels in the invasive components of breast tumors, particularly in aggressive histological grade III and triple-negative breast cancers. Knockout of NME1 accelerates the invasive transition of breast tumors in the intraductal xenograft model. At the mechanistic level, we find that MT1-MMP, NME1 and dynamin-2, a GTPase known to require GTP production by NME1 for its membrane fission activity in the endocytic pathway, interact in clathrin-coated vesicles at the plasma membrane. Loss of NME1 function increases MT1-MMP surface levels by inhibiting endocytic clearance. As a consequence, the ECM degradation and invasive potentials of breast cancer cells are enhanced. This study identifies the down-modulation of NME1 as a potent driver of the in situ-to invasive transition during breast cancer progression.
  23. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(13): 6632-6643
      Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is one of the most aggressive and metastatic breast cancer subtypes lacking targeted therapy. Our recent work demonstrated that circulating tumor cell (CTC) clusters and polyclonal metastasis of TNBC are driven by aggregation of CD44+ cancer stem cells (CSC) and associated with an unfavorable prognosis, such as low overall survival. However, there is no existing therapeutic that can specifically block CTC or CSC cluster formation. Methods: Using patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models, we established an ex vivo tumor cell clustering assay for a pilot screening of blockade antibodies. After identifying EGFR as a target candidate, we modulated the gene expression and inhibited its kinase activity to determine its functional importance in tumor cell clustering and therapeutic inhibition of lung metastasis. We also examined the molecular regulation network of EGFR and a potential connection to CSC marker CD44 and microRNAs, which regulate CTC clustering. Results: We report here that EGFR inhibition successfully blocks circulating CSC (cCSC) clustering and lung metastasis of TNBC. EGFR enhances CD44-mediated tumor cell aggregation and CD44 stabilizes EGFR. Importantly, blocking EGFR by a novel anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody (clone LA1) effectively blocked cell aggregation in vitro and reduced lung metastasis in vivo. Furthermore, our data demonstrated that the tumor suppressor microRNA-30c serves as another negative regulator of cCSC clustering and lung metastasis by targeting CD44 as well as its downstream effector EGFR. Conclusion: Our studies identify a novel anti-EGFR therapeutic strategy to inhibit cCSC aggregation and therefore abolish cCSC cluster-mediated metastasis of TNBC.
    Keywords:  CTC cluster; EGFR; cancer stem cells; circulating cancer stem cell; circulating tumor cells; metastasis
  24. Cell. 2021 May 12. pii: S0092-8674(21)00502-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      Gene expression by RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) is tightly controlled by cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) at discrete checkpoints during the transcription cycle. The pausing checkpoint following transcription initiation is primarily controlled by CDK9. We discovered that CDK9-mediated, RNAPII-driven transcription is functionally opposed by a protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) complex that is recruited to transcription sites by the Integrator complex subunit INTS6. PP2A dynamically antagonizes phosphorylation of key CDK9 substrates including DSIF and RNAPII-CTD. Loss of INTS6 results in resistance to tumor cell death mediated by CDK9 inhibition, decreased turnover of CDK9 phospho-substrates, and amplification of acute oncogenic transcriptional responses. Pharmacological PP2A activation synergizes with CDK9 inhibition to kill both leukemic and solid tumor cells, providing therapeutic benefit in vivo. These data demonstrate that fine control of gene expression relies on the balance between kinase and phosphatase activity throughout the transcription cycle, a process dysregulated in cancer that can be exploited therapeutically.
    Keywords:  CDK9; CRISPR-Cas9 screen; CTD; Integrator; PP2A; PP2A activation; RNA polymerase II; cancer; pause-release; phosphatase; transcriptional elongation
  25. Cell Stem Cell. 2021 May 11. pii: S1934-5909(21)00187-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      NF1-associated malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are the major cause of mortality in neurofibromatosis. MPNSTs arise from benign peripheral nerve plexiform neurofibromas that originate in the embryonic neural crest cell lineage. Using reporter transgenes that label early neural crest lineage cells in multiple NF1 MPNST mouse models, we discover and characterize a rare MPNST cell population with stem-cell-like properties, including quiescence, that is essential for tumor initiation and relapse. Following isolation of these cells, we derive a cancer-stem-cell-specific gene expression signature that includes consensus embryonic neural crest genes and identify Nestin as a marker for the MPNST cell of origin. Combined targeting of cancer stem cells along with antimitotic chemotherapy yields effective tumor inhibition and prolongs survival. Enrichment of the cancer stem cell signature in cognate human tumors supports the generality and relevance of cancer stem cells to MPNST therapy development.
    Keywords:  MPNST; NF1; cancer stem cells; neural crest; neurofibromatosis; neurofibrosarcoma
  26. Cancer Cell. 2021 May 18. pii: S1535-6108(21)00222-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      The clinical use of molecular targeted therapy is rapidly evolving but has primarily focused on genomic alterations. Transcriptomic analysis offers an opportunity to dissect the complexity of tumors, including the tumor microenvironment (TME), a crucial mediator of cancer progression and therapeutic outcome. TME classification by transcriptomic analysis of >10,000 cancer patients identifies four distinct TME subtypes conserved across 20 different cancers. The TME subtypes correlate with patient response to immunotherapy in multiple cancers, with patients possessing immune-favorable TME subtypes benefiting the most from immunotherapy. Thus, the TME subtypes act as a generalized immunotherapy biomarker across many cancer types due to the inclusion of malignant and microenvironment components. A visual tool integrating transcriptomic and genomic data provides a global tumor portrait, describing the tumor framework, mutational load, immune composition, anti-tumor immunity, and immunosuppressive escape mechanisms. Integrative analyses plus visualization may aid in biomarker discovery and the personalization of therapeutic regimens.
    Keywords:  biomarker discovery; cancer; genomics; integrated analysis; transcriptomics; tumor microenvironment classification
  27. JCI Insight. 2021 May 18. pii: 138928. [Epub ahead of print]
      Metastases cause 90% of human cancer deaths. The metastatic cascade involves local invasion, intravasation, extravasation, metastatic site colonization, and proliferation. While individual mediators of these processes have been investigated, interactions between these mediators remain less well defined. We previously identified a complex between receptor tyrosine kinase c-Met and β1 integrin in metastases. Using novel cell culture and in vivo assays, we found that c-Met/β1 complex induction promotes intravasation and vessel wall adhesion in triple-negative breast cancer cells, but does not increase extravasation. These effects may be driven by the ability of the c-Met/β1 complex to increase mesenchymal and stem cell characteristics. Multiplex transcriptomic analysis revealed upregulated Wnt and hedgehog pathways after c-Met/β1 complex induction. A β1 integrin point mutation that prevented binding to c-Met reduced intravasation. OS2966, a therapeutic antibody disrupting c-Met/β1 binding, decreased breast cancer cell invasion and mesenchymal gene expression. Bone-seeking breast cancer cells exhibited higher c-Met/β1 complex levels than parental controls and preferentially adhered to tissue-specific matrix. Patient bone metastases demonstrated higher c-Met/β1 complex than brain metastases. Thus, the c-Met/β1 complex drives intravasation of triple-negative breast cancer cells and preferential affinity for bone-specific matrix. Pharmacological targeting of the complex may prevent metastases, particularly osseous metastases.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Integrins; Oncology
  28. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(13): 6334-6354
      Clinically, the primary cause of chemotherapy failure belongs to the occurrence of cancer multidrug resistance (MDR), which directly leads to the recurrence and metastasis of cancer along with high mortality. More and more attention has been paid to multifunctional nanoplatform-based dual-therapeutic combination to eliminate resistant cancers. In addition to helping both cargoes improve hydrophobicity and pharmacokinetic properties, increase bioavailability, release on demand and enhance therapeutic efficacy with low toxic effects, these smart co-delivery nanocarriers can even overcome drug resistance. Here, this review will not only present different types of co-delivery nanocarriers, but also summarize targeted and stimuli-responsive combination nanomedicines. Furthermore, we will focus on the recent progress in the co-delivery of dual-drug using such intelligent nanocarriers for surmounting cancer MDR. Whereas it remains to be seriously considered that there are some knotty issues in the fight against MDR of cancers via using co-delivery nanoplatforms, including limited intratumoral retention, the possible changes of combinatorial ratio under complex biological environments, drug release sequence from the nanocarriers, and subsequent free-drug resistance after detachment from the nanocarriers. It is hoped that, with the advantage of continuously developing nanomaterials, two personalized therapeutic agents in combination can be better exploited to achieve the goal of cooperatively combating cancer MDR, thus advancing the time to clinical transformation.
    Keywords:  cancer therapy; co-delivery; dual-drug; multidrug resistance; multifunctional nanoplatform
  29. Nat Commun. 2021 05 19. 12(1): 2940
      Resistance to endocrine treatment occurs in ~30% of ER+ breast cancer patients resulting in ~40,000 deaths/year in the USA. Preclinical studies strongly implicate activation of growth factor receptor, HER2 in endocrine treatment resistance. However, clinical trials of pan-HER inhibitors in ER+/HER2- patients have disappointed, likely due to a lack of predictive biomarkers. Here we demonstrate that loss of mismatch repair activates HER2 after endocrine treatment in ER+/HER2- breast cancer cells by protecting HER2 from protein trafficking. Additionally, HER2 activation is indispensable for endocrine treatment resistance in MutL- cells. Consequently, inhibiting HER2 restores sensitivity to endocrine treatment. Patient data from multiple clinical datasets supports an association between MutL loss, HER2 upregulation, and sensitivity to HER inhibitors in ER+/HER2- patients. These results provide strong rationale for MutL loss as a first-in-class predictive marker of sensitivity to combinatorial treatment with endocrine intervention and HER inhibitors in endocrine treatment-resistant ER+/HER2- breast cancer patients.
  30. Dev Cell. 2021 May 11. pii: S1534-5807(21)00360-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      Rank signaling enhances stemness in mouse and human mammary epithelial cells (MECs) and mediates mammary tumor initiation. Mammary tumors initiated by oncogenes or carcinogen exposure display high levels of Rank and Rank pathway inhibitors have emerged as a new strategy for breast cancer prevention and treatment. Here, we show that ectopic Rank expression in the mammary epithelia unexpectedly delays tumor onset and reduces tumor incidence in the oncogene-driven Neu and PyMT models. Mechanistically, we have found that ectopic expression of Rank or exposure to Rankl induces senescence, even in the absence of other oncogenic mutations. Rank leads to DNA damage and senescence through p16/p19. Moreover, RANK-induced senescence is essential for Rank-driven stemness, and although initially translates into delayed tumor growth, eventually promotes tumor progression and metastasis. We uncover a dual role for Rank in the mammary epithelia: Rank induces senescence and stemness, delaying tumor initiation but increasing tumor aggressiveness.
    Keywords:  breast cancer; mammary gland; metastasis; receptor activator of NFkB; senescence; senolytics; stemness
  31. Theranostics. 2021 ;11(13): 6427-6444
      Background: Reportedly, nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) patients with MHC I Class aberration are prone to poor survival outcomes, which indicates that the deficiency of tumor neoantigens might represent a mechanism of immune surveillance escape in NPC. Methods: To clearly delineate the landscape of neoantigens in NPC, we performed DNA and RNA sequencing on paired primary tumor, regional lymph node metastasis and distant metastasis samples from 26 patients. Neoantigens were predicted using pVACseq pipeline. Subtype prediction model was built using random forest algorithm. Results: Portraying the landscape of neoantigens in NPC for the first time, we found that the neoantigen load of NPC was above average compared to that of other cancers in The Cancer Genome Atlas program. While the quantity and quality of neoantigens were similar among primary tumor, regional lymph node metastasis and distant metastasis samples, neoantigen depletion was more severe in metastatic sites than in primary tumors. Upon tracking the clonality change of neoantigens, we found that neoantigen reduction occurred during metastasis. Building a subtype prediction model based on reported data, we observed that subtype I lacked T cells and suffered from severe neoantigen depletion, subtype II highly expressed immune checkpoint molecules and suffered from the least neoantigen depletion, and subtype III was heterogenous. Conclusions: These results indicate that neoantigens are conducive to the guidance of clinical treatment, and personalized therapeutic vaccines for NPC deserve deeper basic and clinical investigations to make them feasible in the future.
    Keywords:  metastasis; microenvironment; nasopharyngeal carcinoma; neoantigens; subtype
  32. Nat Immunol. 2021 May 20.
      Regulatory T (Treg) cells are a barrier for tumor immunity and a target for immunotherapy. Using single-cell transcriptomics, we found that CD4+ T cells infiltrating primary and metastatic colorectal cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer are highly enriched for two subsets of comparable size and suppressor function comprising forkhead box protein P3+ Treg and eomesodermin homolog (EOMES)+ type 1 regulatory T (Tr1)-like cells also expressing granzyme K and chitinase-3-like protein 2. EOMES+ Tr1-like cells, but not Treg cells, were clonally related to effector T cells and were clonally expanded in primary and metastatic tumors, which is consistent with their proliferation and differentiation in situ. Using chitinase-3-like protein 2 as a subset signature, we found that the EOMES+ Tr1-like subset correlates with disease progression but is also associated with response to programmed cell death protein 1-targeted immunotherapy. Collectively, these findings highlight the heterogeneity of Treg cells that accumulate in primary tumors and metastases and identify a new prospective target for cancer immunotherapy.
  33. Cell. 2021 May 13. pii: S0092-8674(21)00573-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      Clear cell renal carcinoma (ccRCC) is a heterogeneous disease with a variable post-surgical course. To assemble a comprehensive ccRCC tumor microenvironment (TME) atlas, we performed single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) of hematopoietic and non-hematopoietic subpopulations from tumor and tumor-adjacent tissue of treatment-naive ccRCC resections. We leveraged the VIPER algorithm to quantitate single-cell protein activity and validated this approach by comparison to flow cytometry. The analysis identified key TME subpopulations, as well as their master regulators and candidate cell-cell interactions, revealing clinically relevant populations, undetectable by gene-expression analysis. Specifically, we uncovered a tumor-specific macrophage subpopulation characterized by upregulation of TREM2/APOE/C1Q, validated by spatially resolved, quantitative multispectral immunofluorescence. In a large clinical validation cohort, these markers were significantly enriched in tumors from patients who recurred following surgery. The study thus identifies TREM2/APOE/C1Q-positive macrophage infiltration as a potential prognostic biomarker for ccRCC recurrence, as well as a candidate therapeutic target.
    Keywords:  CD8 T cell; Treg; clear cell renal carcinoma; clustering; gene regulatory networks; immunotherapy; post-surgical recurrence; protein activity inference; single-cell RNA sequencing; tumor microenvironment; tumor-infiltrating macrophage