bims-instec Biomed News
on Intestinal stem cells and chemoresistance in colon cancer and intestinal regeneration
Issue of 2021‒12‒19
nine papers selected by
Maria-Virginia Giolito

  1. Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021 Dec 13. pii: S2352-345X(21)00255-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      The epithelial lining of the intestine, particularly the stem cell compartment, is affected by harsh conditions in the luminal environment and is also susceptible to genotoxic agents such as radiation and chemotherapy. Therefore, the ability for intestinal epithelial cells to revert to a stem cell state is an important physiological damage response to regenerate the intestinal epithelium at sites of mucosal injury. Many signaling networks involved in maintaining the stem cell niche are activated as a part of the damage response to promote cellular plasticity and regeneration. The relative contribution of each cell type and signaling pathway is a critical area of ongoing research, likely dependent on the nature of injury as well as the regional specification within the intestine. Here, we review the current understanding of the multicellular cooperation to restore the intestinal epithelium after damage.
  2. Development. 2021 Dec 15. pii: dev.199587. [Epub ahead of print]
      While Wnt signaling is clearly important for the intestinal epithelial homeostasis, the relevance of various sources of Wnt ligands themselves remains incompletely understood. Wnt blockage in distinct stromal cell types suggested obligatory functions of several stromal cell sources and yielded different observations. The physiological contribution of epithelial Wnt to tissue homeostasis remains unclear. We show here that blocking epithelial Wnts affected colonic Reg4+ epithelial cell differentiation, and impaired colonic epithelial regeneration after injury. Single cell RNA analysis of intestinal stroma showed that the majority of Wnt-producing cells were contained in transgelin (Tagln+) and smooth muscle actin alpha 2 (Acta2+) expressing populations. We genetically attenuated Wnt production from these stromal cells using Tagln-Cre and Acta2-CreER drivers, and found that Wnt blockage from either epithelium or Tagln+ and Acta2+ stromal cells impaired colonic epithelial healing after chemical-induced injury. Aggregated Wnt blockage from both epithelium and Tagln+ or Acta2+ stromal cells drastically diminished epithelial repair, increasing morbidity and mortality. These results from two uncharacterized stromal populations suggested that colonic recovery from colitis-like injury depends on multiple Wnt-producing sources.
    Keywords:  Acta2; Colitis; Gpr177; Intestinal Stem Cell; Tagln; Wnt; Wntless; Wound Healing
  3. Elife. 2021 Dec 13. pii: e69729. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Increased protein synthesis supports the rapid cell proliferation associated with cancer. The Rpl24Bst mutant mouse reduces the expression of the ribosomal protein RPL24 and has been used to suppress translation and limit tumorigenesis in multiple mouse models of cancer. Here, we show that Rpl24Bst also suppresses tumorigenesis and proliferation in a model of colorectal cancer (CRC) with two common patient mutations, Apc and Kras. In contrast to previous reports, Rpl24Bst mutation has no effect on ribosomal subunit abundance but suppresses translation elongation through phosphorylation of eEF2, reducing protein synthesis by 40% in tumour cells. Ablating eEF2 phosphorylation in Rpl24Bst mutant mice by inactivating its kinase, eEF2K, completely restores the rates of elongation and protein synthesis. Furthermore, eEF2K activity is required for the Rpl24Bst mutant to suppress tumorigenesis. This work demonstrates that elevation of eEF2 phosphorylation is an effective means to suppress colorectal tumorigenesis with two driver mutations. This positions translation elongation as a therapeutic target in CRC, as well as in other cancers where the Rpl24Bst mutation has a tumour suppressive effect in mouse models.
    Keywords:  RPL24; cancer biology; cell biology; eEF2K; in vivo models; intestinal cancer; mouse; protein sythesis; translation
  4. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 769385
      Radiation therapy for abdominal tumors is challenging because the small intestine is exquisitely radiosensitive. Unfortunately, there are no FDA-approved therapies to prevent or mitigate GI radiotoxicity. The EGLN protein family are oxygen sensors that regulate cell survival and metabolism through the degradation of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs). Our group has previously shown that stabilization of HIF2 through genetic deletion or pharmacologic inhibition of the EGLNs mitigates and protects against GI radiotoxicity in mice by improving intestinal crypt stem cell survival. Here we aimed to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which HIF2 confers GI radioprotection. We developed duodenal organoids from mice, transiently overexpressed non-degradable HIF2, and performed bulk RNA sequencing. Interestingly, HIF2 upregulated known radiation modulators and genes involved in GI homeostasis, including Wnt5a. Non-canonical Wnt5a signaling has been shown by other groups to improve intestinal crypt regeneration in response to injury. Here we show that HIF2 drives Wnt5a expression in multiple duodenal organoid models. Luciferase reporter assays performed in human cells showed that HIF2 directly activates the WNT5A promoter via a hypoxia response element. We then evaluated crypt regeneration using spheroid formation assays. Duodenal organoids that were pre-treated with recombinant Wnt5a had a higher cryptogenic capacity after irradiation, compared to vehicle-treated organoids. Conversely, we found that Wnt5a knockout decreased the cryptogenic potential of intestinal stem cells following irradiation. Treatment with recombinant Wnt5a prior to irradiation rescued the cryptogenic capacity of Wnt5a knockout organoids, indicating that Wnt5a is necessary and sufficient for duodenal radioprotection. Taken together, our results suggest that HIF2 radioprotects the GI tract by inducing Wnt5a expression.
    Keywords:  GI radiotoxicity; HIF2; Wnt5a; hypoxia; intestinal stem cells; radiotherapy
  5. Cell. 2021 Dec 08. pii: S0092-8674(21)01381-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Colorectal cancers (CRCs) arise from precursor polyps whose cellular origins, molecular heterogeneity, and immunogenic potential may reveal diagnostic and therapeutic insights when analyzed at high resolution. We present a single-cell transcriptomic and imaging atlas of the two most common human colorectal polyps, conventional adenomas and serrated polyps, and their resulting CRC counterparts. Integrative analysis of 128 datasets from 62 participants reveals adenomas arise from WNT-driven expansion of stem cells, while serrated polyps derive from differentiated cells through gastric metaplasia. Metaplasia-associated damage is coupled to a cytotoxic immune microenvironment preceding hypermutation, driven partly by antigen-presentation differences associated with tumor cell-differentiation status. Microsatellite unstable CRCs contain distinct non-metaplastic regions where tumor cells acquire stem cell properties and cytotoxic immune cells are depleted. Our multi-omic atlas provides insights into malignant progression of colorectal polyps and their microenvironment, serving as a framework for precision surveillance and prevention of CRC.
    Keywords:  adenoma; colorectal cancer; cytotoxic; differentiation; metaplasia; multiplex; polyp; serrated; single-cell RNA-seq; stem cells
  6. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 ;9 765578
      Colorectal cancer (CRC) manifests as gastrointestinal tumors with high intratumoral heterogeneity. Recent studies have demonstrated that CRC may consist of tumor cells with different consensus molecular subtypes (CMS). The advancements in single-cell RNA sequencing have facilitated the development of gene regulatory networks to decode key regulators for specific cell types. Herein, we comprehensively analyzed the CMS of CRC patients by using single-cell RNA-sequencing data. CMS for all malignant cells were assigned using CMScaller. Gene set variation analysis showed pathway activity differences consistent with those reported in previous studies. Cell-cell communication analysis confirmed that CMS1 was more closely related to immune cells, and that monocytes and macrophages play dominant roles in the CRC tumor microenvironment. On the basis of the constructed gene regulation networks (GRNs) for each subtype, we identified that the critical transcription factor ERG is universally activated and upregulated in all CMS in comparison with normal cells, and that it performed diverse roles by regulating the expression of different downstream genes. In summary, molecular subtyping of single-cell RNA-sequencing data for colorectal cancer could elucidate the heterogeneity in gene regulatory networks and identify critical regulators of CRC.
    Keywords:  ERG; colorectal cancer; consensus molecular subtypes; gene regulation networks; single-cell RNA sequencing
  7. ACS Appl Bio Mater. 2020 Sep 21. 3(9): 5832-5844
      Metastasis remains the leading cause of cancer-associated death worldwide. Disseminated tumor cells can undergo dormancy upon infiltration of secondary organs, and chemotherapeutics fail to effectively eliminate dormant populations. Mechanistic understanding of dormancy-associated chemoresistance could lead to development of targeted therapeutic strategies. Toward this goal, we implemented three poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-based hydrogel formulations fabricated from proteolytically degradable PEG (PEG-PQ), integrin ligating PEG-RGDS, and the non-degradable cross-linker N-vinylpyrrolidone (NVP) to induce three distinct phenotypes in triple negative MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. With constant 5% w/v PEG-PQ, PEG-RGDS and NVP concentrations were tuned to induce (i) a growth state characterized by high proliferation, high metabolic activity, significant temporally increased cell density, and an invasive morphology; (ii) a balanced dormancy state characterized by a temporal balance (~1:1 ratio) in new live and dead cell density and a non-invasive morphology; and (iii) a cellular dormancy state characterized by rounded, solitary quiescent cells with low viability, proliferation, and metabolic activity. The cellular responses to doxorubicin (DOX), paclitaxel (PAC), and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) in the three phenotypic states were quantified. Under DOX treatment, cells in dormant states demonstrated increased chemoresistance with a 1.4- to 1.8-fold increase in half maximal effective concentration (EC50) and 1.3- to 1.8-fold increase in half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) compared to cells in the growth state. PAC and 5-FU treatment led to similar results. To mechanistically investigate the role of dormancy in conferring DOX resistance, cytoplasmic and nuclear accumulation of DOX was measured. The results indicated comparable DOX accumulation between all three phenotypic states; however, the intracellular to intranuclear distribution indicated a ~1.5 fold increase in DOX nuclear accumulation in cells in the growth state compared to the two dormant states. These results further validate the utility of implementing engineered hydrogels as in vitro platforms of breast cancer dormancy for the development of anti-dormancy therapeutic strategies.
    Keywords:  drug screening; extracellular matrix; latency; metastasis; tissue engineering