bims-instec Biomed News
on Intestinal stem cells and chemoresistance in colon cancer and intestinal regeneration
Issue of 2023‒11‒19
nine papers selected by
Maria-Virginia Giolito, Université Catholique de Louvain

  1. Cell Discov. 2023 Nov 15. 9(1): 114
      CD8+ T cell activation via immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) is successful in microsatellite instable (MSI) colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. By comparison, the success of immunotherapy against microsatellite stable (MSS) CRC is limited. Little is known about the most critical features of CRC CD8+ T cells that together determine the diverse immune landscapes and contrasting ICB responses. Hence, we pursued a deep single cell mapping of CRC CD8+ T cells on transcriptomic and T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire levels in a diverse patient cohort, with additional surface proteome validation. This revealed that CRC CD8+ T cell dynamics are underscored by complex interactions between interferon-γ signaling, tumor reactivity, TCR repertoire, (predicted) TCR antigen-specificities, and environmental cues like gut microbiome or colon tissue-specific 'self-like' features. MSI CRC CD8+ T cells showed tumor-specific activation reminiscent of canonical 'T cell hot' tumors, whereas the MSS CRC CD8+ T cells exhibited tumor unspecific or bystander-like features. This was accompanied by inflammation reminiscent of 'pseudo-T cell hot' tumors. Consequently, MSI and MSS CRC CD8+ T cells showed overlapping phenotypic features that differed dramatically in their TCR antigen-specificities. Given their high discriminating potential for CD8+ T cell features/specificities, we used the single cell tumor-reactive signaling modules in CD8+ T cells to build a bulk tumor transcriptome classification for CRC patients. This "Immune Subtype Classification" (ISC) successfully distinguished various tumoral immune landscapes that showed prognostic value and predicted immunotherapy responses in CRC patients. Thus, we deliver a unique map of CRC CD8+ T cells that drives a novel tumor immune landscape classification, with relevance for immunotherapy decision-making.
  2. J Pathol. 2023 Nov 15.
      Mismatch repair-deficient (MMRd) colorectal cancers (CRCs) have high mutation burdens, which make these tumours immunogenic and many respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors. The MMRd hypermutator phenotype may also promote intratumour heterogeneity (ITH) and cancer evolution. We applied multiregion sequencing and CD8 and programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) immunostaining to systematically investigate ITH and how genetic and immune landscapes coevolve. All cases had high truncal mutation burdens. Despite pervasive ITH, driver aberrations showed a clear hierarchy. Those in WNT/β-catenin, mitogen-activated protein kinase, and TGF-β receptor family genes were almost always truncal. Immune evasion (IE) drivers, such as inactivation of genes involved in antigen presentation or IFN-γ signalling, were predominantly subclonal and showed parallel evolution. These IE drivers have been implicated in immune checkpoint inhibitor resistance or sensitivity. Clonality assessments are therefore important for the development of predictive immunotherapy biomarkers in MMRd CRCs. Phylogenetic analysis identified three distinct patterns of IE driver evolution: pan-tumour evolution, subclonal evolution, and evolutionary stasis. These, but neither mutation burdens nor heterogeneity metrics, significantly correlated with T-cell densities, which were used as a surrogate marker of tumour immunogenicity. Furthermore, this revealed that genetic and T-cell infiltrates coevolve in MMRd CRCs. Low T-cell densities in the subgroup without any known IE drivers may indicate an, as yet unknown, IE mechanism. PD-L1 was expressed in the tumour microenvironment in most samples and correlated with T-cell densities. However, PD-L1 expression in cancer cells was independent of T-cell densities but strongly associated with loss of the intestinal homeobox transcription factor CDX2. This explains infrequent PD-L1 expression by cancer cells and may contribute to a higher recurrence risk of MMRd CRCs with impaired CDX2 expression. © 2023 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
    Keywords:  PD-L1; biomarkers; cancer evolution; colorectal cancer; immunotherapy; mismatch repair deficiency
  3. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023 Nov 21. 120(47): e2312453120
      To mediate critical host-microbe interactions in the human small intestine, Paneth cells constitutively produce abundant levels of α-defensins and other antimicrobials. We report that the expression profile of these antimicrobials is dramatically askew in human small intestinal organoids (enteroids) as compared to that in paired tissue from which they are derived, with a reduction of α-defensins to nearly undetectable levels. Murine enteroids, however, recapitulate the expression profile of Paneth cell α-defensins seen in tissue. WNT/TCF signaling has been found to be instrumental in the regulation of α-defensins, yet in human enteroids exogenous stimulation of WNT signaling appears insufficient to rescue α-defensin expression. By stark contrast, forkhead box O (FOXO) inhibitor AS1842856 induced the expression of α-defensin mRNA in enteroids by >100,000-fold, restoring DEFA5 and DEFA6 to levels comparable to those found in primary human tissue. These results newly identify FOXO signaling as a pathway of biological and potentially therapeutic relevance for the regulation of human Paneth cell α-defensins in health and disease.
    Keywords:  FOXO; Paneth cell; alpha-defensin; enteroid; stem cell
  4. Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2023 Nov 15. pii: S1084-9521(23)00229-X. [Epub ahead of print]156 1-10
      The emergence of therapeutic resistance remains a formidable barrier to durable responses by cancer patients and is a major cause of cancer-related deaths. It is increasingly recognized that non-genetic mechanisms of acquired resistance are important in many cancers. These mechanisms of resistance rely on inherent cellular plasticity where cancer cells can switch between multiple phenotypic states without genetic alterations, providing a dynamic, reversible resistance landscape. Such mechanisms underlie the generation of drug-tolerant persister (DTP) cells, a subpopulation of tumour cells that contributes to heterogeneity within tumours and that supports therapeutic resistance. In this review, we provide an overview of the major features of DTP cells, focusing on phenotypic and metabolic plasticity as two key drivers of tolerance and persistence. We discuss the link between DTP cell plasticity and the potential vulnerability of these cells to ferroptosis. We also discuss the relationship between DTP cells and cells that survive the induction of apoptosis, a process termed anastasis, and discuss the properties of such cells in the context of increased metastatic potential and sensitivity to cell death mechanisms such as ferroptosis.
    Keywords:  Anastasis; Drug tolerant persister cell; Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; Ferroptosis; Plasticity; Therapy resistance
  5. Cancers (Basel). 2023 Oct 31. pii: 5243. [Epub ahead of print]15(21):
      Metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) with mutated BRAF exhibits distinct biological and molecular features that set it apart from other subtypes of CRC. Current standard treatment for these tumors involves a combination of chemotherapy (CT) and VEGF inhibitors. Recently, targeted therapy against BRAF and immunotherapy (IT) for cases with microsatellite instability (MSI) have been integrated into clinical practice. While targeted therapy has shown promising results, resistance to treatment eventually develops in a significant portion of responsive patients. This article aims to review the available literature on mechanisms of resistance to BRAF inhibitors (BRAFis) and potential therapeutic strategies to overcome them.
    Keywords:  BRAF; colorectal cancer; inhibitors; resistance
  6. Elife. 2023 11 13. pii: RP86655. [Epub ahead of print]12
      Heterogeneity of colorectal carcinoma (CRC) represents a major hurdle towards personalized medicine. Efforts based on whole tumor profiling demonstrated that the CRC molecular subtypes were associated with specific tumor morphological patterns representing tumor subregions. We hypothesize that whole-tumor molecular descriptors depend on the morphological heterogeneity with significant impact on current molecular predictors. We investigated intra-tumor heterogeneity by morphology-guided transcriptomics to better understand the links between gene expression and tumor morphology represented by six morphological patterns (morphotypes): complex tubular, desmoplastic, mucinous, papillary, serrated, and solid/trabecular. Whole-transcriptome profiling by microarrays of 202 tumor regions (morphotypes, tumor-adjacent normal tissue, supportive stroma, and matched whole tumors) from 111 stage II-IV CRCs identified morphotype-specific gene expression profiles and molecular programs and differences in their cellular buildup. The proportion of cell types (fibroblasts, epithelial and immune cells) and differentiation of epithelial cells were the main drivers of the observed disparities with activation of EMT and TNF-α signaling in contrast to MYC and E2F targets signaling, defining major gradients of changes at molecular level. Several gene expression-based (including single-cell) classifiers, prognostic and predictive signatures were examined to study their behavior across morphotypes. Most exhibited important morphotype-dependent variability within same tumor sections, with regional predictions often contradicting the whole-tumor classification. The results show that morphotype-based tumor sampling allows the detection of molecular features that would otherwise be distilled in whole tumor profile, while maintaining histopathology context for their interpretation. This represents a practical approach at improving the reproducibility of expression profiling and, by consequence, of gene-based classifiers.
    Keywords:  cancer biology; colorectal cancer; human; intra-tumor heterogeneity; morphology; transcriptomics
  7. World J Surg Oncol. 2023 Nov 18. 21(1): 355
      The meta-analysis aimed to assess the clinical efficacy of chemotherapeutic triplet-drug regimen combined with anti-EGFR antibody in patients with initially unresectable metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). A systematic literature search was performed in PubMed Publisher. Studies evaluating FOLFOXIRI combine with panitumumab or cetuximab as the therapy for initially unresectable mCRC were included. The primary outcome was objective response rate (ORR) and rate of R0 resections. The secondary outcomes included overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), and grades 3 or 4 adverse events. R software (version 4.0.2) and RevMan (version 5.3) were used to analyze the extracted data. The studies included were published between 2010 and 2021, involving four single-arm phase II trials and two randomized phase II trials. A total of 6 studies with 282 patients were included. The data showed a significant benefit for the FOLFOXIRI + anti-EGFR antibody arm compared with FOLFOXIRI arm (RR 1.33; 95% CI, 1.13-1.58; I2 = 0%, P < 0.05). The pooled ORR and pooled rate of R0 resection in patients who receiving FOLFOXIRI + anti-EGFR antibody were 85% (95% CI, 0.78-0.91; I2 = 58%) and 42% (95% CI, 0.32-0.53; I2 = 62%), respectively. The range of median PFS between all the six studies was 9.5-15.5 months, with weighted pooled median PFS mean 11.7 months. The range of median OS between all the four studies was 24.7-37 months, with weighted pooled median PFS mean 31.9 months. The common grades 3 and 4 adverse events were diarrhea and neutropenia. Our findings show that triplet-drug chemotherapy (FOLFOXIRI) combined with anti-EGFR antibody (panitumumab or cetuximab) represents a very effective therapeutic combination associated with a significant ORR and R0 rection rate for patients with molecularly unselected and surgically unresectable metastatic CRC.
    Keywords:  Drug chemotherapy, Anti; EGFR antibody; Unresectable metastatic colorectal cancer, Triplet
  8. BMC Cancer. 2023 Nov 16. 23(1): 1117
      BACKGROUND: RAS mutations affect prognosis in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) and have been identified as strong negative predictive markers for anti-epidermal growth factor receptor monoclonal antibody (anti-EGFR mAb) therapy, but many tumors containing wild-type RAS genes still do not respond to these therapies. Some additional biomarkers may have prognostic or predictive roles, but conclusions remain controversial.METHODS: We performed a meta-analysis and systematic review of randomized controlled trials comparing anti-EGFR mAb therapy with alternative therapy that investigated the prognostic and predictive impact of additional biomarkers in RAS wild-type (wt) mCRC patients. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) and odds ratios (ORs) for objective response rate (ORR) were calculated. The prognostic value of biomarkers was investigated by separately pooling HR and OR for different treatment groups in an individual study. The predictive value was assessed by pooling study interactions between treatment effects and biomarker subgroups.
    RESULTS: Thirty publications reporting on eighteen trials were selected, including a total of 13,507 patients. In prognostic analysis, BRAF mutations were associated with poorer PFS [HRs = 3.76 (2.47-5.73) and 2.69 (1.82-3.98)] and OS [HRs = 2.66 (1.95-3.65) and 2.45 (1.55-3.88)] in both the experimental and control arms; low miR-31-3p expression appeared to have longer PFS and OS. In terms of predictive effect, a lack of response to anti-EGFR therapy was observed in patients with BRAF mutant tumors (Pinteraction < 0.01 for PFS). Patients with tumors with any mutation in the KRAS/NRAS/BRAF/PIK3CA gene also showed similar results compared with all wild-type tumors (Pinteraction for PFS, OS, and ORR were < 0.01, < 0.01 and 0.01, respectively). While low miR-31-3p expression could predict PFS (Pinteraction = 0.01) and OS (Pinteraction = 0.04) benefit. The prognostic and predictive value regarding PIK3CA mutations, PTEN mutations or deletions, EGFR, EREG/AREG, HER2, HER3, and HER4 expression remains uncertain.
    CONCLUSIONS: In RAS wt mCRC patients receiving EGFR-targeted therapy, BRAF mutation is a powerful prognostic and therapy-predictive biomarker, with no effect found for PIK3CA mutation, PTEN mutation or deletion, but the combined biomarker KRAS/NRAS/BRAF/PIK3CA mutations predict resistance to anti-EGFR therapy. Low miR-31-3p expression may have positive prognostic and therapy predictive effects. Evidence on the prognostic and predictive roles of EGFR and its ligands, and HER2/3/4 is insufficient.
    Keywords:  Anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody; Biomarkers; Colorectal cancer; Predictive value; Prognostic
  9. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2023 Nov 14.
      Keratins are epithelial intermediate filament proteins that play a crucial role in cellular stress protection, with K8 being the most abundant in the colon. The intestinal epithelial-specific K8-deficient mouse model (K8flox/flox;Villin-Cre) exhibits characteristics of inflammatory bowel disease, including diarrhea, crypt erosion, hyperproliferation and decreased barrier function. Nevertheless, the order in which these events occur and whether they are a direct cause of K8 loss or a consequence of one event inducing another remains unexplored. Increased knowledge about early events in the disruption of colon epithelial integrity would help to understand the early pathology of inflammatory and functional colon disorders and develop preclinical models and diagnostics of colonic diseases. Here, we aimed to characterize the order of physiological events after Krt8 loss by utilizing K8flox/flox;Villin-CreERt2 mice with tamoxifen-inducible Krt8 deletion in intestinal epithelial cells, and assess stool analysis as a noninvasive method to monitor real-time gene expression changes following Krt8 loss. K8 protein was significantly decreased within a day after induction, followed by its binding partners, K18 and K19 from day 4 onwards. The sequential colonic K8 downregulation in adult mice lead to immediate diarrhea and crypt elongation with activation of proliferation signaling, followed by crypt loss and increased neutrophil activity within 6-8 days, highlighting impaired water balance and crypt elongation as the earliest colonic changes upon Krt8 loss. Furthermore, epithelial gene expression patterns were comparable between colon tissue and stool samples, demonstrating the feasibility of noninvasive monitoring of gut epithelia in preclinical research utilizing Cre-LoxP-based intestinal disease models.
    Keywords:  Exfoliated cells; Keratin; Mouse model; Noninvasive; Simple epithelium