bims-tucedo Biomed News
on Tumor cell dormancy
Issue of 2022‒07‒31
seventeen papers selected by
Isabel Puig Borreil
Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology

  1. Cancer Discov. 2022 Jul 29. OF1
      Multiple dominant somatic populations are present in ctDNA, with AR alterations driving treatment resistance.
  2. Cancer Discov. 2022 Jul 27. pii: CD-22-0111. [Epub ahead of print]
      Anti-cancer therapies have been limited by emergence of mutations and other adaptations. In bacteria, antibiotics activate the SOS response, which mobilizes error-prone factors that allow for continuous replication at the cost of mutagenesis. We investigated whether treatment of lung cancer with EGFR inhibitors (EGFRi) similarly engages hypermutators. In cycling drug-tolerant persister (DTP) cells and in EGFRi-treated patients presenting residual disease we observed upregulation of GAS6, while ablation of GAS6's receptor, AXL, eradicated resistance. Reciprocally, AXL overexpression enhanced DTP survival and accelerated the emergence of T790M, an EGFR mutation typical to resistant cells. Mechanistically, AXL induces low-fidelity DNA polymerases and activates their organizer, RAD18, by promoting neddylation. Metabolomics uncovered another hypermutator, AXL-driven activation of MYC and increased purine synthesis that is unbalanced by pyrimidines. Aligning anti-AXL combination treatments with the transition from DTPs to resistant cells cured patient-derived xenografts. Hence, similar to bacteria, tumors tolerate therapy by engaging pharmacologically targetable endogenous mutators.
  3. Cancer Discov. 2022 Jul 26. pii: CD-21-1690. [Epub ahead of print]
      Nerves are a component of the tumor microenvironment contributing to cancer progression, but the role of cells from nerves in facilitating cancer invasion remains poorly understood. Here we show that Schwann cells (SCs) activated by cancer cells collectively function as Tumor Activated Schwann cell Tracks (TASTs) that promote cancer cell migration and invasion. Non-myelinating SCs form TASTs and have cell gene expression signatures that correlate with diminished survival in patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. In TASTs, dynamic SCs form tracks that serve as cancer pathways and apply forces on cancer cells to enhance cancer motility. These SCs are activated by c-Jun, analogous to their reprogramming during nerve repair. This study reveals a mechanism of cancer cell invasion that co-opts a wound repair process and exploits the ability of SCs to collectively organize into tracks. These findings establish a novel paradigm of how cancer cells spread and reveal therapeutic opportunities.
  4. Clin Cancer Res. 2022 Jul 26. OF1-OF16
      PURPOSE: Genomic instability is a hallmark of cancer and targeting DNA damage response (DDR) is emerging as a promising therapeutic strategy in different solid tumors. The effectiveness of targeting DDR in colorectal cancer has not been extensively explored.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We challenged 112 cell models recapitulating the genomic landscape of metastatic colorectal cancer with ATM, ATR, CHK1, WEE1, and DNA-PK inhibitors, in parallel with chemotherapeutic agents. We focused then on ATR inhibitors (ATRi) and, to identify putative biomarkers of response and resistance, we analyzed at multiple levels colorectal cancer models highly sensitive or resistant to these drugs.
    RESULTS: We found that around 30% of colorectal cancers, including those carrying KRAS and BRAF mutations and unresponsive to targeted agents, are sensitive to at least one DDR inhibitor. By investigating potential biomarkers of response to ATRi, we found that ATRi-sensitive cells displayed reduced phospho-RPA32 foci at basal level, while ATRi-resistant cells showed increased RAD51 foci formation in response to replication stress. Lack of ATM and RAD51C expression was associated with ATRi sensitivity. Analysis of mutational signatures and HRDetect score identified a subgroup of ATRi-sensitive models. Organoids derived from patients with metastatic colorectal cancer recapitulated findings obtained in cell lines.
    CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, a subset of colorectal cancers refractory to current therapies could benefit from inhibitors of DDR pathways and replication stress. A composite biomarker involving phospho-RPA32 and RAD51 foci, lack of ATM and RAD51C expression, as well as analysis of mutational signatures could be used to identify colorectal cancers likely to respond to ATRi.
  5. Cancer Res. 2022 Jul 25. pii: CAN-22-0419. [Epub ahead of print]
      Epithelial transformation and carcinogenesis are characterized by profound alterations in cell mechanics that significantly impact multiple steps of the metastatic cascade. The ability of cancer cells to grow in the primary tumor, to locally invade through the confining extracellular matrix, to survive in circulation, and to extravasate into distant vital organs all depend on specific mechanical characteristics. Importantly, recent studies have shown that the mechanical properties of cancer cells also influence their interactions with immune and stromal cells. Here, we discuss the mechanical changes that cancer cells undergo during metastasis, how these changes impact immune and stromal responses, and the implications of these new insights for therapeutic intervention.
  6. Oncogene. 2022 Jul 27.
      Aberrations in nuclear size and shape are commonly used to identify cancerous tissue. However, it remains unclear whether the disturbed nuclear structure directly contributes to the cancer pathology or is merely a consequence of other events occurring during tumorigenesis. Here, we show that highly invasive and proliferative breast cancer cells frequently exhibit Akt-driven lower expression of the nuclear envelope proteins lamin A/C, leading to increased nuclear deformability that permits enhanced cell migration through confined environments that mimic interstitial spaces encountered during metastasis. Importantly, increasing lamin A/C expression in highly invasive breast cancer cells reflected gene expression changes characteristic of human breast tumors with higher LMNA expression, and specifically affected pathways related to cell-ECM interactions, cell metabolism, and PI3K/Akt signaling. Further supporting an important role of lamins in breast cancer metastasis, analysis of lamin levels in human breast tumors revealed a significant association between lower lamin A levels, Akt signaling, and decreased disease-free survival. These findings suggest that downregulation of lamin A/C in breast cancer cells may influence both cellular physical properties and biochemical signaling to promote metastatic progression.
  7. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Aug 02. 119(31): e2201376119
      Relapse to anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapies, such as trastuzumab in HER2+ breast cancer (BC), is associated with residual disease progression due to resistance to therapy. Here, we identify interferon-γ inducible protein 16 (IFI16)-dependent STING signaling as a significant determinant of trastuzumab responses in HER2+ BC. We show that down-regulation of immune-regulated genes (IRG) is specifically associated with poor survival of HER2+, but not other BC subtypes. Among IRG, IFI16 is identified as a direct target of EZH2, the underexpression of which leads to deficient STING activation and downstream CXCL10/11 expression in response to trastuzumab treatment. Dual inhibition of EZH2 and histone deacetylase (HDAC) significantly activates IFI16-dependent immune responses to trastuzumab. Notably, a combination of a novel histone methylation inhibitor with an HDAC inhibitor induces complete tumor eradication and long-term T cell memory in a HER2+ BC mouse model. Our findings demonstrate an epigenetic regulatory mechanism suppressing the expression of the IFI16-CXCL10/11 signaling pathway that provides a survival advantage to HER2+ BC to confer resistance to trastuzumab treatment.
    Keywords:  HER2+ breast cancer; HER2-targeted therapy; anti-HER2 resistance; epigenetic approach
  8. EMBO Rep. 2022 Jul 25. e54128
      The long noncoding RNA LINC00839 has been shown to be involved in the progression of some cancer types, such as bladder cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and neuroblastoma. However, if LINC00839 has roles in colorectal cancer (CRC), it has not been elucidated so far. Here, we focus on the biological role and involved mechanisms of LINC00839 in CRC. We show that LINC00839 is selectively upregulated in CRC and locates to the nucleus. High expression of LINC00839 is associated with poor outcomes in CRC patients. Functional experiments show that LINC00839 promotes CRC proliferation, invasion, and metastasis in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, LINC00839 recruits Ruvb1 to the Tip60 complex and increases its acetylase activity. LINC00839 guides the complex to the NRF1 promoter and promotes acetylation of lysines 5 and 8 of histones H4, thereby upregulating the expression of NRF1. Subsequently, NRF1 activates mitochondrial metabolism and biogenesis, thereby promoting CRC progression. In summary, our study reports on a mechanism by which LINC00839 positively regulates NRF1, thus promoting mitochondrial metabolism and biogenesis, as well as CRC progression.
    Keywords:  LINC00839; NRF1; OXPHOS; Tip60 complex; histone acetylation
  9. Cancer Discov. 2022 Jul 29. OF1
      Baseline plasma L-Arginine (ARG) levels can predict response to immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI).
  10. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Aug 02. 119(31): e2203167119
      Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) mediate essential interactions throughout the extracellular matrix (ECM), providing signals that regulate cellular growth and development. Altered HSPG composition during tumorigenesis strongly aids cancer progression. Heparanase (HPSE) is the principal enzyme responsible for extracellular heparan sulfate catabolism and is markedly up-regulated in aggressive cancers. HPSE overactivity degrades HSPGs within the ECM, facilitating metastatic dissemination and releasing mitogens that drive cellular proliferation. Reducing extracellular HPSE activity reduces cancer growth, but few effective inhibitors are known, and none are clinically approved. Inspired by the natural glycosidase inhibitor cyclophellitol, we developed nanomolar mechanism-based, irreversible HPSE inhibitors that are effective within physiological environments. Application of cyclophellitol-derived HPSE inhibitors reduces cancer aggression in cellulo and significantly ameliorates murine metastasis. Mechanism-based irreversible HPSE inhibition is an unexplored anticancer strategy. We demonstrate the feasibility of such compounds to control pathological HPSE-driven malignancies.
    Keywords:  cancer; covalent inhibition; heparan sulfate; heparanase; metastasis
  11. Cancer Res. 2022 Jul 27. pii: CAN-21-3882. [Epub ahead of print]
      Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common type of primary adult brain tumor. Glioma stem cell (GSC) residence and Temozolomide (TMZ) resistance in GBM both contribute to poor patient outcome. TRAF4 is a scaffold protein with E3 ubiquitin ligase activity that has recently been discovered to promote invasion and metastasis in several malignancies, but the effects and functions of TRAF4 in GBM remain to be determined. Here, we report that TRAF4 is preferentially overexpressed in GSCs and is required for stem-like properties as well as TMZ sensitivity in GBM cells. TRAF4 specifically interacted with the N-terminal tail of Caveolin-1 (CAV1), an important contributor to the tumorigenicity of GBM cells. TRAF4 regulated CAV1 stability by preventing ZNRF1-mediated ubiquitination and facilitating USP7-mediated deubiquitination independently of its E3 ubiquitin ligase catalytic activity. TRAF4-mediated stabilization of CAV1 activated protumorigenic AKT/ERK1/2 signaling, and disruption of this axis resulted in defects in stemness maintenance. In addition, expression of TRAF4 and CAV1 was positively correlated and predicted poor prognosis in human GBM samples. Screening of common nervous system drugs identified Risperidone interaction with TRAF4, and Risperidone treatment resulted in the dissociation of TRAF4 and CAV1. Importantly, pharmacological inhibition of TRAF4 with Risperidone potently inhibited self-renewal, abrogated tumorigenicity, and reversed TMZ resistance in GBM. Overall, TRAF4-mediated stabilization of CAV1 promotes stemness and TMZ resistance in GBM, providing a therapeutic strategy that could improve patient outcomes.
  12. Nat Genet. 2022 Jul 28.
      Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly lethal and treatment-refractory cancer. Molecular stratification in pancreatic cancer remains rudimentary and does not yet inform clinical management or therapeutic development. Here, we construct a high-resolution molecular landscape of the cellular subtypes and spatial communities that compose PDAC using single-nucleus RNA sequencing and whole-transcriptome digital spatial profiling (DSP) of 43 primary PDAC tumor specimens that either received neoadjuvant therapy or were treatment naive. We uncovered recurrent expression programs across malignant cells and fibroblasts, including a newly identified neural-like progenitor malignant cell program that was enriched after chemotherapy and radiotherapy and associated with poor prognosis in independent cohorts. Integrating spatial and cellular profiles revealed three multicellular communities with distinct contributions from malignant, fibroblast and immune subtypes: classical, squamoid-basaloid and treatment enriched. Our refined molecular and cellular taxonomy can provide a framework for stratification in clinical trials and serve as a roadmap for therapeutic targeting of specific cellular phenotypes and multicellular interactions.
  13. Nat Commun. 2022 Jul 29. 13(1): 4406
      Emerging evidence suggests that resident macrophages within tissues are enablers of tumor growth. However, a second population of resident macrophages surrounds all visceral organs within the cavities and nothing is known about these GATA6+ large peritoneal macrophages (GLPMs) despite their ability to invade injured visceral organs by sensing danger signals. Here, we show that GLPMs invade growing metastases that breach the visceral mesothelium of the liver via the "find me signal", ATP. Depleting GLPMs either by pharmacological or genetic tools, reduces metastases growth. Apoptotic bodies from tumor cells induces programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) upregulation on GLPMs which block CD8+ T cell function. Direct targeting of GLPMs by intraperitoneal but not intravenous administration of anti-PD-L1 reduces tumor growth. Thermal ablation of liver metastases recruits huge numbers of GLPMs and enables rapid regrowth of tumors. GLPMs contribute to metastatic growth and tumor recurrence.
  14. Sci Transl Med. 2022 Jul 27. 14(655): eadd0887
      Functional interrogation of cancer and immune cells during tumor evolution reveals cancer drivers and informs mechanism-based combination therapies.
  15. Science. 2022 Jul 29. 377(6605): 502-511
      Approximately half of glioblastoma and more than two-thirds of grade II and III glioma tumors lack the DNA repair protein O6-methylguanine methyl transferase (MGMT). MGMT-deficient tumors respond initially to the DNA methylation agent temozolomide (TMZ) but frequently acquire resistance through loss of the mismatch repair (MMR) pathway. We report the development of agents that overcome this resistance mechanism by inducing MMR-independent cell killing selectively in MGMT-silenced tumors. These agents deposit a dynamic DNA lesion that can be reversed by MGMT but slowly evolves into an interstrand cross-link in MGMT-deficient settings, resulting in MMR-independent cell death with low toxicity in vitro and in vivo. This discovery may lead to new treatments for gliomas and may represent a new paradigm for designing chemotherapeutics that exploit specific DNA repair defects.
  16. Nat Cancer. 2022 Jul;3(7): 793-807
      Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are central players in the microenvironment of solid tumors, affecting cancer progression and metastasis. CAFs have diverse phenotypes, origins and functions and consist of distinct subpopulations. Recent progress in single-cell RNA-sequencing technologies has enabled detailed characterization of the complexity and heterogeneity of CAF subpopulations in multiple tumor types. In this Review, we discuss the current understanding of CAF subsets and functions as elucidated by single-cell technologies, their functional plasticity, and their emergent shared and organ-specific features that could potentially be harnessed to design better therapeutic strategies for cancer.
  17. Nat Biotechnol. 2022 Jul 25.
      Mutations in Ras family proteins are implicated in 33% of human cancers, but direct pharmacological inhibition of Ras mutants remains challenging. As an alternative to direct inhibition, we screened for sensitivities in Ras-mutant cells and discovered 249C as a Ras-mutant selective cytotoxic agent with nanomolar potency against a spectrum of Ras-mutant cancers. 249C binds to vacuolar (V)-ATPase with nanomolar affinity and inhibits its activity, preventing lysosomal acidification and inhibiting autophagy and macropinocytosis pathways that several Ras-driven cancers rely on for survival. Unexpectedly, potency of 249C varies with the identity of the Ras driver mutation, with the highest potency for KRASG13D and G12V both in vitro and in vivo, highlighting a mutant-specific dependence on macropinocytosis and lysosomal pH. Indeed, 249C potently inhibits tumor growth without adverse side effects in mouse xenografts of KRAS-driven lung and colon cancers. A comparison of isogenic SW48 xenografts with different KRAS mutations confirmed that KRASG13D/+ (followed by G12V/+) mutations are especially sensitive to 249C treatment. These data establish proof-of-concept for targeting V-ATPase in cancers driven by specific KRAS mutations such as KRASG13D and G12V.