bims-instec Biomed News
on Intestinal stem cells and chemoresistance in colon cancer and intestinal regeneration
Issue of 2021‒10‒17
seven papers selected by
Maria-Virginia Giolito

  1. Cancer Res. 2021 Oct 13. pii: canres.1572.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Colorectal adenocarcinoma is a leading cause of death worldwide, and immune infiltration in colorectal tumors has been recognized recently as an important pathophysiological event. In this context, tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) have been related to chemoresistance to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), the first-line chemotherapeutic agent used in treating colorectal cancers. Nevertheless, the details of this chemoresistance mechanism are still poorly elucidated. In the present study, we report that macrophages specifically overexpress dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) in hypoxia, leading to macrophage-induced chemoresistance to 5-FU via inactivation of the drug. Hypoxia-induced macrophage DPD expression was controlled by HIF-2α. TAMs constituted the main contributors to DPD activity in human colorectal primary or secondary tumors while cancer cells did not express significant levels of DPD. Additionally, contrary to humans, macrophages in mice do not express DPD. Together, these findings shed light on the role of TAMs in promoting chemoresistance in colorectal cancers and identify potential new therapeutic targets.
  2. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Sep 30. pii: 4923. [Epub ahead of print]13(19):
      The implications of intratumor heterogeneity on the four consensus molecular subtypes (CMS) of colorectal cancer (CRC) are not well known. Here, we use single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNASeq) to build an algorithm to assign CMS classification to individual cells, which we use to explore the distributions of CMSs in tumor and non-tumor cells. A dataset of colorectal tumors with bulk RNAseq (n = 3232) was used to identify CMS specific-marker gene sets. These gene sets were then applied to a discovery dataset of scRNASeq profiles (n = 10) to develop an algorithm for single-cell CMS (scCMS) assignment, which recapitulated the intrinsic biology of all four CMSs. The single-cell CMS assignment algorithm was used to explore the scRNASeq profiles of two prospective CRC tumors with mixed CMS via bulk sequencing. We find that every CRC tumor contains individual cells of each scCMS, as well as many individual cells that have enrichment for features of more than one scCMS (called mixed cells). scCMS4 and scCMS1 cells dominate stroma and immune cell clusters, respectively, but account for less than 3% epithelial cells. These data imply that CMS1 and CMS4 are driven by the transcriptomic contribution of immune and stromal cells, respectively, not tumor cells.
    Keywords:  RNAseq; colorectal cancer; consensus molecular subtypes (CMS); intratumor heterogeneity; single-cell sequencing
  3. Comput Struct Biotechnol J. 2021 ;19 5170-5183
      Scheduling anticancer drug administration over 24 h may critically impact treatment success in a patient-specific manner. Here, we address personalization of treatment timing using a novel mathematical model of irinotecan cellular pharmacokinetics and -dynamics linked to a representation of the core clock and predict treatment toxicity in a colorectal cancer (CRC) cellular model. The mathematical model is fitted to three different scenarios: mouse liver, where the drug metabolism mainly occurs, and two human colorectal cancer cell lines representing an in vitro experimental system for human colorectal cancer progression. Our model successfully recapitulates quantitative circadian datasets of mRNA and protein expression together with timing-dependent irinotecan cytotoxicity data. The model also discriminates time-dependent toxicity between the different cells, suggesting that treatment can be optimized according to their cellular clock. Our results show that the time-dependent degradation of the protein mediating irinotecan activation, as well as an oscillation in the death rate may play an important role in the circadian variations of drug toxicity. In the future, this model can be used to support personalized treatment scheduling by predicting optimal drug timing based on the patient's gene expression profile.
    Keywords:  Chronotherapy; Circadian rhythms; Colorectal cancer; Irinotecan pharmacodynamics; Molecular circadian profiles; Translational-transcriptional networks
  4. Exp Ther Med. 2021 Nov;22(5): 1343
      Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a malignant tumor of the gastrointestinal tract and a leading cause of cancer-associated mortality worldwide. Mex-3 RNA binding family member A (MEX3A) promotes the progression of multiple types of cancer, including ovarian and cervical cancer. However, to the best of our knowledge, the role of MEX3A in CRC is not completely understood. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate the function of MEX3A in CRC. The mRNA and protein expression levels of MEX3A in CRC cells were analyzed using reverse transcription-quantitative PCR and western blotting, respectively. Cell Counting Kit-8 assays were used to measure cell viability. Cell apoptosis and cell cycle distribution were detected via flow cytometry, and CRC cell invasion was analyzed by performing Transwell assays. Moreover, the mitochondrial membrane potential in CRC cells was measured via JC-1 staining. The results of the present study revealed that the expression levels of MEX3A were upregulated in CRC tissues compared with adjacent healthy tissues. MEX3A knockdown notably inhibited CRC cell viability, and induced apoptosis and mitochondrial injury. In addition, MEX3A knockdown markedly induced G1 phase cell cycle arrest in CRC cells via downregulating CDK2 expression. In conclusion, the findings of the present study suggested that MEX3A knockdown may inhibit the tumorigenesis of CRC cells by regulating CDK2 expression. Therefore, MEX3A may serve as a novel target for CRC treatment.
    Keywords:  CDK2; cell apoptosis; colorectal cancer; mex-3 RNA binding family member A
  5. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Sep 29. pii: 4906. [Epub ahead of print]13(19):
      Although immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have shown promising results in the treatment of treating various malignancies, progress has been severely limited in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). ICIs are effective in a fraction of patients with microsatellite instability-high mCRC but have little clinical efficacy in patients with microsatellite stable (MSS) mCRC, which accounts for 95% of mCRC cases. MSS mCRCs are considered to have intrinsic resistance to ICI monotherapy through multiple mechanisms. (1) They are poorly immunogenic because of their low tumor mutation burden; (2) frequent activation of the WNT/β-catenin signaling pathway excludes intratumoral CD8+ T cell immunity; (3) the tumor microenvironment is immunosuppressive because of the presence of various immunosuppressive cells, including tumor-associated macrophages and regulatory T cells; and (4) frequent liver metastasis in MSS mCRC may reduce the efficacy of ICIs. To overcome these resistance mechanisms, combination approaches using various agents, including STING agonists, MEK inhibitors, VEGF/R inhibitors, WNT/β-catenin inhibitors, oncolytic viruses, and chemo/radiotherapy, are actively ongoing. Preliminary evidence of the efficacy of some has been shown in early clinical trials. This review summarizes novel combination immunotherapy strategies described in recent preclinical and clinical studies to overcome the limitations of ICI monotherapy in MSS mCRC.
    Keywords:  colorectal cancer; immune checkpoint inhibitor; immunotherapy; microsatellite stability; mismatch repair proficiency; resistance
  6. Nature. 2021 Oct 13.
      Human epithelial tissues accumulate cancer-driver mutations with age1-9, yet tumour formation remains rare. The positive selection of these mutations suggests that they alter the behaviour and fitness of proliferating cells10-12. Thus, normal adult tissues become a patchwork of mutant clones competing for space and survival, with the fittest clones expanding by eliminating their less competitive neighbours11-14. However, little is known about how such dynamic competition in normal epithelia influences early tumorigenesis. Here we show that the majority of newly formed oesophageal tumours are eliminated through competition with mutant clones in the adjacent normal epithelium. We followed the fate of nascent, microscopic, pre-malignant tumours in a mouse model of oesophageal carcinogenesis and found that most were rapidly lost with no indication of tumour cell death, decreased proliferation or an anti-tumour immune response. However, deep sequencing of ten-day-old and one-year-old tumours showed evidence of selection on the surviving neoplasms. Induction of highly competitive clones in transgenic mice increased early tumour removal, whereas pharmacological inhibition of clonal competition reduced tumour loss. These results support a model in which survival of early neoplasms depends on their competitive fitness relative to that of mutant clones in the surrounding normal tissue. Mutant clones in normal epithelium have an unexpected anti-tumorigenic role in purging early tumours through cell competition, thereby preserving tissue integrity.