bims-tucedo Biomed News
on Tumor cell dormancy
Issue of 2021‒06‒06
twenty-one papers selected by
Isabel Puig Borreil
Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology

  1. Mol Oncol. 2021 May 31.
      Dormant, disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) are thought to be the source of breast cancer metastases several years or even decades after initial treatment. To date, a selective therapy that leads to their elimination has not been discovered. While dormant DTCs resist chemotherapy, evidence suggests that this resistance is driven not by their lack of proliferation, but by their engagement of the surrounding microenvironment, via integrin-β1 mediated interactions. Because integrin-β1-targeted agents have not been translated readily to the clinic, signaling nodes downstream of integrin-β1 could serve as attractive therapeutic targets in order to sensitize dormant DTCs to therapy. By probing a number of kinases downstream of integrin-β1, we determined that PI3K inhibition with either a tool compounds or a compound (PF-05212384; aka Gedatolisib) in clinical trials robustly sensitizes quiescent breast tumor cells seeded in organotypic bone marrow cultures to chemotherapy. These results motivated the pre-clinical study of whether Gedatolisib-with or without genotoxic therapy- would reduce DTC burden and prevent metastases. Despite promising results in organotypic culture, Gedatolisib failed to reduce DTC burden or delay, reduce or prevent metastasis in murine models of either triple negative- or estrogen receptor-positive- breast cancer dissemination and metastasis. This result held true whether analyzing Gedatolisib on its own (vs. vehicle treated animals), or in combination with dose dense doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide (vs. animals treated only with dose dense chemotherapies). These data suggest that PI3K is not the node downstream of integrin-β1 that confers chemotherapeutic resistance to DTCs. More broadly, they cast doubt on the strategy to target PI3K in order to eliminate DTCs and prevent breast cancer metastasis.
    Keywords:  Breast Cancer; Disseminated Tumor Cell Dormancy; Gedatolisib; Integrin-β1; Metastasis; Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/PI3K
  2. Clin Cancer Res. 2021 Jun 03. pii: clincanres.CCR-21-1549-A.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      PURPOSE: Breast cancer diagnosed in young patients is often aggressive. Since primary breast tumors from young and older patients have similar mutational patterns, we hypothesized that the young host microenvironment promotes more aggressive metastatic disease.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Triple-negative or luminal B breast cancer cell lines were injected into old and young mice side-by-side to quantify lung, liver and brain metastases. Old and young mouse brains, metastatic and naïve, were analyzed by flow cytometry. Immune populations were depleted using antibodies or a colony stimulating factor-1 receptor (CSF-1R) inhibitor, and brain metastasis assays were conducted. Effects on myeloid populations, astrogliosis and the neuroinflammatory response was determined.
    RESULTS: Brain metastases were 2-4 fold higher in young as compared to old mouse hosts in four models of triple negative or luminal B breast cancer; no age effect was observed on liver or lung metastases. Aged brains, naïve or metastatic, contained fewer resident CNS myeloid cells. Use of a CSF-1R inhibitor to deplete myeloid cells, including both microglia and infiltrating macrophages, preferentially reduced brain metastasis burden in young mice. Downstream effects of CSF-1R inhibition in young mice resembled that of an aged brain in terms of myeloid numbers, induction of astrogliosis and the Semaphorin-3a secretion within the neuroinflammatory response.
    CONCLUSIONS: Host microenvironmental factors contribute to the aggressiveness of triple-negative and luminal B breast cancer brain metastasis. CSF-1R inhibitors may hold promise for young brain metastasis patients.
  3. Cancer Res. 2021 Jun 01. 81(11): 2918-2929
      The long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) SAMMSON is required for human melanoma cell growth and survival. However, whether SAMMSON regulates the response of mutant BRAF melanoma cells to RAF inhibitors remains unknown. In this work, we showed that SAMMSON is rapidly induced upon inhibition of ERK signaling, and SAMMSON overexpression conferred resistance to vemurafenib-induced cytotoxicity in melanoma cells. SOX10 mediated transcriptional induction of SAMMSON by vemurafenib, and SOX10 sumoylation at K55 was essential for this function. In addition, depletion of SAMMSON activated p53 signaling, which is dependent on the SAMMSON-interacting protein CARF. Depletion of SAMMSON sensitized mutant BRAF melanoma cells to RAF inhibitors in vitro and in vivo, while CARF knockdown reversed the enhanced sensitivity. In summary, these findings suggest that SAMMSON may function as a new mediator of adaptive resistance to RAF inhibitors in melanoma by modulating CARF-p53 signaling. SIGNIFICANCE: This study highlights the role of a SAMMSON/CARF/p53 signaling axis in modulating the adaptive resistance of mutant BRAF melanoma to RAF inhibitors.
  4. Breast Cancer Res. 2021 Jun 04. 23(1): 63
      BACKGROUND: Breast cancer mortality is principally due to tumor recurrence, which can occur following extended periods of clinical remission that may last decades. While clinical latency has been postulated to reflect the ability of residual tumor cells to persist in a dormant state, this hypothesis remains unproven since little is known about the biology of these cells. Consequently, defining the properties of residual tumor cells is an essential goal with important clinical implications for preventing recurrence and improving cancer outcomes.METHODS: To identify conserved features of residual tumor cells, we modeled minimal residual disease using inducible transgenic mouse models for HER2/neu and Wnt1-driven tumorigenesis that recapitulate cardinal features of human breast cancer progression, as well as human breast cancer cell xenografts subjected to targeted therapy. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting was used to isolate tumor cells from primary tumors, residual lesions following oncogene blockade, and recurrent tumors to analyze gene expression signatures and evaluate tumor-initiating cell properties.
    RESULTS: We demonstrate that residual tumor cells surviving oncogenic pathway inhibition at both local and distant sites exist in a state of cellular dormancy, despite adequate vascularization and the absence of adaptive immunity, and retain the ability to re-enter the cell cycle and give rise to recurrent tumors after extended latency periods. Compared to primary or recurrent tumor cells, dormant residual tumor cells possess unique features that are conserved across mouse models for human breast cancer driven by different oncogenes, and express a gene signature that is strongly associated with recurrence-free survival in breast cancer patients and similar to that of tumor cells in which dormancy is induced by the microenvironment. Although residual tumor cells in both the HER2/neu and Wnt1 models are enriched for phenotypic features associated with tumor-initiating cells, limiting dilution experiments revealed that residual tumor cells are not enriched for cells capable of giving rise to primary tumors, but are enriched for cells capable of giving rise to recurrent tumors, suggesting that tumor-initiating populations underlying primary tumorigenesis may be distinct from those that give rise to recurrence following therapy.
    CONCLUSIONS: Residual cancer cells surviving targeted therapy reside in a well-vascularized, desmoplastic microenvironment at both local and distant sites. These cells exist in a state of cellular dormancy that bears little resemblance to primary or recurrent tumor cells, but shares similarities with cells in which dormancy is induced by microenvironmental cues. Our observations suggest that dormancy may be a conserved response to targeted therapy independent of the oncogenic pathway inhibited or properties of the primary tumor, that the mechanisms underlying dormancy at local and distant sites may be related, and that the dormant state represents a potential therapeutic target for preventing cancer recurrence.
    Keywords:  Breast cancer; Dormancy; EMT; Gene expression; Quiescence; Recurrence; Residual disease; Stem cells; Targeted therapy
  5. Nat Cancer. 2020 Nov;1(11): 1082-1096
      Understanding the intricacies of lethal prostate cancer poses specific challenges due to difficulties in accurate modeling of metastasis in vivo. Here we show that NPK EYFP mice (for Nkx3.1 CreERT2/+ ; Pten flox/flox ; Kras LSL-G12D/+ ; R26R-CAG-LSL-EYFP/+) develop prostate cancer with a high penetrance of metastasis to bone, thereby enabling detection and tracking of bone metastasis in vivo and ex vivo. Transcriptomic and whole-exome analyses of bone metastasis from these mice revealed distinct molecular profiles conserved between human and mouse and specific patterns of subclonal branching from the primary tumor. Integrating bulk and single-cell transcriptomic data from mouse and human datasets with functional studies in vivo unravels a unique MYC/RAS co-activation signature associated with prostate cancer metastasis. Finally, we identify a gene signature with prognostic value for time to metastasis and predictive of treatment response in human patients undergoing androgen receptor therapy across clinical cohorts, thus uncovering conserved mechanisms of metastasis with potential translational significance.
  6. Nature. 2021 Jun 02.
      The persistence of undetectable disseminated tumour cells (DTCs) after primary tumour resection poses a major challenge to effective cancer treatment1-3. These enduring dormant DTCs are seeds of future metastases, and the mechanisms that switch them from dormancy to outgrowth require definition. Because cancer dormancy provides a unique therapeutic window for preventing metastatic disease, a comprehensive understanding of the distribution, composition and dynamics of reservoirs of dormant DTCs is imperative. Here we show that different tissue-specific microenvironments restrain or allow the progression of breast cancer in the liver-a frequent site of metastasis4 that is often associated with a poor prognosis5. Using mouse models, we show that there is a selective increase in natural killer (NK) cells in the dormant milieu. Adjuvant interleukin-15-based immunotherapy ensures an abundant pool of NK cells that sustains dormancy through interferon-γ signalling, thereby preventing hepatic metastases and prolonging survival. Exit from dormancy follows a marked contraction of the NK cell compartment and the concurrent accumulation of activated hepatic stellate cells (aHSCs). Our proteomics studies on liver co-cultures implicate the aHSC-secreted chemokine CXCL12 in the induction of NK cell quiescence through its cognate receptor CXCR4. CXCL12 expression and aHSC abundance are closely correlated in patients with liver metastases. Our data identify the interplay between NK cells and aHSCs as a master switch of cancer dormancy, and suggest that therapies aimed at normalizing the NK cell pool might succeed in preventing metastatic outgrowth.
  7. Cancers (Basel). 2021 May 28. pii: 2666. [Epub ahead of print]13(11):
      Drug resistance is perhaps the greatest challenge in improving outcomes for cancer patients undergoing treatment with targeted therapies. It is becoming clear that "persisters," a subpopulation of drug-tolerant cells found in cancer populations, play a critical role in the development of drug resistance. Persisters are able to maintain viability under therapy but are typically slow cycling or dormant. These cells do not harbor classic drug resistance driver alterations, and their partial resistance phenotype is transient and reversible upon removal of the drug. In the clinic, the persister state most closely corresponds to minimal residual disease from which relapse can occur if treatment is discontinued or if acquired drug resistance develops in response to continuous therapy. Thus, eliminating persister cells will be crucial to improve outcomes for cancer patients. Using lung cancer targeted therapies as a primary paradigm, this review will give an overview of the characteristics of drug-tolerant persister cells, mechanisms associated with drug tolerance, and potential therapeutic opportunities to target this persister cell population in tumors.
    Keywords:  acquired drug resistance; drug-tolerant persisters; targeted therapy
  8. J Clin Invest. 2021 Jun 01. pii: 146256. [Epub ahead of print]131(11):
      Hypoxia, a hallmark feature of the tumor microenvironment, causes resistance to conventional chemotherapy, but was recently reported to synergize with poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors (PARPis) in homologous recombination-proficient (HR-proficient) cells through suppression of HR. While this synergistic killing occurs under severe hypoxia (<0.5% oxygen), our study shows that moderate hypoxia (2% oxygen) instead promotes PARPi resistance in both HR-proficient and -deficient cancer cells. Mechanistically, we identify reduced ROS-induced DNA damage as the cause for the observed resistance. To determine the contribution of hypoxia to PARPi resistance in tumors, we used the hypoxic cytotoxin tirapazamine to selectively kill hypoxic tumor cells. We found that the selective elimination of hypoxic tumor cells led to a substantial antitumor response when used with PARPi compared with that in tumors treated with PARPi alone, without enhancing normal tissue toxicity. Since human breast cancers with BRAC1/2 mutations have an increased hypoxia signature and hypoxia reduces the efficacy of PARPi, then eliminating hypoxic tumor cells should enhance the efficacy of PARPi therapy.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Cell Biology; DNA repair; Hypoxia; Oncology
  9. Cell Metab. 2021 Jun 01. pii: S1550-4131(21)00229-1. [Epub ahead of print]33(6): 1065-1067
      The molecular regulation of cancer metastasis is not fully understood. In this issue of Cell Metabolism, Zhang et al. (2021) discover that creatine promotes cancer metastasis in mice by promoting activation of the MPS1-Smad2/3 axis.
  10. Mol Cancer. 2021 Jun 01. 20(1): 81
      BACKGROUND: Noncoding RNAs such as circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in the human body and influence the occurrence and development of various diseases. However, the biological functions of circRNAs in colorectal cancer (CRC) are largely unknown.METHODS: RT-qPCR was used to detect the expression of circRNAs and mRNA in CRC cells and tissues. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was used to analyze the location of circSPARC. Function-based experiments were performed using circSPARC knockdown and overexpression cell lines in vitro and in vivo, including CCK8, colony formation, transwell and metastasis models. Mechanistically, luciferase reporter assay, western blots, RNA immunoprecipitation (RIP), Chromatin isolation by RNA purification (ChIRP) and immunohistochemical stainings were performed.
    RESULTS: CircSPARC was upregulated in both the tissues and plasma of CRC patients. High expression of circSPARC was associated with advanced TNM stage, lymph node metastases, and poor survival. Silencing circSPARC inhibited CRC cell migration and proliferation in vitro and vivo. Mechanistically, circSPARC sponged miR-485-3p to upregulate JAK2 expression and ultimately contribute to the accumulation of phosphorylated (p)-STAT3. Besides, circSPARC recruited FUS, which facilitated the nuclear translocation of p-STAT3.
    CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that circSPARC might serve as a potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarker and a therapeutic target for CRC treatment by regulating JAK2/STAT3 pathway.
    Keywords:  Biomarker; Colorectal cancer; JAK/STAT signalling pathway; circRNA; circSPARC
  11. Mol Cancer. 2021 Jun 01. 20(1): 82
      Liquid biopsy is now considered a valuable diagnostic tool for advanced metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In NSCLC, circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) analysis has been shown to increase the chances of identifying the presence of targetable mutations and has been adopted by many clinicians owing to its low risk. Serial monitoring of ctDNA may also help assess the treatment response or for monitoring relapse. As the presence of detectable plasma ctDNA post-surgery likely indicates residual tumor burden, studies have been performed to quantify plasma ctDNA to assess minimal residual disease (MRD) in early-stage resected NSCLC. Most data on utilizing liquid biopsy for monitoring MRD in early-stage NSCLC are from small-scale studies using ctDNA. Here, we review the recent research on liquid biopsy in NSCLC, not limited to ctDNA, and focus on novel methods such as micro RNAs (miRNA) and long non-coding (lncRNA).
    Keywords:  Circulating nucleic acid; Early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); Liquid biopsy; Therapy monitoring, minimal residual disease (MRD); ctDNA; ctRNA; lncRNA; miRNA
  12. Oncogene. 2021 Jun 02.
      Invasion and metastasis are the leading causes of death in patients with breast cancer (BC), and epithelial-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) plays an essential role in this process. Here, we found that Lnc-408, a novel long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), is significantly upregulated in BC cells undergoing EMT and in BC tumor with lymphatic metastases compared with those without lymphatic metastases. Lnc-408 can enhance BC invasion and metastasis by regulating the expression of LIMK1. Mechanistically, Lnc-408 serves as a sponge for miR-654-5p to relieve the suppression of miR-654-5p on its target LIMK1. Knockdown or knockout of Lnc-408 in invasive BC cells clearly decreased LIMK1 levels, and ectopic Lnc-408 in MCF-7 cells increased LIMK1 expression to promote cell invasion. Lnc-408-mediated enhancement of LIMK1 plays a key role in cytoskeletal stability and promotes invadopodium formation in BC cells via p-cofilin/F-actin. In addition, the increased LIMK1 also facilitates the expression of MMP2, ITGB1, and COL1A1 by phosphorylating CREB. In conclusion, our findings reveal that Lnc-408 promotes BC invasion and metastasis via the Lnc-408/miR-654-5p/LIMK1 axis, highlighting a novel promising target for the diagnosis and treatment of BC.
  13. Nat Commun. 2021 06 03. 12(1): 3318
      Dormancy, a reversible quiescent cellular state characterized by greatly reduced metabolic activity, protects from genetic damage, prolongs survival and is crucial for tissue homeostasis and cellular response to injury or transplantation. Dormant cells have been characterized in many tissues, but their identification, isolation and characterization irrespective of tissue of origin remains elusive. Here, we develop a live cell ratiometric fluorescent Optical Stem Cell Activity Reporter (OSCAR) based on the observation that phosphorylation of RNA Polymerase II (RNApII), a hallmark of active mRNA transcription elongation, is largely absent in dormant stem cells from multiple lineages. Using the small intestinal crypt as a model, OSCAR reveals in real time the dynamics of dormancy induction and cellular differentiation in vitro, and allows the identification and isolation of several populations of transcriptionally diverse OSCARhigh and OSCARlow intestinal epithelial cell states in vivo. In particular, this reporter is able to identify a dormant OSCARhigh cell population in the small intestine. OSCAR therefore provides a tool for a better understanding of dormant stem cell biology.
  14. Oncogene. 2021 Jun 02.
      Prostate cancer (PC) is the second most common cancer with limited treatment option in males. Although the reactivation of embryonic signals in adult cells is one of the characteristics of cancer, the underlying protein degradation mechanism remains elusive. Here, we show that the molecular chaperone GRP75 is a key player in PC cells by maintaining the protein stability of SIX1, a transcription factor for embryonic development. Mechanistically, GRP75 provides a platform to recruit the deubiquitinating enzyme USP1 to inhibit K48-linked polyubiquitination of SIX1. Structurally, the C-terminus of GRP75 (433-679 aa) contains a peptide binding domain, which is required for the formation of GRP75-USP1-SIX1 protein complex. Functionally, pharmacological or genetic inhibition of the GRP75-USP1-SIX1 protein complex suppresses tumor growth and overcomes the castration resistance of PC cells in vitro and in xenograft mouse models. Clinically, the protein expression of SIX1 in PC tumor tissues is positively correlated with the expression of GRP75 and USP1. These new findings not only enhance our understanding of the protein degradation mechanism, but also may provide a potential way to enhance the anti-cancer activity of androgen suppression therapy.
  15. Cancer Discov. 2021 Jun 04.
      A macrophage population expressing C1QA/B/C, TREM2, and APOE predicted kidney cancer recurrence.
  16. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 May 04. pii: 4862. [Epub ahead of print]22(9):
      Tumor dormancy refers to a critical stage of cancer development when tumor cells are present, but cancer does not progress. It includes both the concept of cellular dormancy, indicating the reversible switch of a cancer cell to a quiescent state, and that of tumor mass dormancy, indicating the presence of neoplastic masses that have reached cell population equilibrium via balanced growth/apoptosis rates. Tumor dormancy provides the conceptual framework, potentially explaining a major challenge in clinical oncology, tumor recurrence, which may occur years after cancer diagnosis. The mechanisms by which tumors are kept dormant, and what triggers their reawakening, are fundamental questions in cancer biology. It seems that a plethora of intracellular pathways and extracellular factors are involved in this process, rewiring the cells to plastically alter their metabolic and proliferative status. This phenomenon is highly dynamic in space and time. Mechanistic insights into both cellular and tumor dormancy have provided the rationale for targeting this otherwise stable period of cancer development, in order to prevent recurrence and maximize therapeutic benefit.
    Keywords:  cellular dormancy; metastasis; tumor dormancy; tumor recurrence
  17. Cancer Res. 2021 Jun 01. 81(11): 2815-2816
      Metastatic spread to distant tissues and organs is responsible for most cancer-related mortalities. Changes in the invasiveness ability of metastatic tumor cells often come with significantly altered gene expression profiles compared with primary tumor cells. Identifying the main actors involved in the metastatic switch of tumor cells is key to proposed new therapeutic approaches. In this issue, the loss of growth-arrest specific 7 is described as one of the main events driving metastatic spread in neuroblastoma.See related article by Dong et al., p. 2995.
  18. Cancer Discov. 2021 Jun;11(6): 1324-1326
      In this issue of Cancer Discovery, Pullarkat and colleagues present the results from a phase I clinical trial that is the first to combine small-molecule inhibitors for multiple antiapoptotic proteins, BCL2 as well as BCL-XL, with a traditional chemotherapy backbone for patients with relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This trial has demonstrated impressive response rates with acceptable toxicity while providing proof of concept that dual targeting-hitting BCL2 hard and BCL-XL soft-is both effective and tolerable in a heterogeneous patient population with prior existing cytopenias.See related article by Pullarkat et al., p. 1440.
  19. Genes Dev. 2021 Jun;35(11-12): 787-820
      Colorectal cancer has served as a genetic and biological paradigm for the evolution of solid tumors, and these insights have illuminated early detection, risk stratification, prevention, and treatment principles. Employing the hallmarks of cancer framework, we provide a conceptual framework to understand how genetic alterations in colorectal cancer drive cancer cell biology properties and shape the heterotypic interactions across cells in the tumor microenvironment. This review details research advances pertaining to the genetics and biology of colorectal cancer, emerging concepts gleaned from immune and single-cell profiling, and critical advances and remaining knowledge gaps influencing the development of effective therapies for this cancer that remains a major public health burden.
    Keywords:  CRC; cancer genetics; cancer therapy development; colorectal cancer; tumor microenviornment