bims-tucedo Biomed News
on Tumor cell dormancy
Issue of 2021‒07‒04
seventeen papers selected by
Isabel Puig Borreil
Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology

  1. J Clin Med. 2021 Jun 16. pii: 2648. [Epub ahead of print]10(12):
      Prostate cancer has a variable clinical course, ranging from curable local disease to lethal metastatic spread. Eradicating metastatic cells is a unique challenge that is rarely met with the available therapies. Thus, targeting prostate cancer cells in earlier disease states is a crucial window of opportunity. Interestingly, cancer cells migrate from their primary site during pre-cancerous and malignant phases to seed secondary organs. These cells, known as disseminated cancer cells (DCCs), may remain dormant for months or decades before activating to form metastases. Bone marrow, a dormancy-permissive site, is the major organ for housed DCCs and eventual metastases in prostate cancer. The dynamic interplay between DCCs and the primary tumor microenvironment (TME), as well as that between DCCs and the secondary organ niche, controls the conversion between states of dormancy and activation. Here, we discuss recent discoveries that have improved our understanding of dormancy signaling and the role of the TME in modulating the epigenetic reprogramming of DCCs. We offer potential strategies to target DCCs in prostate cancer.
    Keywords:  azacytidine; bone marrow; dormancy; microenvironment; prostate cancer; retinoic acid
  2. Nat Cancer. 2021 Apr;2(4): 414-428
      Brain metastases are refractory to therapies that control systemic disease in patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2+) breast cancer, and the brain microenvironment contributes to this therapy resistance. Nutrient availability can vary across tissues, therefore metabolic adaptations required for brain metastatic breast cancer growth may introduce liabilities that can be exploited for therapy. Here, we assessed how metabolism differs between breast tumors in brain versus extracranial sites and found that fatty acid synthesis is elevated in breast tumors growing in brain. We determine that this phenotype is an adaptation to decreased lipid availability in brain relative to other tissues, resulting in a site-specific dependency on fatty acid synthesis for breast tumors growing at this site. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of fatty acid synthase (FASN) reduces HER2+ breast tumor growth in the brain, demonstrating that differences in nutrient availability across metastatic sites can result in targetable metabolic dependencies.
  3. Nat Commun. 2021 06 10. 12(1): 3516
      Profiling studies have revealed considerable phenotypic heterogeneity in cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) present within the tumour microenvironment, however, functional characterisation of different CAF subsets is hampered by the lack of specific markers defining these populations. Here we show that genetic deletion of the Endo180 (MRC2) receptor, predominantly expressed by a population of matrix-remodelling CAFs, profoundly limits tumour growth and metastasis; effects that can be recapitulated in 3D co-culture assays. This impairment results from a CAF-intrinsic contractility defect and reduced CAF viability, which coupled with the lack of phenotype in the normal mouse, demonstrates that upregulated Endo180 expression by a specific, potentially targetable CAF subset is required to generate a supportive tumour microenvironment. Further, characterisation of a tumour subline selected via serial in vivo passage for its ability to overcome these stromal defects provides important insight into, how tumour cells adapt to a non-activated stroma in the early stages of metastatic colonisation.
  4. Cancer Res. 2021 Jul 01. pii: canres.0772.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      In melanoma metastasis, the role of the AP-2alpha transcription factor, which is encoded by TFAP2A, is controversial as some findings have suggested tumor suppressor activity while other studies have shown high TFAP2A expression in node-positive melanoma associated with poor prognosis. Here we demonstrate that AP-2alpha facilitates melanoma metastasis through transcriptional activation of genes within the E2F pathway including EZH2. A BioID screen found that AP-2alpha interacts with members of the nucleosome remodeling and deacetylase (NuRD) complex. Loss of AP-2alpha removed activating chromatin marks in the promoters of EZH2 and other E2F target genes through activation of the NuRD repression complex. In melanoma cells, treatment with tazemetostat, an FDA-approved and highly specific EZH2 inhibitor, substantially reduced anchorage-independent colony formation and demonstrated heritable anti-metastatic effects, which were dependent on AP-2alpha. Single cell RNA-seq analysis of a metastatic melanoma mouse model revealed hyperexpansion of Tfap2aHigh/E2F-activated cell populations in transformed melanoma relative to progenitor melanocyte stem cells. These findings demonstrate that melanoma metastasis is driven by the AP-2alpha/EZH2 pathway and suggest that AP-2alpha expression can be used as a biomarker to predict responsiveness to EZH2 inhibitors for the treatment of advanced melanomas.
  5. Cancer Discov. 2021 Jun 28. pii: candisc.1647.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      AURORA aims to study the processes of relapse in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) by performing multi-omics profiling on paired primary tumors and early-course metastases. Among 381 patients (primary tumor and metastasis pairs: 252 TGS, 152 RNA-Seq, 67 SNP Arrays), we found a driver role for GATA1 and MEN1 somatic mutations. Metastases were enriched in ESR1, PTEN, CDH1, PIK3CA and RB1 mutations; MDM4, MYC amplifications; ARID1A deletions. An increase in clonality was observed in driver genes like ERBB2 and RB1. Intrinsic subtype switching occurred in 36% of cases. Luminal A/B to HER2-Enriched switching was associated with TP53 and/or PIK3CA mutations. Metastases had lower immune score and increased immune permissive cells. High TMB correlated to shorter time to relapse in HR+/HER2- cancers. ESCAT tier I/II alterations were detected in 51% of patients and matched therapy was used in 7%. Integration of multi-omics analyses in clinical practice could impact treatment strategies in MBC.
  6. Cancer Res. 2021 Jun 28. pii: canres.3251.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      The CD200-CD200R immunoregulatory signaling axis plays an etiological role in the survival and spread of numerous cancers primarily through suppression of anti-tumor immune surveillance. Our previous work outlined a pro-metastatic role for the CD200-CD200R axis in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) that is independent of direct T cell suppression but modulates the function of infiltrating myeloid cells. To identify effectors of the CD200-CD200R axis important for cSCC metastasis, we conducted RNA-Seq profiling of infiltrating CD11B+Cd200R+ cells isolated from CD200+ versus CD200-null cSCCs and identified the cysteine protease cathepsin K (Ctsk) to be highly upregulated in CD200+ cSCCs. CD11B+Cd200R+ cells expressed phenotypic markers associated with myeloid-derived suppressor cell-like cells and tumor-associated macrophages and were the primary source of Ctsk expression in cSCC. A Cd200R+ myeloid cell-cSCC co-culture system showed that induction of Ctsk was dependent on engagement of the CD200-CD200R axis, indicating that Ctsk is a target gene of this pathway in the cSCC tumor microenvironment. Inhibition of Ctsk, but not matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), significantly blocked cSCC cell migration in vitro. Finally, targeted CD200 disruption in tumor cells and Ctsk pharmacological inhibition significantly reduced cSCC metastasis in vivo. Collectively, these findings support the conclusion that CD200 stimulates cSCC invasion and metastasis via induction of Ctsk in CD200R+ infiltrating myeloid cells.
  7. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jul 06. pii: e2026271118. [Epub ahead of print]118(27):
      The liver is a major metastatic target organ, and little is known about the role of immunity in controlling hepatic metastases. Here, we discovered that the concerted and nonredundant action of two innate lymphocyte subpopulations, conventional natural killer cells (cNKs) and tissue-resident type I innate lymphoid cells (trILC1s), is essential for antimetastatic defense. Using different preclinical models for liver metastasis, we found that trILC1 controls metastatic seeding, whereas cNKs restrain outgrowth. Whereas the killing capacity of trILC1s was not affected by the metastatic microenvironment, the phenotype and function of cNK cells were affected in a cancer type-specific fashion. Thus, individual cancer cell lines orchestrate the emergence of unique cNK subsets, which respond differently to tumor-derived factors. Our findings will contribute to the development of therapies for liver metastasis involving hepatic innate cells.
    Keywords:  conventional NK cells; innate lymphocytes; metastatic surveillance; tissue-resident ILC1s
  8. Neuro Oncol. 2021 Jul 03. pii: noab159. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: Brain metastases (BM) are a frequent complication of malignant melanoma (MM), with limited treatment options and poor survival. Prevention of BM could be more effective and better tolerated than treating established BM in various conditions.METHODS: To investigate the temporo-spatial dynamics of PI3K/Akt/mTOR (PAM) pathway activation during BM formation and the preventive potential of its inhibition, in vivo molecular imaging with an Akt biosensor was performed, and long-term intravital multiphoton microscopy through a chronic cranial window in mice.
    RESULTS: In vivo molecular imaging revealed invariable PAM pathway activation during the earliest steps of brain colonization. In order to perform a long-term intravascular arrest and to extravasate, circulating MM cells needed to activate their PAM pathway during this process. However, the PAM pathway was quite heterogeneously activated in established human brain metastases, and its inhibition with the brain-penetrant PAM inhibitor GNE-317 resulted in only modest therapeutic effects in mice. In contrast, giving GNE-317 in preventive schedules that included very low doses effectively reduced growth rate and number of BM in two MM mouse models over time, and led to an overall survival benefit. Longitudinal intravital multiphoton microscopy found that the first, rate-limiting steps of BM formation - permanent intravascular arrest, extravasation, and initial perivascular growth - are most vulnerable to dual PI3K/mTOR inhibition.
    CONCLUSION: These findings establish a key role of PAM pathway activation for critical steps of early metastatic brain colonization and reveal its pharmacological inhibition as a potent avenue to prevent the formation of clinically relevant BM.
    Keywords:  PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway; brain metastasis; dual PI3K/mTOR inhibition; extravasation; tertiary prevention
  9. Nat Commun. 2021 Jul 02. 12(1): 4091
      Little is known about the transcriptomic plasticity and adaptive mechanisms of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) during hematogeneous dissemination. Here we interrogate the transcriptome of 113 single CTCs from 4 different vascular sites, including hepatic vein (HV), peripheral artery (PA), peripheral vein (PV) and portal vein (PoV) using single-cell full-length RNA sequencing in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. We reveal that the transcriptional dynamics of CTCs were associated with stress response, cell cycle and immune-evasion signaling during hematogeneous transportation. Besides, we identify chemokine CCL5 as an important mediator for CTC immune evasion. Mechanistically, overexpression of CCL5 in CTCs is transcriptionally regulated by p38-MAX signaling, which recruites regulatory T cells (Tregs) to facilitate immune escape and metastatic seeding of CTCs. Collectively, our results reveal a previously unappreciated spatial heterogeneity and an immune-escape mechanism of CTC, which may aid in designing new anti-metastasis therapeutic strategies in HCC.
  10. Oncogene. 2021 Jun 30.
      Colorectal cancer (CRC) cells have low or absent tumor cell PD-L1 expression that we previously demonstrated can confer chemotherapy resistance. Here, we demonstrate that PD-L1 depletion enhances JNK activity resulting in increased BimThr116 phosphorylation and its sequestration by MCL-1 and BCL-2. Activated JNK signaling in PD-L1-depeted cells was due to reduced mRNA stability of the CYLD deubiquitinase. PD-L1 was found to compete with the ribonuclease EXOSC10 for binding to CYLD mRNA. Thus, loss of PD-L1 promoted binding and degradation of CYLD mRNA by EXOSC10 which enhanced JNK activity. An irreversible JNK inhibitor (JNK-IN-8) reduced BimThr116 phosphorylation and unsequestered Bim from MCL-1 and BCL-2 to promote apoptosis. In cells lacking PD-L1, treatment with JNK-IN-8, an MCL-1 antagonist (AZD5991), or their combination promoted apoptosis and reduced long-term clonogenic survival by anticancer drugs. Similar effects of the JNK inhibitor on cell viability were observed in CRC organoids with suppression of PD-L1. These data indicate that JNK inhibition may represent a promising strategy to overcome drug resistance in CRC cells with low or absent PD-L1 expression.
  11. Nat Commun. 2021 Jun 29. 12(1): 4033
      In response to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), repair proteins are recruited to the damaged sites. Ubiquitin signaling plays a critical role in coordinating protein recruitment during the DNA damage response. Here, we find that the microRNA biogenesis factor DGCR8 promotes tumor resistance to X-ray radiation independently of its Drosha-binding ability. Upon radiation, the kinase ATM and the deubiquitinase USP51 mediate the activation and stabilization of DGCR8 through phosphorylation and deubiquitination. Specifically, radiation-induced ATM-dependent phosphorylation of DGCR8 at serine 677 facilitates USP51 to bind, deubiquitinate, and stabilize DGCR8, which leads to the recruitment of DGCR8 and DGCR8's binding partner RNF168 to MDC1 and RNF8 at DSBs. This, in turn, promotes ubiquitination of histone H2A, repair of DSBs, and radioresistance. Altogether, these findings reveal the non-canonical function of DGCR8 in DSB repair and suggest that radiation treatment may result in therapy-induced tumor radioresistance through ATM- and USP51-mediated activation and upregulation of DGCR8.
  12. J Immunother Cancer. 2021 Jul;pii: e002852. [Epub ahead of print]9(7):
      BACKGROUND: Resistance to an immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) is a major obstacle in cancer immunotherapy. The causes of ICI resistance include major histocompatibility complex (MHC)/histocompatibility locus antigen (HLA) class I loss, neoantigen loss, and incomplete antigen presentation. Elimination by natural killer (NK) cells would be expected to be an effective strategy for the treatment of these ICI-resistant tumors. We previously demonstrated that a lipid nanoparticle containing a stimulator of an interferon gene (STING) agonist (STING-LNP) efficiently induced antitumor activity via the activation of NK cells. Thus, we evaluated the potential of reducing ICI resistance by STING-LNPs.METHODS: Lung metastasis of a B16-F10 mouse melanoma was used as an anti-programmed cell death 1 (anti-PD-1)-resistant mouse model. The mice were intravenously injected with the STING-LNP and the mechanism responsible for the improvement of anti-PD-1 resistance by the STING-LNPs was analyzed by RT-qPCR and flow cytometry. The dynamics of STING-LNP were also investigated.
    RESULTS: Although anti-PD-1 monotherapy failed to induce an antitumor effect, the combination of the STING-LNP and anti-PD-1 exerted a synergistic antitumor effect. Our results indicate that the STING-LNP treatment significantly increased the expression of CD3, CD4, NK1.1, PD-1 and interferon (IFN)-γ in lung metastases. This change appears to be initiated by the type I IFN produced by liver macrophages that contain the internalized STING-LNPs, leading to the systemic activation of NK cells that express PD-1. The activated NK cells appeared to produce IFN-γ, resulting in an increase in the expression of the PD ligand 1 (PD-L1) in cancer cells, thus leading to a synergistic antitumor effect when anti-PD-1 is administered.
    CONCLUSIONS: We provide a demonstration to show that a STING-LNP treatment can overcome PD-1 resistance in a B16-F10 lung metastasis model. The mechanism responsible for this indicates that NK cells are activated by stimulating the STING pathway which, in turn, induced the expression of PD-L1 on cancer cells. Based on the findings reported herein, the STING-LNP represents a promising candidate for use in combination therapy with anti-PD-1-resistant tumors.
    Keywords:  adjuvants; combination; drug therapy; immunotherapy; killer cells; melanoma; natural; pharmaceutic
  13. Oncogene. 2021 Jun 28.
      Accumulation of mutant p53 (mutp53) is crucial for its oncogenic gain of function activity. DNAJA1, a member of J-domain containing proteins or heat shock protein 40, is shown to prevent unfolded mutp53 from proteasomal degradation. However, the biological function of DNAJA1 remains largely unknown. Here we show that DNAJA1 promotes tumor metastasis by accumulating unfolded mutp53. Levels of DNAJA1 in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) tissues were higher than those in normal tissues. Knockdown of DNAJA1 in HNSCC cell lines carrying unfolded mutp53 significantly decreased the levels of mutp53, filopodia/lamellipodia formation, migratory potential, and active forms of CDC42/RAC1, which were not observed in HNSCC cells with DNA contact mutp53, wild-type p53, or p53 null. Such mutp53-dependent functions of DNAJA1 were supported by the observation that DNAJA1 selectively bound to unfolded mutp53. Moreover, DNAJA1 knockdown in HNSCC cells carrying unfolded mutp53 inhibited primary tumor growth and metastases to the lymph nodes and lungs. Our study suggests that DNAJA1 promotes HNSCC metastasis mainly in a manner dependent on mutp53 status, suggesting DNAJA1 as a potential therapeutic target for HNSCC harboring unfolded mutp53.
  14. Drug Resist Updat. 2021 Jun 18. pii: S1368-7646(21)00028-5. [Epub ahead of print]57 100770
      The cytotoxic anti-cancer drugs cisplatin, paclitaxel, doxorubicin, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), as well as targeted drugs including imatinib, erlotinib, and nivolumab, play key roles in clinical cancer treatment. However, the frequent emergence of drug resistance severely comprosises their anti-cancer efficacy. A number of studies indicated that loss of function of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) is involved in the development of cancer drug resistance, apart from decreased drug influx, increased drug efflux, induction of anti-apoptosis mechanisms, alterations in tumor microenvironment, drug compartmentalization, enhanced DNA repair and drug inactivation. TSGs are involved in the pathogenesis of tumor formation through regulation of DNA damage repair, cell apoptosis, autophagy, proliferation, cell cycle progression, and signal transduction. Our increased understanding of TSGs in the past decades demonstrates that gene mutation is not the only reason that leads to the inactivation of TSGs. Loss of function of TSGs may be based on the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway, epigenetic and transcriptional regualtion, post-translation modifications like phosphorylation as well as cellular translocation of TSGs. As the above processes can constitute"druggable targets", these mechanisms provide novel therapeutic approaches in targeting TSGs. Some small molecule compounds targeting these approaches re-activated TSGs and reversed cancer drug resistance. Along this vein, functional restoration of TSGs is a novel and promising approach to surmount cancer drug resistance. In the current review, we draw a scenario based on the role of loss of function of TSGs in drug resistance, on mechanisms leading to inactivation of TSGs and on pharmacological agents acting on these mechanisms to overcome cancer drug resistance. This review discusses novel therapeutic strategies targeting TSGs and offers possible modalities to conquer cancer drug resistance.
    Keywords:  Cancer management; Drug resistance; Functional restoration of TSGs; Loss of function; Tumor suppressor genes
  15. Nat Commun. 2021 Jun 29. 12(1): 4031
      The response of patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme to neoadjuvant immune checkpoint blockade has been challenging to interpret due to the inter-patient and intra-tumor heterogeneity. We report on a comparative analysis of tumor tissues collected from patients with recurrent glioblastoma and high-risk melanoma, both treated with neoadjuvant checkpoint blockade. We develop a framework that uses multiplex spatial protein profiling, machine learning-based image analysis, and data-driven computational models to investigate the pathophysiological and molecular factors within the tumor microenvironment that influence treatment response. Using melanoma to guide the interpretation of glioblastoma analyses, we interrogate the protein expression in microscopic compartments of tumors, and determine the correlates of cytotoxic CD8+ T cells, tumor growth, treatment response, and immune cell-cell interaction. This work reveals similarities shared between glioblastoma and melanoma, immunosuppressive factors that are unique to the glioblastoma microenvironment, and potential co-targets for enhancing the efficacy of neoadjuvant immune checkpoint blockade.
  16. Cancer Res. 2021 Jun 30. pii: canres.3150.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) is secreted by cancer cells into the extracellular milieu, where it exerts pro-tumoral activities by activating extracellular substrate proteins and triggering autocrine signals through cancer cell surface receptors. Emerging evidence indicates that HSP90 co-chaperones are also secreted and may direct HSP90 extracellular activities. In this study, we found that the HSP90 co-chaperone Morgana is released by cancer cells and, in association with HSP90, induces cancer cell migration through TLR2, TLR4, and LRP1. In syngeneic cancer mouse models, a monoclonal antibody targeting Morgana extracellular activity reduced primary tumor growth via macrophage-dependent recruitment of CD8+ T lymphocytes, blocked cancer cell migration, and inhibited metastatic spreading. Overall, this data defines Morgana as a new player in the HSP90 extracellular interactome and suggests that Morgana may regulate HSP90 activity to promote cancer cell migration and suppress anti-tumor immunity.
  17. Nat Cancer. 2021 Mar;2(3): 300-311
      While T-cell responses to cancer immunotherapy have been avidly studied, long-lived memory has been poorly characterized. In a cohort of metastatic melanoma survivors with exceptional responses to immunotherapy, we probed memory CD8+ T-cell responses across tissues, and across several years. Single-cell RNA sequencing revealed three subsets of resident memory T (TRM) cells shared between tumors and distant vitiligo-affected skin. Paired T-cell receptor sequencing further identified clonotypes in tumors that co-existed as TRM in skin and as effector memory T (TEM) cells in blood. Clonotypes that dispersed throughout tumor, skin, and blood preferentially expressed a IFNG / TNF-high signature, which had a strong prognostic value for melanoma patients. Remarkably, clonotypes from tumors were found in patient skin and blood up to nine years later, with skin maintaining the most focused tumor-associated clonal repertoire. These studies reveal that cancer survivors can maintain durable memory as functional, broadly-distributed TRM and TEM compartments.