bims-tucedo Biomed News
on Tumor cell dormancy
Issue of 2021‒09‒26
28 papers selected by
Isabel Puig Borreil
Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology

  1. Cancer Discov. 2021 Sep 22. pii: candisc.1826.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      The degree of metastatic disease varies widely amongst cancer patients and impacts clinical outcomes. However, the biological and functional differences that drive the extent of metastasis are poorly understood. We analyzed primary tumors and paired metastases using a multi-fluorescent lineage-labeled mouse model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) - a tumor type where most patients present with metastases. Genomic and transcriptomic analysis revealed an association between metastatic burden and gene amplification or transcriptional upregulation of MYC and its downstream targets. Functional experiments showed that MYC promotes metastasis by recruiting tumor associated macrophages (TAMs), leading to greater bloodstream intravasation. Consistent with these findings, metastatic progression in human PDAC was associated with activation of MYC signaling pathways and enrichment for MYC amplifications specifically in metastatic patients. Collectively, these results implicate MYC activity as a major determinant of metastatic burden in advanced PDAC.
  2. Cancer Discov. 2021 Sep 20. pii: candisc.1726.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 (CDK4/6), represent a major therapeutic vulnerability for breast cancer. The kinases are clinically targeted via ATP competitive inhibitors (CDK4/6i); however, drug resistance commonly emerges over time. To understand CDK4/6i resistance, we surveyed over 1,300 breast cancers and identify several genetic alterations (e.g. FAT1, PTEN or ARID1A loss) converging on upregulation of CDK6. Mechanistically, we demonstrate CDK6 causes resistance by inducing and binding CDK inhibitor INK4 proteins (e.g. p18INK4C). In vitro binding and kinase assays together with physical modeling reveal that the p18INK4C/D-cyclin/CDK6 complex occludes CDK4/6i binding while only weakly suppressing ATP binding. Suppression of INK4 expression or its binding to CDK6 restores CDK4/6i sensitivity. To overcome this constraint, we developed bifunctional degraders conjugating palbociclib with E3 ligands. Two resulting lead compounds potently degraded CDK4/6, leading to substantial antitumor effects in vivo, demonstrating the promising therapeutic potential for retargeting CDK4/6 despite CDK4/6i resistance.
  3. Cancer Discov. 2021 Sep 24. pii: candisc.0248.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      SMARCA4/BRG1 encodes for one of two mutually exclusive ATPases present in mammalian SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes and is frequently mutated in human lung adenocarcinoma. However, the functional consequences of SMARCA4 mutation on tumor initiation, progression, and chromatin regulation in lung cancer remain poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that loss of Smarca4 sensitizes CCSP+ cells within the lung in a cell-type dependent fashion to malignant transformation and tumor progression, resulting in highly advanced dedifferentiated tumors and increased metastatic incidence. Consistent with these phenotypes, Smarca4-deficient primary tumors lack lung lineage transcription factor activities and resemble a metastatic cell state. Mechanistically, we show that Smarca4 loss impairs the function of all three classes of SWI/SNF complexes, resulting in decreased chromatin accessibility at lung lineage motifs and ultimately accelerating tumor progression. Thus, we propose that the SWI/SNF complex - via Smarca4 - acts as a gatekeeper for lineage-specific cellular transformation and metastasis during lung cancer evolution.
  4. Clin Cancer Res. 2021 Sep 20. pii: clincanres.0361.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      PURPOSE: The survival of women with brain metastases (BM) from breast cancer remains very poor with over 80% dying within a year of their diagnosis. Here we define the function of IL13Rα2 in outgrowth of breast cancer brain metastases (BCBM) in vitro and in vivo, and postulate IL13Rα2 as a suitable therapeutic target for BM.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We performed IHC staining of IL13Rα2 in BCBM to define its prognostic value. Using inducible-shRNAs in TNBC and HER2+ breast-brain metastatic models we assessed IL13Rα2 function in vitro and in vivo We performed RNAseq and functional studies to define the molecular mechanisms underlying IL13Rα2 function in BCBM.
    RESULTS: High IL13Rα2 expression in BCBM predicted worse survival after BM diagnoses. IL13Rα2 was essential for cancer-cell survival, promoting proliferation while repressing invasion. IL13Rα2 KD resulted in FAK downregulation, repression of cell cycle and proliferation mediators and upregulation of Ephrin B1 signaling. Ephrin-B1 (i) promoted invasion of BC cells in vitro, (ii) marked micrometastasis and invasive fronts in BCBM, (iii) predicted shorter disease-free survival (DFS) and BM-free survival (BMFS) in breast primary tumors known to metastasize to the brain. In experimental metastases models, which bypass early tumor invasion, downregulation of IL13Rα2 prior or after tumor seeding and brain intravasation decreased BMs, suggesting that IL13Rα2 and the promotion of a proliferative phenotype is critical to BM progression.
    CONCLUSIONS: Non-genomic phenotypic adaptations at metastatic sites are critical to BM progression and patients' prognosis. This study opens the road to use IL13Rα2-targeting as a therapeutic strategy for BM.
  5. Oncogene. 2021 Sep 20.
      Canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling is an established regulator of cellular state and its critical contributions to tumor initiation, malignant tumor progression and metastasis formation have been demonstrated in various cancer types. Here, we investigated how the binding of β-catenin to the transcriptional coactivators B-cell CLL/lymphoma 9 (Bcl9) and Bcl9-Like (Bcl9L) affected mammary gland carcinogenesis in the MMTV-PyMT transgenic mouse model of metastatic breast cancer. Conditional knockout of both Bcl9 and Bcl9L resulted into tumor cell death. In contrast, disrupting the interaction of Bcl9/Bcl9L with β-catenin, either by deletion of their HD2 domains or by a point mutation in the N-terminal domain of β-catenin (D164A), diminished primary tumor growth and tumor cell proliferation and reduced tumor cell invasion and lung metastasis. In comparison, the disruption of HD1 domain-mediated binding of Bcl9/Bcl9L to Pygopus had only moderate effects. Interestingly, interfering with the β-catenin-Bcl9/Bcl9L-Pygo chain of adapters only partially impaired the transcriptional response of mammary tumor cells to Wnt3a and TGFβ treatments. Together, the results indicate that Bcl9/Bcl9L modulate but are not critically required for canonical Wnt signaling in its contribution to breast cancer growth and malignant progression, a notion consistent with the "just-right" hypothesis of Wnt-driven tumor progression.
  6. Nat Commun. 2021 Sep 23. 12(1): 5606
      Immune checkpoint therapy (ICT) provides substantial clinical benefits to cancer patients, but a large proportion of cancers do not respond to ICT. To date, the genomic underpinnings of primary resistance to ICT remain elusive. Here, we performed immunogenomic analysis of data from TCGA and clinical trials of anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy, with a particular focus on homozygous deletion of 9p21.3 (9p21 loss), one of the most frequent genomic defects occurring in ~13% of all cancers. We demonstrate that 9p21 loss confers "cold" tumor-immune phenotypes, characterized by reduced abundance of tumor-infiltrating leukocytes (TILs), particularly, T/B/NK cells, altered spatial TILs patterns, diminished immune cell trafficking/activation, decreased rate of PD-L1 positivity, along with activation of immunosuppressive signaling. Notably, patients with 9p21 loss exhibited significantly lower response rates to ICT and worse outcomes, which were corroborated in eight ICT trials of >1,000 patients. Further, 9p21 loss synergizes with PD-L1/TMB for patient stratification. A "response score" was derived by incorporating 9p21 loss, PD-L1 expression and TMB levels in pre-treatment tumors, which outperforms PD-L1, TMB, and their combination in identifying patients with high likelihood of achieving sustained response from otherwise non-responders. Moreover, we describe potential druggable targets in 9p21-loss tumors, which could be exploited to design rational therapeutic interventions.
  7. J Clin Invest. 2021 Sep 23. pii: e147849. [Epub ahead of print]
      Bladder cancer is a genetically heterogeneous disease and novel therapeutic strategies are needed to expand treatment options and improve clinical outcomes. Here we identified a unique subset of urothelial tumors with focal amplification of the RAF1 (CRAF) kinase gene. RAF1-amplified tumors had activation of the RAF/MEK/ERK signaling pathway and exhibited a luminal gene expression pattern. Genetic studies demonstrated that RAF1-amplified tumors were dependent upon RAF1 activity for survival, and RAF1-activated cell lines and patient-derived models were sensitive to available and emerging RAF inhibitors as well as combined RAF plus MEK inhibition. Furthermore, we found that bladder tumors with HRAS or NRAS activating mutations were dependent on RAF1-mediated signaling and were sensitive to RAF1-targeted therapy. Together, these data identified RAF1 activation as a novel dependency in a subset comprising nearly 20% of urothelial tumors and suggested that targeting RAF1-mediated signaling represents a rationale therapeutic strategy.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Drug therapy; Oncogenes; Oncology
  8. Cancer Res. 2021 Sep 22. pii: canres.4226.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      The tumor microenvironment plays a critical role in maintaining the immature phenotype of tumor-initiating cells (TIC) to promote cancer. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a unique disease in that it develops in the setting of fibrosis and cirrhosis. This pathological state commonly shows an enrichment of stromal myofibroblasts, which constitute the bulk of the tumor microenvironment and contribute to disease progression. Follistatin-like 1 (FSTL1) has been widely reported as a pro-inflammatory mediator in different fibrosis-related and inflammatory diseases. Here we show FSTL1 expression to be closely correlated with activated fibroblasts and to be elevated in regenerative, fibrotic, and disease liver states in various mouse models. Consistently, FSTL1 lineage cells gave rise to myofibroblasts in a CCL4-induced hepatic fibrosis mouse model. Clinically, high FSTL1 in FAP+ fibroblasts were significantly correlated with more advanced tumors in HCC patients. Although FSTL1 was expressed in primary fibroblasts derived from HCC patients, it was barely detectable in HCC cell lines. Functional investigations revealed that treatment of HCC cells and patient-derived 3D organoids with recombinant FSTL1 or with conditioned medium collected from hepatic stellate cells or from cells overexpressing FSTL1 could promote HCC growth and metastasis. FSTL1 bound to TLR4 receptor, resulting in activation of AKT/mTOR/4EBP1 signaling. In a pre-clinical mouse model, blockade of FSTL1 mitigated HCC malignancy and metastasis, sensitized HCC tumors to sorafenib, prolonged survival, and eradicated the TIC subset. Collectively, these data suggest that FSTL1 may serve as an important novel diagnostic/prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target in HCC.
  9. Cancer Discov. 2021 Sep 24.
      TraCe-seq was able to identify pathways that can mediate differential response to EGFR inhibitors.
  10. Cell. 2021 Sep 18. pii: S0092-8674(21)01047-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Estrogen receptor α (ERα) is a hormone receptor and key driver for over 70% of breast cancers that has been studied for decades as a transcription factor. Unexpectedly, we discover that ERα is a potent non-canonical RNA-binding protein. We show that ERα RNA binding function is uncoupled from its activity to bind DNA and critical for breast cancer progression. Employing genome-wide cross-linking immunoprecipitation (CLIP) sequencing and a functional CRISPRi screen, we find that ERα-associated mRNAs sustain cancer cell fitness and elicit cellular responses to stress. Mechanistically, ERα controls different steps of RNA metabolism. In particular, we demonstrate that ERα RNA binding mediates alternative splicing of XBP1 and translation of the eIF4G2 and MCL1 mRNAs, which facilitates survival upon stress conditions and sustains tamoxifen resistance of cancer cells. ERα is therefore a multifaceted RNA-binding protein, and this activity transforms our knowledge of post-transcriptional regulation underlying cancer development and drug response.
    Keywords:  ERα; RNA splicing; RNA-binding protein; breast cancer; cell survival; integrated stress response; translation control
  11. Cancer Res. 2021 Sep 22. pii: canres.0955.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a form of hepatobiliary cancer with an abysmal prognosis. Despite advances in our understanding of CCA pathophysiology and its genomic landscape, targeted therapies have not yet made a significant impact on its clinical management. The low response rates of targeted therapies in CCA suggests that patient heterogeneity contributes to poor clinical outcome. Here we used mass spectrometry-based phosphoproteomics and computational methods to identify patient-specific drug targets in patient tumors and CCA-derived cell lines. We analyzed 13 primary CCA patient tumors with matched non-malignant tissue and 7 different CCA cell lines, leading to the identification and quantification of >13,000 phosphorylation sites. The phosphoproteomes of CCA cell lines and patient tumors were significantly correlated. MEK1, KIT, ERK1/2, and several cyclin-dependent kinases were among the protein kinases most frequently showing increased activity in CCA relative to non-malignant tissue. Application of the Drug Ranking Using Machine Learning (DRUML) algorithm selected inhibitors of HDAC (belinostat and CAY10603) and PI3K pathway members as high-ranking therapies to use in primary CCA. The accuracy of the computational drug rankings based on predicted responses was confirmed in cell line models of CCA. Together, this study uncovers frequently activated biochemical pathways in CCA and provides a proof of concept for the application of computational methodology to rank drugs based on efficacy in individual patients.
  12. JAMA Oncol. 2021 Sep 23.
      Importance: Luminal and basal subtypes of primary prostate cancer have been shown to be molecularly distinct and clinically important in predicting response to therapy. These subtypes have not been described in metastatic prostate cancer.Objectives: To identify clinical and molecular correlates of luminal and basal subtypes in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) and investigate differences in survival, particularly after treatment with androgen-signaling inhibitors (ASIs).
    Design, Setting, and Participants: In this cohort study, a retrospective analysis was conducted of 4 cohorts with mCRPC (N = 634) across multiple academic centers. Treatment was at the physicians' discretion. Details of the study cohorts have been published elsewhere between 2016 and 2019. Data were analyzed from March 2018 to February 2021.
    Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary clinical end point was overall survival from the date of tissue biopsy/molecular profiling. Luminal and basal subtypes were also stratified by postbiopsy ASI treatment. The primary molecular analyses included associations with small cell/neuroendocrine prostate cancer (SCNC), molecular pathways, and DNA alterations.
    Results: In the 634 patients, 288 (45%) had tumors classified as luminal, and 346 (55%) had tumors classified as basal. However, 53 of 59 (90%) SCNC tumors were basal (P < .001). Similar to primary prostate cancer, luminal tumors exhibited overexpression of AR pathway genes. In basal tumors, a significantly higher rate of RB1 loss (23% basal vs 4% luminal; P < .001), FOXA1 alterations (36% basal vs 27% luminal; P = .03) and MYC alterations (73% basal vs 56% luminal; P < .001) were identified. Patients with basal tumors had worse overall survival compared with those with luminal tumors only in patients treated with an ASI postbiopsy (East Coast Dream Team: hazard ratio [HR], 0.39; 95% CI, 0.20-0.74; P = .004; West Coast Dream Team: HR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.33-0.97; P = .04). Among patients with luminal tumors, those treated with an ASI had significantly better survival (HR, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.14-0.53; P < .001), whereas patients with basal tumors did not (HR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.36-1.04, P = .07). The interaction term between subtype and ASI treatment was statistically significant (HR, 0.42; 95% CI, 0.20-0.89; P = .02).
    Conclusions and Relevance: These findings represent the largest integrated clinical, transcriptomic, and genomic analysis of mCRPC samples to date, and suggest that mCRPC can be classified as luminal and basal tumors. Analogous to primary prostate cancer, these data suggest that the benefit of ASI treatment is more pronounced in luminal tumors and support the use of ASIs in this population. In the basal tumors, a chemotherapeutic approach could be considered in some patients given the similarity to SCNC and the diminished benefit of ASI therapy. Further validation in prospective clinical trials is warranted.
  13. NPJ Genom Med. 2021 Sep 21. 6(1): 76
      We are now in an era of molecular medicine, where specific DNA alterations can be used to identify patients who will respond to specific drugs. However, there are only a handful of clinically used predictive biomarkers in oncology. Herein, we describe an approach utilizing in vitro DNA and RNA sequencing and drug response data to create TreAtment Response Generalized Elastic-neT Signatures (TARGETS). We trained TARGETS drug response models using Elastic-Net regression in the publicly available Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer (GDSC) database. Models were then validated on additional in-vitro data from the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia (CCLE), and on clinical samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and Stand Up to Cancer/Prostate Cancer Foundation West Coast Prostate Cancer Dream Team (WCDT). First, we demonstrated that all TARGETS models successfully predicted treatment response in the separate in-vitro CCLE treatment response dataset. Next, we evaluated all FDA-approved biomarker-based cancer drug indications in TCGA and demonstrated that TARGETS predictions were concordant with established clinical indications. Finally, we performed independent clinical validation in the WCDT and found that the TARGETS AR signaling inhibitors (ARSI) signature successfully predicted clinical treatment response in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer with a statistically significant interaction between the TARGETS score and PSA response (p = 0.0252). TARGETS represents a pan-cancer, platform-independent approach to predict response to oncologic therapies and could be used as a tool to better select patients for existing therapies as well as identify new indications for testing in prospective clinical trials.
  14. Mol Cell. 2021 Sep 18. pii: S1097-2765(21)00739-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Inhibitors of poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR) polymerase (PARPi) have entered the clinic for the treatment of homologous recombination (HR)-deficient cancers. Despite the success of this approach, preclinical and clinical research with PARPi has revealed multiple resistance mechanisms, highlighting the need for identification of novel functional biomarkers and combination treatment strategies. Functional genetic screens performed in cells and organoids that acquired resistance to PARPi by loss of 53BP1 identified loss of LIG3 as an enhancer of PARPi toxicity in BRCA1-deficient cells. Enhancement of PARPi toxicity by LIG3 depletion is dependent on BRCA1 deficiency but independent of the loss of 53BP1 pathway. Mechanistically, we show that LIG3 loss promotes formation of MRE11-mediated post-replicative ssDNA gaps in BRCA1-deficient and BRCA1/53BP1 double-deficient cells exposed to PARPi, leading to an accumulation of chromosomal abnormalities. LIG3 depletion also enhances efficacy of PARPi against BRCA1-deficient mammary tumors in mice, suggesting LIG3 as a potential therapeutic target.
    Keywords:  53BP1; BRCA1; DNA damage response; DNA ligase III; PARP1, PARP inhibitor; drug resistance; replication fork; ssDNA gaps; vulnerabilities
  15. Cell Metab. 2021 Sep 17. pii: S1550-4131(21)00421-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      One of the defining characteristics of a pre-metastatic niche, a fundamental requirement for primary tumor metastasis, is infiltration of immunosuppressive macrophages. How these macrophages acquire their phenotype remains largely unexplored. Here, we demonstrate that tumor-derived exosomes (TDEs) polarize macrophages toward an immunosuppressive phenotype characterized by increased PD-L1 expression through NF-kB-dependent, glycolytic-dominant metabolic reprogramming. TDE signaling through TLR2 and NF-κB leads to increased glucose uptake. TDEs also stimulate elevated NOS2, which inhibits mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation resulting in increased conversion of pyruvate to lactate. Lactate feeds back on NF-κB, further increasing PD-L1. Analysis of metastasis-negative lymph nodes of non-small-cell lung cancer patients revealed that macrophage PD-L1 positively correlates with levels of GLUT-1 and vesicle release gene YKT6 from primary tumors. Collectively, our study provides a novel mechanism by which macrophages within a pre-metastatic niche acquire their immunosuppressive phenotype and identifies an important link among exosomes, metabolism, and metastasis.
    Keywords:  NF-kB; PD-L1; exosomes; glycolysis; immunosuppression; lactate; metastasis
  16. Cell. 2021 Sep 15. pii: S0092-8674(21)01046-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Although mutations leading to a compromised nuclear envelope cause diseases such as muscular dystrophies or accelerated aging, the consequences of mechanically induced nuclear envelope ruptures are less known. Here, we show that nuclear envelope ruptures induce DNA damage that promotes senescence in non-transformed cells and induces an invasive phenotype in human breast cancer cells. We find that the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated exonuclease TREX1 translocates into the nucleus after nuclear envelope rupture and is required to induce DNA damage. Inside the mammary duct, cellular crowding leads to nuclear envelope ruptures that generate TREX1-dependent DNA damage, thereby driving the progression of in situ carcinoma to the invasive stage. DNA damage and nuclear envelope rupture markers were also enriched at the invasive edge of human tumors. We propose that DNA damage in mechanically challenged nuclei could affect the pathophysiology of crowded tissues by modulating proliferation and extracellular matrix degradation of normal and transformed cells.
    Keywords:  TREX1, nuclear envelope rupture, DNA damage, mammary duct carcinoma, tumor invasion, senescence, breast cancer, cGAS, confinement, epithelial to mesenchymal transition
  17. Oncogene. 2021 Sep 23.
      ISG15 is an ubiquitin-like modifier that is associated with reduced survival rates in breast cancer patients. The mechanism by which ISG15 achieves this however remains elusive. We demonstrate that modification of Rab GDP-Dissociation Inhibitor Beta (GDI2) by ISG15 (ISGylation) alters endocytic recycling of the EGF receptor (EGFR) in non-interferon stimulated cells using CRISPR-knock out models for ISGylation. By regulating EGFR trafficking, ISGylation enhances EGFR recycling and sustains Akt-signalling. We further show that Akt signalling positively correlates with levels of ISG15 and its E2-ligase in basal breast cancer cohorts, confirming the link between ISGylation and Akt signalling in human tumours. Persistent and enhanced Akt activation explains the more aggressive tumour behaviour observed in human breast cancers. We show that ISGylation can act as a driver of tumour progression rather than merely being a bystander.
  18. Cell. 2021 Sep 18. pii: S0092-8674(21)01059-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      The nuclear hormone receptor estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) is a well-known transcription factor present in many breast cancers, where it promotes cancer progression. In this issue of Cell, Xu et al. report that ERα is also an RNA-binding protein and that its post-transcriptional activity enables cancer cell fitness and survival.
  19. Nat Commun. 2021 Sep 22. 12(1): 5574
      In a trial of patients with high grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC), addition of the ATR inhibitor berzosertib to gemcitabine improved progression free survival (PFS) compared to gemcitabine alone but biomarkers predictive of treatment are lacking. Here we report a candidate biomarker of response to gemcitabine versus combined gemcitabine and ATR inhibitor therapy in HGSOC ovarian cancer. Patients with replication stress (RS)-high tumors (n = 27), defined as harboring at least one genomic RS alteration related to loss of RB pathway regulation and/or oncogene-induced replication stress achieve significantly prolonged PFS (HR = 0.38, 90% CI, 0.17-0.86) on gemcitabine monotherapy compared to those with tumors without such alterations (defined as RS-low, n = 30). However, addition of berzosertib to gemcitabine benefits only patients with RS-low tumors (gemcitabine/berzosertib HR 0.34, 90% CI, 0.13-0.86) and not patients with RS-high tumors (HR 1.11, 90% CI, 0.47-2.62). Our findings support the notion that the exacerbation of RS by gemcitabine monotherapy is adequate for lethality in RS-high tumors. Conversely, for RS-low tumors addition of berzosertib-mediated ATR inhibition to gemcitabine is necessary for lethality to occur. Independent prospective validation of this biomarker is required.
  20. EMBO Mol Med. 2021 Sep 20. e14495
      Dependence receptors are known to promote survival and positive signaling such as proliferation, migration, and differentiation when activated, but to actively trigger apoptosis when unbound to their ligand. Their abnormal regulation was shown to be an important feature of tumorigenesis, allowing cancer cells to escape apoptosis triggered by these receptors while promoting in parallel major aspects of tumorigenesis such as proliferation, angiogenesis, invasiveness, and chemoresistance. This involvement in multiple cancer hallmarks has raised interest in dependence receptors as targets for cancer therapy. Although additional studies remain necessary to fully understand the complexity of signaling pathways activated by these receptors and to target them efficiently, it is now clear that dependence receptors represent very exciting targets for future cancer treatment. This manuscript reviews current knowledge on the contribution of dependence receptors to cancer and highlights the potential for therapies that activate pro-apoptotic functions of these proteins.
    Keywords:  apoptosis; cancer hallmarks; treatment resistance; tumor progression
  21. Cancer Discov. 2021 Sep 21. pii: candisc.0715.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      HER3 is expressed in the majority of EGFR-mutated lung cancers but is not a known mechanism of resistance to EGFR inhibitors. HER3-DXd is an antibody drug conjugate consisting of a HER3 antibody attached to a topoisomerase I inhibitor payload via a tetrapeptide-based cleavable linker. This phase 1, dose escalation/expansion study included patients with locally advanced or metastatic EGFR-mutated NSCLC with prior EGFR TKI therapy. Among 57 patients receiving HER3-DXd 5.6 mg/kg IV Q3W, the confirmed ORR by BICR (RECIST v1.1) was 39% (95% CI, 26.0-52.4), and median PFS was 8.2 (4.4-8.3) months. Responses were observed in patients with known and unknown EGFR TKI resistance mechanisms. Clinical activity was observed across a broad range of HER3 membrane expression. The most common grade {greater than or equal to}3 TEAE were hematologic toxicities. HER3-DXd has clinical activity in EGFR TKI-resistant cancers independent of resistance mechanisms, providing an approach to treating a broad range of drug-resistant cancers.
  22. Physiol Rev. 2021 Sep 20.
      Rho GTPases are a family of small G proteins that regulate a wide array of cellular processes related to their key roles controlling the cytoskeleton. On the other hand, cancer is a multi-step disease caused by the accumulation of genetic mutations and epigenetic alterations, from the initial stages of cancer development when cells in normal tissues undergo transformation, to the acquisition of invasive and metastatic traits, responsible for a large number of cancer related deaths. In this review, we discuss the role of Rho GTPase signalling in cancer in every step of disease progression. Rho GTPases contribute to tumour initiation and progression, by regulating proliferation and apoptosis, but also metabolism, senescence and cell stemness. Rho GTPases play a major role in cell migration, and in the metastatic process. They are also involved in interactions with the tumour microenvironment and regulate inflammation, contributing to cancer progression. After years of intensive research, we highlight the importance of relevant models in the Rho GTPase field, and we reflect on the therapeutic opportunities arising for cancer patients.
    Keywords:  Rho GTPases; cancer; clinical opportunities; signalling
  23. Dev Cell. 2021 Sep 18. pii: S1534-5807(21)00725-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Glioblastoma are heterogeneous tumors composed of highly invasive and highly proliferative clones. Heterogeneity in invasiveness could emerge from discrete biophysical properties linked to specific molecular expression. We identified clones of patient-derived glioma propagating cells that were either highly proliferative or highly invasive and compared their cellular architecture, migratory, and biophysical properties. We discovered that invasiveness was linked to cellular fitness. The most invasive cells were stiffer, developed higher mechanical forces on the substrate, and moved stochastically. The mechano-chemical-induced expression of the formin FMN1 conferred invasive strength that was confirmed in patient samples. Moreover, FMN1 expression was also linked to motility in other cancer and normal cell lines, and its ectopic expression increased fitness parameters. Mechanistically, FMN1 acts from the microtubule lattice and promotes a robust mechanical cohesion, leading to highly invasive motility.
    Keywords:  adhesion; cancer; grids; laminin; microfabrication; microtubule; migration; stiffness; traction force; tumorsphere
  24. Cancer Res. 2021 Sep 21.
      The SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling complex is frequently altered in human cancers. For example, the SWI/SNF component ARID1A is mutated in more than 50% of ovarian clear cell carcinomas (OCCC), for which effective treatments are lacking. Here, we report that ARID1A transcriptionally represses the IRE1α-XBP1 axis of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response, which confers sensitivity to inhibition of the IRE1α-XBP1 pathway in ARID1A-mutant OCCC. ARID1A mutational status correlated with response to inhibition of the IRE1α-XBP1 pathway. In a conditional Arid1aflox/flox/Pik3caH1047R genetic mouse model, Xbp1 knockout significantly improved survival of mice bearing OCCCs. Furthermore, the IRE1α inhibitor B-I09 suppressed the growth of ARID1A-inactivated OCCCs in vivo in orthotopic xenograft, patient-derived xenograft, and the genetic mouse models. Finally, B-I09 synergized with inhibition of HDAC6, a known regulator of the ER stress response, in suppressing the growth of ARID1A-inactivated OCCCs. These studies define the IRE1α-XBP1 axis of the ER stress response as a targetable vulnerability for ARID1A-mutant OCCCs, revealing a promising therapeutic approach for treating ARID1A-mutant ovarian cancers. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings indicate that pharmacological inhibition of the IRE1α-XBP1 pathway alone or in combination with HDAC6 inhibition represents an urgently needed therapeutic strategy for ARID1A-mutant ovarian cancers.
  25. Mol Ther. 2021 Sep 18. pii: S1525-0016(21)00467-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      Iron dyshomeostasis is associated with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development. However, the role of iron in HCC metastasis is unknown. This study aimed to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of iron's enhancement activity on HCC metastasis. In addition to the HCC cell lines and clinical samples in vitro, iron deficient (ID) mouse models were generated using iron-free diet and transferrin receptor protein knock out, followed by administration of HCC tumors through either orthotopic or ectopic route. Clinical metastatic HCC samples showed significant ID status, accompanied by overexpression of sphingosine-1-phosphate transporter spinster homologue 2 (SPNS2). Mechanistically, ID increased SPNS2 expression, leading to HCC metastasis in both cell cultures and mouse models. ID not only altered the anti-tumor immunity, which was indicated by phenotypes of lymphatic subsets in the liver and lung of tumor-bearing mice, but also promoted HCC metastasis in a cancer cell autonomous manner through the SPNS2. Since germline knockout of globe SPNS2 showed significantly reduced HCC metastasis, we further developed hepatic-targeting recombinant adeno-associated virus vectors to knockdown SPNS2 expression and to inhibit iron-regulated HCC metastasis. Our observation indicates the role of iron in HCC pulmonary metastasis and suggests SPNS2 as a potential therapeutic target for the prevention of HCC pulmonary metastasis.