Medulloblastoma, an aggressive cancer of the cerebellum, is among the most common pediatric brain tumors. Approximately one-third of medulloblastomas are associated with misactivation of the Hedgehog (Hh) pathway. GLI family zinc finger 2 (GLI2) coordinates the Hh transcriptional program; however, the GLI2 targets that promote cancer cell proliferation are unknown. Here, we incorporated a Gli2-EGFP allele into 2 different genetic mouse models of Hh-associated medulloblastoma. Hh signaling induced GLI2 binding to the Cdk6 promoter and activated Cdk6 expression, thereby promoting uncontrolled cell proliferation. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of CDK6 in mice repressed the growth of Hh-associated medulloblastoma and prolonged survival through inhibition of cell proliferation. In human medulloblastoma, misactivation of Hh signaling was associated with high levels of CDK6, pointing to CDK6 as a direct transcriptional target of the Hh pathway. These results suggest that CDK6 antagonists may be a promising therapeutic approach for Hh-associated medulloblastoma in humans.
David R. Raleigh, Pervinder K. Choksi, Alexis Leigh Krup, Wasima Mayer, Nicole Santos, Jeremy F. Reiter
Synovial sarcoma (SS) is an aggressive soft-tissue sarcoma that is often discovered during adolescence and young adulthood. Despite the name, synovial sarcoma does not typically arise from a synoviocyte but instead arises in close proximity to bones. Previous work demonstrated that mice expressing the characteristic SS18-SSX fusion oncogene in myogenic factor 5–expressing (Myf5-expressing) cells develop fully penetrant sarcomagenesis, suggesting skeletal muscle progenitor cell origin. However, Myf5 is not restricted to committed myoblasts in embryos but is also expressed in multipotent mesenchymal progenitors. Here, we demonstrated that human SS and mouse tumors arising from SS18-SSX expression in the embryonic, but not postnatal, Myf5 lineage share an anatomic location that is frequently adjacent to bone. Additionally, we showed that SS can originate from periosteal cells expressing SS18-SSX alone and from preosteoblasts expressing the fusion oncogene accompanied by the added stabilization of β-catenin, which is a common secondary change in SS. Expression and secretion of the osteoclastogenesis inhibitory factor osteoprotegerin enabled early growth of SS18-SSX2–transformed cells, indicating a paracrine link between the bone and synovial sarcomagenesis. These findings explain the skeletal contact frequently observed in human SS and may provide alternate means of enabling SS18-SSX–driven oncogenesis in cells as differentiated as preosteoblasts.
Jared J. Barrott, Benjamin E. Illum, Huifeng Jin, Matthew L. Hedberg, Yanliang Wang, Allie Grossmann, Malay Haldar, Mario R. Capecchi, Kevin B. Jones
p120-Catenin (p120) functions as a tumor suppressor in intestinal cancer, but the mechanism is unclear. Here, using conditional p120 knockout in Apc-sensitized mouse models of intestinal cancer, we have identified p120 as an “obligatory” haploinsufficient tumor suppressor. Whereas monoallelic loss of p120 was associated with a significant increase in tumor multiplicity, loss of both alleles was never observed in tumors from these mice. Moreover, forced ablation of the second allele did not further enhance tumorigenesis, but instead induced synthetic lethality in combination with Apc loss of heterozygosity. In tumor-derived organoid cultures, elimination of both p120 alleles resulted in caspase-3–dependent apoptosis that was blocked by inhibition of Rho kinase (ROCK). With ROCK inhibition, however, p120-ablated organoids exhibited a branching phenotype and a substantial increase in cell proliferation. Access to data from Sleeping Beauty mutagenesis screens afforded an opportunity to directly assess the tumorigenic impact of p120 haploinsufficiency relative to other candidate drivers. Remarkably, p120 ranked third among the 919 drivers identified. Cofactors α-catenin and epithelial cadherin (E-cadherin) were also among the highest scoring candidates, indicating a mechanism at the level of the intact complex that may play an important role at very early stages of of intestinal tumorigenesis while simultaneously restricting outright loss via synthetic lethality.
Sarah P. Short, Jumpei Kondo, Whitney G. Smalley-Freed, Haruna Takeda, Michael R. Dohn, Anne E. Powell, Robert H. Carnahan, Mary K. Washington, Manish Tripathi, D. Michael Payne, Nancy A. Jenkins, Neal G. Copeland, Robert J. Coffey, Albert B. Reynolds
Conventional therapies for breast cancer brain metastases (BCBMs) have been largely ineffective because of chemoresistance and impermeability of the blood-brain barrier. A comprehensive understanding of the underlying mechanism that allows breast cancer cells to infiltrate the brain is necessary to circumvent treatment resistance of BCBMs. Here, we determined that expression of a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) that we have named lncRNA associated with BCBM (Lnc-BM) is prognostic of the progression of brain metastasis in breast cancer patients. In preclinical murine models, elevated Lnc-BM expression drove BCBM, while depletion of Lnc-BM with nanoparticle-encapsulated siRNAs effectively treated BCBM. Lnc-BM increased JAK2 kinase activity to mediate oncostatin M– and IL-6–triggered STAT3 phosphorylation. In breast cancer cells, Lnc-BM promoted STAT3-dependent expression of ICAM1 and CCL2, which mediated vascular co-option and recruitment of macrophages in the brain, respectively. Recruited macrophages in turn produced oncostatin M and IL-6, thereby further activating the Lnc-BM/JAK2/STAT3 pathway and enhancing BCBM. Collectively, our results show that Lnc-BM and JAK2 promote BCBMs by mediating communication between breast cancer cells and the brain microenvironment. Moreover, these results suggest targeting Lnc-BM as a potential strategy for fighting this difficult disease.
Shouyu Wang, Ke Liang, Qingsong Hu, Ping Li, Jian Song, Yuedong Yang, Jun Yao, Lingegowda Selanere Mangala, Chunlai Li, Wenhao Yang, Peter K. Park, David H. Hawke, Jianwei Zhou, Yan Zhou, Weiya Xia, Mien-Chie Hung, Jeffrey R. Marks, Gary E. Gallick, Gabriel Lopez-Berestein, Elsa R. Flores, Anil K. Sood, Suyun Huang, Dihua Yu, Liuqing Yang, Chunru Lin
Transcriptional repression of ubiquitin B (UBB) is a cancer-subtype-specific alteration that occurs in a substantial population of patients with cancers of the female reproductive tract. UBB is 1 of 2 genes encoding for ubiquitin as a polyprotein consisting of multiple copies of ubiquitin monomers. Silencing of UBB reduces cellular UBB levels and results in an exquisite dependence on ubiquitin C (UBC), the second polyubiquitin gene. UBB is repressed in approximately 30% of high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) patients and is a recurrent lesion in uterine carcinosarcoma and endometrial carcinoma. We identified ovarian tumor cell lines that retain UBB in a repressed state, used these cell lines to establish orthotopic ovarian tumors, and found that inducible expression of a UBC-targeting shRNA led to tumor regression, and substantial long-term survival benefit. Thus, we describe a recurrent cancer-specific lesion at the level of ubiquitin production. Moreover, these observations reveal the prognostic value of UBB repression and establish UBC as a promising therapeutic target for ovarian cancer patients with recurrent UBB silencing.
Alexia T. Kedves, Scott Gleim, Xiaoyou Liang, Dennis M. Bonal, Frederic Sigoillot, Fred Harbinski, Sneha Sanghavi, Christina Benander, Elizabeth George, Prafulla C. Gokhale, Quang-De Nguyen, Paul T. Kirschmeier, Robert J. Distel, Jeremy Jenkins, Michael S. Goldberg, William C. Forrester
NK cells, lymphocytes of the innate immune system, are important for defense against infectious pathogens and cancer. Classically, the CD56dim NK cell subset is thought to mediate antitumor responses, whereas the CD56bright subset is involved in immunomodulation. Here, we challenge this paradigm by demonstrating that brief priming with IL-15 markedly enhanced the antitumor response of CD56bright NK cells. Priming improved multiple CD56bright cell functions: degranulation, cytotoxicity, and cytokine production. Primed CD56bright cells from leukemia patients demonstrated enhanced responses to autologous blasts in vitro, and primed CD56bright cells controlled leukemia cells in vivo in a murine xenograft model. Primed CD56bright cells from multiple myeloma (MM) patients displayed superior responses to autologous myeloma targets, and furthermore, CD56bright NK cells from MM patients primed with the IL-15 receptor agonist ALT-803 in vivo displayed enhanced ex vivo functional responses to MM targets. Effector mechanisms contributing to IL-15–based priming included improved cytotoxic protein expression, target cell conjugation, and LFA-1–, CD2-, and NKG2D-dependent activation of NK cells. Finally, IL-15 robustly stimulated the PI3K/Akt/mTOR and MEK/ERK pathways in CD56bright compared with CD56dim NK cells, and blockade of these pathways attenuated antitumor responses. These findings identify CD56bright NK cells as potent antitumor effectors that warrant further investigation as a cancer immunotherapy.
Julia A. Wagner, Maximillian Rosario, Rizwan Romee, Melissa M. Berrien-Elliott, Stephanie E. Schneider, Jeffrey W. Leong, Ryan P. Sullivan, Brea A. Jewell, Michelle Becker-Hapak, Timothy Schappe, Sara Abdel-Latif, Aaron R. Ireland, Devika Jaishankar, Justin A. King, Ravi Vij, Dennis Clement, Jodie Goodridge, Karl-Johan Malmberg, Hing C. Wong, Todd A. Fehniger
Tumors adapt to an unfavorable microenvironment by controlling the balance between cell proliferation and cell motility, but the regulators of this process are largely unknown. Here, we show that an alternatively spliced isoform of syntaphilin (SNPH), a cytoskeletal regulator of mitochondrial movements in neurons, is directed to mitochondria of tumor cells. Mitochondrial SNPH buffers oxidative stress and maintains complex II–dependent bioenergetics, sustaining local tumor growth while restricting mitochondrial redistribution to the cortical cytoskeleton and tumor cell motility. Conversely, introduction of stress stimuli to the microenvironment, including hypoxia, acutely lowered SNPH levels, resulting in bioenergetics defects and increased superoxide production. In turn, this suppressed tumor cell proliferation but increased tumor cell invasion via greater mitochondrial trafficking to the cortical cytoskeleton. Loss of SNPH or expression of an SNPH mutant lacking the mitochondrial localization sequence resulted in increased metastatic dissemination in xenograft or syngeneic tumor models in vivo. Accordingly, tumor cells that acquired the ability to metastasize in vivo constitutively downregulated SNPH and exhibited higher oxidative stress, reduced cell proliferation, and increased cell motility. Therefore, SNPH is a stress-regulated mitochondrial switch of the cell proliferation-motility balance in cancer, and its pathway may represent a therapeutic target.
M. Cecilia Caino, Jae Ho Seo, Yuan Wang, Dayana B. Rivadeneira, Dmitry I. Gabrilovich, Eui Tae Kim, Ashani T. Weeraratna, Lucia R. Languino, Dario C. Altieri
The gene that encodes de novo DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) is frequently mutated in acute myeloid leukemia genomes. Point mutations at position R882 have been shown to cause a dominant negative loss of DNMT3A methylation activity, but 15% of DNMT3A mutations are predicted to produce truncated proteins that could either have dominant negative activities or cause loss of function and haploinsufficiency. Here, we demonstrate that 3 of these mutants produce truncated, inactive proteins that do not dimerize with WT DNMT3A, strongly supporting the haploinsufficiency hypothesis. We therefore evaluated hematopoiesis in mice heterozygous for a constitutive null Dnmt3a mutation. With no other manipulations, Dnmt3a+/– mice developed myeloid skewing over time, and their hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells exhibited a long-term competitive transplantation advantage. Dnmt3a+/– mice also spontaneously developed transplantable myeloid malignancies after a long latent period, and 3 of 12 tumors tested had cooperating mutations in the Ras/MAPK pathway. The residual Dnmt3a allele was neither mutated nor downregulated in these tumors. The bone marrow cells of Dnmt3a+/– mice had a subtle but statistically significant DNA hypomethylation phenotype that was not associated with gene dysregulation. These data demonstrate that haploinsufficiency for Dnmt3a alters hematopoiesis and predisposes mice (and probably humans) to myeloid malignancies by a mechanism that is not yet clear.
Christopher B. Cole, David A. Russler-Germain, Shamika Ketkar, Angela M. Verdoni, Amanda M. Smith, Celia V. Bangert, Nichole M. Helton, Mindy Guo, Jeffery M. Klco, Shelly O’Laughlin, Catrina Fronick, Robert Fulton, Gue Su Chang, Allegra A. Petti, Christopher A. Miller, Timothy J. Ley
Blood vessels in the tumor periphery have high pericyte coverage and are resistant to vascular disrupting agents (VDAs). VDA treatment resistance leads to a viable peripheral tumor rim that contributes to treatment failure and disease recurrence. Here, we provide evidence to support a hypothesis that shifting the target of VDAs from tumor vessel endothelial cells to pericytes disrupts tumor peripheral vessels and the viable rim, circumventing VDA treatment resistance. Through chemical engineering, we developed Z-GP-DAVLBH (from the tubulin-binding VDA desacetylvinblastine monohydrazide [DAVLBH]) as a prodrug that can be selectively activated by fibroblast activation protein α (FAPα) in tumor pericytes. Z-GP-DAVLBH selectively destroys the cytoskeleton of FAPα-expressing tumor pericytes, disrupting blood vessels both within the core and around the periphery of tumors. As a result, Z-GP-DAVLBH treatment eradicated the otherwise VDA-resistant tumor rim and led to complete regression of tumors in multiple lines of xenografts without producing the drug-related toxicity that is associated with similar doses of DAVLBH. This study demonstrates that targeting tumor pericytes with an FAPα-activated VDA prodrug represents a potential vascular disruption strategy in overcoming tumor resistance to VDA treatments.
Minfeng Chen, Xueping Lei, Changzheng Shi, Maohua Huang, Xiaobo Li, Baojian Wu, Zhengqiu Li, Weili Han, Bin Du, Jianyang Hu, Qiulin Nie, Weiqian Mai, Nan Ma, Nanhui Xu, Xinyi Zhang, Chunlin Fan, Aihua Hong, Minghan Xia, Liangping Luo, Ande Ma, Hongsheng Li, Qiang Yu, Heru Chen, Dongmei Zhang, Wencai Ye
Claudin-low breast cancer is an aggressive subtype that confers poor prognosis and is found largely within the clinical triple-negative group of breast cancer patients. Here, we have shown that intrinsic and immune cell gene signatures distinguish the claudin-low subtype clinically as well as in mouse models of other breast cancer subtypes. Despite adaptive immune cell infiltration in claudin-low tumors, treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitory antibodies against cytotoxic T lymphocyte–associated protein 4 (CTLA-4) and programmed death receptor 1 (PD-1) were ineffective in controlling tumor growth. CD4+FoxP3+ Tregs represented a large proportion of the tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in claudin-low tumors, and Tregs isolated from tumor-bearing mice were able to suppress effector T cell responses. Tregs in the tumor microenvironment highly expressed PD-1 and were recruited partly through tumor generation of the chemokine CXCL12. Antitumor efficacy required stringent Treg depletion combined with checkpoint inhibition; delays in tumor growth were not observed using therapies that modestly diminished the number of Tregs in the tumor microenvironment. This study provides evidence that the recruitment of Tregs to the tumor microenvironment inhibits an effective antitumor immune response and highlights early Treg recruitment as a possible mechanism for the lack of response to immune checkpoint blockade antibodies in specific subtypes of cancer that are heavily infiltrated with adaptive immune cells.
Nicholas A. Taylor, Sarah C. Vick, Michael D. Iglesia, W. June Brickey, Bentley R. Midkiff, Karen P. McKinnon, Shannon Reisdorf, Carey K. Anders, Lisa A. Carey, Joel S. Parker, Charles M. Perou, Benjamin G. Vincent, Jonathan S. Serody