bims-tucedo Biomed News
on Tumor cell dormancy
Issue of 2021‒12‒26
fourteen papers selected by
Isabel Puig Borreil
Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology

  1. Cancer Discov. 2021 Dec 22.
      The microenvironment influences cancer transcriptional state and drives drug response.
  2. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Jan 04. pii: e2111046118. [Epub ahead of print]119(1):
      Dormancy is an evolutionarily conserved protective mechanism widely observed in nature. A pathological example is found during cancer metastasis, where cancer cells disseminate from the primary tumor, home to secondary organs, and enter a growth-arrested state, which could last for decades. Recent studies have pointed toward the microenvironment being heavily involved in inducing, preserving, or ceasing this dormant state, with a strong focus on identifying specific molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways. Increasing evidence now suggests the existence of an interplay between intracellular as well as extracellular biochemical and mechanical cues in guiding such processes. Despite the inherent complexities associated with dormancy, proliferation, and growth of cancer cells and tumor tissues, viewing these phenomena from a physical perspective allows for a more global description, independent from many details of the systems. Building on the analogies between tissues and fluids and thermodynamic phase separation concepts, we classify a number of proposed mechanisms in terms of a thermodynamic metastability of the tumor with respect to growth. This can be governed by interaction with the microenvironment in the form of adherence (wetting) to a substrate or by mechanical confinement of the surrounding extracellular matrix. By drawing parallels with clinical and experimental data, we advance the notion that the local energy minima, or metastable states, emerging in the tissue droplet growth kinetics can be associated with a dormant state. Despite its simplicity, the provided framework captures several aspects associated with cancer dormancy and tumor growth.
    Keywords:  cancer dormancy; extracellular matrix; metastability; phase separation; tissue growth
  3. Mol Cancer. 2021 Dec 18. 20(1): 167
      BACKGROUND: Accumulating studies have revealed that aberrant expression of circular RNAs (circRNAs) is widely involved in the tumorigenesis and progression of malignant cancers, including colorectal cancer (CRC). Nevertheless, the clinical significance, levels, features, biological function, and molecular mechanisms of novel circRNAs in CRC remain largely unexplored.METHODS: CRC-related circRNAs were identified through bioinformatics analysis and verified in clinical specimens by qRT-PCR and in situ hybridization (ISH). Then, in vitro and in vivo experiments were performed to determine the clinical significance of, functional roles of, and clinical characteristics associated with circIL4R in CRC specimens and cells. Mechanistically, RNA pull-down, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), luciferase reporter, and ubiquitination assays were performed to confirm the underlying mechanism of circIL4R.
    RESULTS: CircIL4R was upregulated in CRC cell lines and in sera and tissues from CRC patients and was positively correlated with advanced clinicopathological features and poor prognosis. Functional experiments demonstrated that circIL4R promotes CRC cell proliferation, migration, and invasion via the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway. Mechanistically, circIL4R was regulated by TFAP2C and competitively interacted with miR-761 to enhance the expression of TRIM29, thereby targeting PHLPP1 for ubiquitin-mediated degradation to activate the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway and consequently facilitate CRC progression.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate that upregulation of circIL4R plays an oncogenic role in CRC progression and may serve as a promising diagnostic and prognostic biomarker for CRC detection and as a potential therapeutic target for CRC treatment.
    Keywords:  Colorectal cancer; PI3K/AKT pathway; TRIM29; circIL4R; miR-761
  4. Cancer Discov. 2021 Dec 20. pii: candisc.0936.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Focal amplifications (FAs) can mediate targeted therapy resistance in cancer. Understanding the structure and dynamics of FAs is critical for designing treatments that overcome plasticity-mediated resistance. We developed a melanoma model of dual MAPK inhibitor resistance that bears BRAFV600 amplifications through either extrachromosomal DNA/double-minutes (ecDNA/DMs) or intrachromosomal homogenously staining regions (HSRs). Cells harboring BRAFV600E FAs displayed mode switching between DMs and HSRs, from both de novo genetic changes and selection of pre-existing subpopulations. Plasticity is not exclusive to ecDNAs, as cells harboring HSRs exhibit drug addiction-driven structural loss of BRAF amplicons upon dose reduction. FA mechanisms can couple with kinase domain duplications and alternative splicing to enhance resistance. Drug-responsive amplicon plasticity is observed in the clinic, and can involve other MAPK pathway genes, such as RAF1 and NRAS. BRAF FA-mediated dual-MAPKi-resistant cells are more sensitive to pro-ferroptotic drugs, extending the spectrum of ferroptosis sensitivity in MAPKi-resistance beyond cases of dedifferentiation.
  5. Neuro Oncol. 2021 Dec 21. pii: noab290. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: Brain metastases (BM) are responsible for neurological decline and poor overall survival. Although the pro-metastatic roles of glial cells, and the acquisition of neuronal attributes in established BM tumors have been described, there are no studies that investigate the initial interplay between neurons and brain-seeking tumor cells. The aim of this study was to characterize early tumor-neuron interactions and the induced CNS-adaptive changes in tumor cells prior to macro-colonization.METHODS: Utilizing pure neuronal cultures and brain-naïve and patient-derived BM tumor cells, we surveyed the early induction of mediators of neurotransmitter (NT) and synaptic signaling in breast and lung tumor cells. Reliance on microenvironmental GABA in breast-to-brain metastatic cells (BBMs) was assessed in vitro and in vivo.
    RESULTS: Co-culture with neurons induces early expression of classical NT receptor genes (HTR4, GRIA2, GRIN2B, GRM4, GRM8, DRD1) and neuronal synaptic mediators (CNR1, EGR2, ARC, NGFR, NRXN1) in breast and lung cancer cells. NT-dependent classification of tumor cells within the neuronal niche shows breast cancer cells become GABAergic responsive brain metastases (GRBMs) and transition from relying on autocrine GABA, to paracrine GABA from adjacent neurons; while autocrine Dopaminergic breast and lung tumor cells persist. In vivo studies confirm reliance on paracrine GABA is an early CNS-acclimation strategy in breast cancer. Moreover, neuronal contact induces early resurgence in Reelin expression in tumor cells through epigenetic activation, facilitating CNS adaptation.
    CONCLUSION: Tumor-neuron interactions allow for CNS-adaptation early in the course of brain metastasis.
    Keywords:  Neurons; brain-metastasis; neurotransmitter; synaptic mediators; tumors
  6. Nat Cancer. 2021 Jul;2(7): 758-772
      Lineage-tracing methods have enabled characterization of clonal dynamics in complex populations, but generally lack the ability to integrate genomic, epigenomic and transcriptomic measurements with live-cell manipulation of specific clones of interest. We developed a functionalized lineage-tracing system, ClonMapper, which integrates DNA barcoding with single-cell RNA sequencing and clonal isolation to comprehensively characterize thousands of clones within heterogeneous populations. Using ClonMapper, we identified subpopulations of a chronic lymphocytic leukemia cell line with distinct clonal compositions, transcriptional signatures and chemotherapy survivorship trajectories; patterns that were also observed in primary human chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The ability to retrieve specific clones before, during and after treatment enabled direct measurements of clonal diversification and durable subpopulation transcriptional signatures. ClonMapper is a powerful multifunctional approach to dissect the complex clonal dynamics of tumor progression and therapeutic response.
  7. Nature. 2021 Dec 22.
      The switch/sucrose non-fermentable (SWI/SNF) complex has a crucial role in chromatin remodelling1 and is altered in over 20% of cancers2,3. Here we developed a proteolysis-targeting chimera (PROTAC) degrader of the SWI/SNF ATPase subunits, SMARCA2 and SMARCA4, called AU-15330. Androgen receptor (AR)+ forkhead box A1 (FOXA1)+ prostate cancer cells are exquisitely sensitive to dual SMARCA2 and SMARCA4 degradation relative to normal and other cancer cell lines. SWI/SNF ATPase degradation rapidly compacts cis-regulatory elements bound by transcription factors that drive prostate cancer cell proliferation, namely AR, FOXA1, ERG and MYC, which dislodges them from chromatin, disables their core enhancer circuitry, and abolishes the downstream oncogenic gene programs. SWI/SNF ATPase degradation also disrupts super-enhancer and promoter looping interactions that wire supra-physiologic expression of the AR, FOXA1 and MYC oncogenes themselves. AU-15330 induces potent inhibition of tumour growth in xenograft models of prostate cancer and synergizes with the AR antagonist enzalutamide, even inducing disease remission in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) models without toxicity. Thus, impeding SWI/SNF-mediated enhancer accessibility represents a promising therapeutic approach for enhancer-addicted cancers.
  8. Neuro Oncol. 2021 Dec 21. pii: noab269. [Epub ahead of print]
      Phenotypic plasticity has emerged as a major contributor to intra-tumoral heterogeneity and treatment resistance in cancer. Increasing evidence shows that glioblastoma (GBM) cells display prominent intrinsic plasticity and reversibly adapt to dynamic microenvironmental conditions. Limited genetic evolution at recurrence further suggests that resistance mechanisms also largely operate at the phenotypic level. Here we review recent literature underpinning the role of GBM plasticity in creating gradients of heterogeneous cells including those that carry cancer stem cell (CSC) properties. A historical perspective from the hierarchical to the nonhierarchical concept of CSCs towards the recent appreciation of GBM plasticity is provided. Cellular states interact dynamically with each other and with the surrounding brain to shape a flexible tumor ecosystem, which enables swift adaptation to external pressure including treatment. We present the key components regulating intra-tumoral phenotypic heterogeneity and the equilibrium of phenotypic states, including genetic, epigenetic, and microenvironmental factors. We further discuss plasticity in the context of intrinsic tumor resistance, where a variable balance between preexisting resistant cells and adaptive persisters leads to reversible adaptation upon treatment. Innovative efforts targeting regulators of plasticity and mechanisms of state transitions towards treatment-resistant states are needed to restrict the adaptive capacities of GBM.
    Keywords:  glioblastoma; plasticity; treatment resistance; tumor heterogeneity; tumor microenvironment
  9. Blood. 2021 Dec 22. pii: blood.2021014701. [Epub ahead of print]
      Immunomodulatory (IMiD) agents like lenalidomide and pomalidomide induce the recruitment of IKZF1 and other targets to the CRL4CRBN E3 ubiquitin ligase, resulting in their ubiquitination and degradation. These agents are highly active in B-cell lymphomas and a subset of myeloid diseases but have compromised effects in T-cell lymphomas (TCLs). Here we show that two factors determine resistance to IMiDs among TCLs. First, limited CRBN expression reduces IMiD activity in TCLs but can be overcome by newer-generation degrader CC-92480. Using mass spectrometry, we show that CC-92480 selectively degrades IKZF1 and ZFP91 in TCL cells with greater potency than pomalidomide. As a result, CC-92480 is highly active against multiple TCL subtypes and showed greater efficacy than pomalidomide across 4 in vivo TCL models. Second, we demonstrate that ZFP91 functions as a bona fide transcription factor that co-regulates cell survival with IKZF1 in IMiD-resistant TCLs. By activating keynote genes from WNT, NF-kB, and MAP kinase signaling, ZFP91 directly promotes resistance to IKZF1 loss. Moreover, lenalidomide-sensitive TCLs can acquire stable resistance via ZFP91 rewiring, which involves casein kinase 2 (CK2) mediated c-Jun inactivation. Overall, these findings identify a critical transcription factor network within TCLs and provide clinical proof of concept for the novel therapy using next-generation degraders.
  10. Cancer Discov. 2021 Dec 22.
      Precancerous colorectal polyps map distinct paths to malignancy and tumor immune microenvironments.
  11. J Nanobiotechnology. 2021 Dec 24. 19(1): 447
      BACKGROUND: Autophagy is a conserved catabolic process, which plays an important role in regulating tumor cell motility and degrading protein aggregates. Chemotherapy-induced autophagy may lead to tumor distant metastasis and even chemo-insensitivity in the therapy of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Therefore, a vast majority of HCC cases do not produce a significant response to monotherapy with autophagy inhibitors.RESULTS: In this work, we developed a biomimetic nanoformulation (TH-NP) co-encapsulating Oxaliplatin (OXA)/hydroxychloroquine (HCQ, an autophagy inhibitor) to execute targeted autophagy inhibition, reduce tumor cell migration and invasion in vitro and attenuate metastasis in vivo. The tumor cell-specific ligand TRAIL was bioengineered to be stably expressed on HUVECs and the resultant membrane vesicles were wrapped on OXA/HCQ-loaded PLGA nanocores. Especially, TH-NPs could significantly improve OXA and HCQ effective concentration by approximately 21 and 13 times in tumor tissues compared to the free mixture of HCQ/OXA. Moreover, the tumor-targeting TH-NPs released HCQ alkalized the acidic lysosomes and inhibited the fusion of autophagosomes and lysosomes, leading to effective blockade of autophagic flux. In short, the system largely improved chemotherapeutic performance of OXA on subcutaneous and orthotopic HCC mice models. Importantly, TH-NPs also exhibited the most effective inhibition of tumor metastasis in orthotopic HCCLM3 models, and in the HepG2, Huh-7 or HCCLM3 metastatic mice models. Finally, we illustrated the enhanced metastasis inhibition was attributed to the blockade or reverse of the autophagy-mediated degradation of focal adhesions (FAs) including E-cadherin and paxillin.
    CONCLUSIONS: TH-NPs can perform an enhanced chemotherapy and antimetastatic effect, and may represent a promising strategy for HCC therapy in clinics.
    Keywords:  Autophagy inhibition; Biomimetic; Focal adhesions; Metastasis; Targeted co-delivery
  12. Cancer Discov. 2021 Dec 21. pii: candisc.0888.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Chemotherapy is ubiquitous in frontline treatment of advanced gastric cancer, yet responses are heterogeneous, and little is known about mediators of chemotherapy (CTX) response. To move forward, understanding the effects of standard CTX on the tumor and immune microenvironment (TME) is needed. Coupling whole exome sequencing, bulk RNA and single-cell transcriptomics from paired pre- and on-treatment samples in treatment naive HER2-positive and HER2-negative gastric cancer patients, we define features associated with response to platinum-based CTX. Response was associated with on-treatment TME remodeling including NK-cell recruitment, decreased tumor-associated macrophages, M1-macrophage repolarization and increased effector T-cell infiltration. Among CTX non-responders, we observed low/absent PD-L1 expression or modulation, on-treatment increases in Wnt-signaling, B-cell infiltration and LAG-3 expressing T-cells coupled to an exodus of dendritic cells. We did not observe significant genomic changes in early on-treatment sampling. We provide a map of on-treatment TME modulation with standard CTX and nominate candidate future approaches.
  13. Cancer Cell. 2021 Dec 21. pii: S1535-6108(21)00612-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      We concurrently examine the whole genome, transcriptome, methylome, and immune cell infiltrates in baseline tumors from 77 patients with advanced cutaneous melanoma treated with anti-PD-1 with or without anti-CTLA-4. We show that high tumor mutation burden (TMB), neoantigen load, expression of IFNγ-related genes, programmed death ligand expression, low PSMB8 methylation (therefore high expression), and T cells in the tumor microenvironment are associated with response to immunotherapy. No specific mutation correlates with therapy response. A multivariable model combining the TMB and IFNγ-related gene expression robustly predicts response (89% sensitivity, 53% specificity, area under the curve [AUC], 0.84); tumors with high TMB and a high IFNγ signature show the best response to immunotherapy. This model validates in an independent cohort (80% sensitivity, 59% specificity, AUC, 0.79). Except for a JAK3 loss-of-function mutation, for patients who did not respond as predicted there is no obvious biological mechanism that clearly explained their outlier status, consistent with intratumor and intertumor heterogeneity in response to immunotherapy.
    Keywords:  RNAseq; anti-CTLA-4; anti-PD-1; immunotherapy; interferon-γ; melanoma; methylation; mutation burden; resistance; targeted therapy; treatment; whole genome sequencing
  14. Mol Cancer. 2021 Dec 18. 20(1): 169
      BACKGROUND: Circular RNAs (circRNAs) have been indicated as potentially critical mediators in various types of tumor progression, generally acting as microRNA (miRNA) sponges to regulate downstream gene expression. However, the aberrant expression profile and dysfunction of circRNAs in human clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) need to be further investigated. This study mined key prognostic circRNAs and elucidates the potential role and molecular mechanism of circRNAs in regulating the proliferation and metastasis of ccRCC.METHODS: circCHST15 (hsa_circ_0020303) was identified by mining two circRNA microarrays from the Gene Expression Omnibus database and comparing matched tumor versus adjacent normal epithelial tissue pairs or matched primary versus metastatic tumor tissue pairs. These results were validated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and agarose gel electrophoresis. We demonstrated the biological effect of circCHST15 in ccRCC both in vitro and in vivo. To test the interaction between circCHST15 and miRNAs, we conducted a number of experiments, including RNA pull down assay, dual-luciferase reporter assay and fluorescence in situ hybridization.
    RESULTS: The expression of circCHST15 was higher in ccRCC tissues compared to healthy adjacent kidney tissue and higher in RCC cell lines compared to normal kidney cell lines. The level of circCHST15 was positively correlated with aggressive clinicopathological characteristics, and circCHST15 served as an independent prognostic indicator for overall survival and progression-free survival in patients with ccRCC after surgical resection. Our in vivo and in vitro data indicate that circCHST15 promotes the proliferation, migration, and invasion of ccRCC cells. Mechanistically, we found that circCHST15 directly interacts with miR-125a-5p and acts as a microRNA sponge to regulate EIF4EBP1 expression.
    CONCLUSIONS: We found that sponging of miR-125a-5p to promote EIF4EBP1 expression is the underlying mechanism of hsa_circ_0020303-induced ccRCC progression. This prompts further investigation of circCHST15 as a potential prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target for ccRCC.
    Keywords:  Clear cell renal cell carcinoma; EIF4EBP1; Metastasis; Proliferation; hsa_circ_0020303; miR-125a-5p