The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2) is a potentially novel and promising anticancer target due to its critical roles in proliferation, apoptosis, and metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells. However, the activity and function of mTORC2 in distinct cells within malignant tissue in vivo is insufficiently explored. Surprisingly, in primary human and mouse colorectal cancer (CRC) samples, mTORC2 signaling could not be detected in tumor cells. In contrast, only macrophages in tumor-adjacent areas showed mTORC2 activity, which was downregulated in stromal macrophages residing within human and mouse tumor tissues. Functionally, inhibition of mTORC2 by specific deletion of Rictor in macrophages stimulated tumorigenesis in a colitis-associated CRC mouse model. This phenotype was driven by a proinflammatory reprogramming of mTORC2-deficient macrophages that promoted colitis via the cytokine SPP1/osteopontin to stimulate tumor growth. In human CRC patients, high SPP1 levels and low mTORC2 activity in tumor-associated macrophages correlated with a worsened clinical prognosis. Treatment of mice with a second-generation mTOR inhibitor that inhibits mTORC2 and mTORC1 exacerbated experimental colorectal tumorigenesis in vivo. In conclusion, mTORC2 activity is confined to macrophages in CRC and limits tumorigenesis. These results suggest activation but not inhibition of mTORC2 as a therapeutic strategy for colitis-associated CRC.
Karl Katholnig, Birgit Schütz, Stephanie D. Fritsch, David Schörghofer, Monika Linke, Nyamdelger Sukhbaatar, Julia M. Matschinger, Daniela Unterleuthner, Martin Hirtl, Michaela Lang, Merima Herac, Andreas Spittler, Andreas Bergthaler, Gernot Schabbauer, Michael Bergmann, Helmut Dolznig, Markus Hengstschläger, Mark A. Magnuson, Mario Mikula, Thomas Weichhart
Platelet inositol hexakisphosphate kinase 1 (IP6K1) has been shown to control systemic inflammation. Herein, we examined if platelets and IP6K1 regulate pancreatic tissue injury via formation of NETs in experimental models of acute pancreatitis (AP) in mice. By use of electron microscopy abundant NET formation was observed in the inflamed pancreas. These NETs contained numerous microparticles (MP) expressing CD41 or Mac-1. Platelet depletion reduced deposition of NET-MP complexes in the inflamed pancreas. Circulating platelet-neutrophil aggregates (PNA) were increased and inhibition of P-selectin not only disrupted PNA formation but also reduced NETs formation in the inflamed pancreas. NETs depleted of MPs had lower capacity to provoke amylase secretion and STAT-3 phosphorylation in acinar cells. Taurocholate-induced NETs formation, inflammation and tissue damage in the pancreas were decreased in IP6K1-deficient mice. Thrombin stimulation of mixtures of wild-type platelets and neutrophils resulted in NETs formation but not when IP6K1-deficient platelets were incubated with wild-type neutrophils. Polyphosphate rescue restored thrombin-induced NET formation in mixtures of IP6K1-deficient platelets and wild-type neutrophils. Platelet IP6K1 regulates NET-MP complex formation in the pancreas of mice during induction of AP. Targeting platelet IP6K1 might useful to decrease NET-dependent pancreatic tissue inflammation and tissue injury in patients with AP.
Raed Madhi, Milladur Rahman, Dler Taha, Johan Linders, Mohammed Merza, Yongzhi Wang, Matthias Mörgelin, Henrik Thorlacius
BACKGROUND Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is an effective treatment for recurrent Clostridioides difficile infection (rCDI) in adults and children, but donor stool samples are currently screened for only a limited number of potential pathogens. We sought to determine whether putative procarcinogenic bacteria (enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis, Fusobacterium nucleatum, and Escherichia coli harboring the colibactin toxin) could be durably transmitted from donors to patients during FMT.METHODS Stool samples were collected from 11 pediatric rCDI patients and their respective FMT donors prior to FMT as well as from the patients at 2–10 weeks, 10–20 weeks, and 6 months after FMT. Bacterial virulence factors in stool DNA extracts and stool cultures were measured by quantitative PCR: Bacteroides fragilis toxin (bft), Fusobacterium adhesin A (fadA), and Escherichia coli colibactin (clbB).RESULTS Four of 11 patients demonstrated sustained acquisition of a procarcinogenic bacteria. Whole genome sequencing was performed on colony isolates from one of these donor/recipient pairs and demonstrated that clbB+ E. coli strains present in the recipient after FMT were identical to a strain present in the donor, confirming strain transmission. Conversely, 2 patients exhibited clearance of procarcinogenic bacteria following FMT from a negative donor.CONCLUSION Both durable transmission and clearance of procarcinogenic bacteria occurred following FMT, suggesting that additional studies on appropriate screening measures for FMT donors and the long-term consequences and/or benefits of FMT are warranted.FUNDING Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the National Cancer Institute, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Julia L. Drewes, Alina Corona, Uriel Sanchez, Yunfan Fan, Suchitra K. Hourigan, Melissa Weidner, Sarah D. Sidhu, Patricia J. Simner, Hao Wang, Winston Timp, Maria Oliva-Hemker, Cynthia L. Sears
Itch induces scratching that removes irritants from the skin, whereas pain initiates withdrawal or avoidance of tissue damage. Whilst pain arises from both the skin and viscera, we investigated whether pruritogenic irritant mechanisms also function within visceral pathways. We show that subsets of colon-innervating sensory neurons in mice express, either individually or in combination, the pruritogenic receptors Tgr5 and the Mas-gene-related G protein-coupled receptors, Mrgpra3 and Mrgpra11. Agonists of these receptors activated subsets of colonic sensory neurons and evoked colonic afferent mechanical hypersensitivity via a TRPA1-dependent mechanism. In vivo intra-colonic administration of individual TGR5, MRGPRA3, or MRGPRC11 agonists induced pronounced visceral hypersensitivity to colorectal distension. Co-administration of these agonists as an ‘itch cocktail’ augmented hypersensitivity to colorectal distension and changed mouse behaviour. These irritant mechanisms were maintained and enhanced in a model of chronic visceral hypersensitivity relevant to irritable bowel syndrome. Neurons from human dorsal root ganglia also expressed TGR5 as well as the human ortholog MRGPRX1 and showed increased responsiveness to pruritogenic agonists in pathological states. These data support the existence of an irritant-sensing system in the colon that is a visceral representation of the itch pathways found in skin, thereby contributing to sensory disturbances accompanying common intestinal disorders.
Joel Castro, Andrea M. Harrington, TinaMarie Lieu, Sonia Garcia-Caraballo, Jessica Maddern, Gudrun Schober, Tracey O'Donnell, Luke Grundy, Amanda L. Lumsden, Paul E. Miller, Andre Ghetti, Martin S. Steinhoff, Daniel P. Poole, Xinzhong Dong, Lin Chang, Nigel W. Bunnett, Stuart M. Brierley
Research shows that rats and humans on a high-fat diet (HFD) are less sensitive to satiety signals known to act via vagal afferent pathways. We hypothesize that HFD causes an upregulation of 2-pore domain potassium channels, resulting in hyperpolarization of nodose ganglia (NG) and decreased vagal response to satiety signals, which contribute to hyperphagia. We show that a 2-week HFD caused an upregulation of 2-pore domain TWIK-related spinal cord K+ (TRESK) and TWIK-related acid-sensitive K+ 1 (TASK1) channels by 330% ± 50% and 60% ± 20%, respectively, in NG. Patch-clamp studies of isolated NG neurons demonstrated a decrease in excitability. In vivo single-unit NG recordings showed that a 2-week HFD led to a 55% reduction in firing frequency in response to CCK-8 or leptin stimulation. NG electroporation with TRESK siRNA restored NG responsiveness to CCK-8 and leptin. Rats fed a 2-week HFD consumed ~40% more calories compared with controls. Silencing NG TRESK but not TASK1 channel expression in HFD-fed rats restored normal calorie consumption. In conclusion, HFD caused upregulation of TRESK channels, resulting in NG hyperpolarization and decreased vagal responsiveness to satiety signals. This finding provides a pharmacological target to prevent or treat HFD-induced hyperphagia.
Gintautas Grabauskas, Xiaoyin Wu, ShiYi Zhou, JiYao Li, Jun Gao, Chung Owyang
Aberrant accumulation and activation of eosinophils and potentially mast cells (MCs) contribute to the pathogenesis of eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases (EGIDs), including eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), gastritis (EG), and gastroenteritis (EGE). Current treatment options such as diet restriction and corticosteroids have limited efficacy and are often inappropriate for chronic use. One promising new approach is to deplete eosinophils and inhibit MCs with a monoclonal antibody (mAb) against Siglec-8, an inhibitory receptor selectively expressed on MCs and eosinophils. Here, we characterize MCs and eosinophils from human EG and EoE biopsies using flow cytometry and evaluate the effects of an anti-Siglec-8 mAb using a novel Siglec-8 transgenic mouse model in which EG/EGE was induced by ovalbumin sensitization and intragastric challenge. Mast cells and eosinophils were significantly increased and activated in human EG and EoE biopsies compared to healthy controls. Similar observations were made in EG/EGE mice. In Siglec-8 transgenic mice, anti-Siglec-8 mAb administration significantly reduced eosinophils and MCs in the stomach, small intestine, and mesenteric lymph nodes, and decreased levels of inflammatory mediators. In summary, these findings suggest a role for both MCs and eosinophils in EGID pathogenesis and support the evaluation of anti-Siglec-8 as a therapeutic approach that targets both eosinophils and MCs.
Bradford A. Youngblood, Emily C. Brock, John Leung, Rustom Falahati, Bruce S. Bochner, Henrik S. Rasmussen, Kathryn Peterson, Christopher Bebbington, Nenad Tomasevic
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) requires mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) to fuel its growth, however, broadly inhibiting this pathway might also disrupt essential mitochondrial functions in normal tissues. PDAC cells exhibit abnormally fragmented mitochondria that are essential to its oncogenicity, but it was unclear if this mitochondrial feature was a valid therapeutic target. Here, we present evidence that normalizing the fragmented mitochondria of pancreatic cancer via the process of mitochondrial fusion reduces OXPHOS, which correlates with suppressed tumor growth and improved survival in preclinical models. Mitochondrial fusion was achieved by genetic or pharmacologic inhibition of dynamin related protein-1 (Drp1) or through overexpression of mitofusin-2 (Mfn2). Notably, we found that oral leflunomide, an FDA-approved arthritis drug, promoted a two-fold increase in Mfn2 expression in tumors and was repurposed as a chemotherapeutic agent, improving the median survival of mice with spontaneous tumors by 50% compared to vehicle. We found that the chief tumor suppressive mechanism of mitochondrial fusion was enhanced mitophagy, which proportionally reduced mitochondrial mass and ATP production. These data suggest that mitochondrial fusion is a specific and druggable regulator of pancreatic cancer growth that could be rapidly translated to the clinic.
Meifang Yu, Nicholas D. Nguyen, Yanqing Huang, Daniel Lin, Tara N. Fujimoto, Jessica M. Molkentine, Amit Deorukhkar, Ya'an Kang, F. Anthony San Lucas, Conrad J. Fernandes, Eugene J. Koay, Sonal Gupta, Haoqiang Ying, Albert C. Koong, Joseph M. Herman, Jason B. Fleming, Anirban Maitra, Cullen M. Taniguchi
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is a major cause of cancer-related death with limited therapeutic options available. This highlights the need for improved understanding of the biology of PDA progression, a highly complex and dynamic process featuring changes in cancer cells and stromal cells. A comprehensive characterization of PDA cancer cell and stromal cell heterogeneity during disease progression is lacking. In this study, we aimed to profile cell populations and understand their phenotypic changes during PDA progression. To that end, we employed single-cell RNA sequencing technology to agnostically profile cell heterogeneity during different stages of PDA progression in genetically engineered mouse models. Our data indicate that an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition of cancer cells accompanies tumor progression in addition to distinct populations of macrophages with increasing inflammatory features. We also noted the existence of three distinct molecular subtypes of fibroblasts in the normal mouse pancreas, which ultimately gave rise to two distinct populations of fibroblasts in advanced PDA, supporting recent reports on intratumoral fibroblast heterogeneity. Our data also suggest that cancer cells and fibroblasts may be dynamically regulated by epigenetic mechanisms. This study systematically describes the landscape of cellular heterogeneity during the progression of PDA and has the potential to act as a resource in the development of therapeutic strategies against specific cell populations of the disease.
Abdel Nasser Hosein, Huocong Huang, Zhaoning Wang, Kamalpreet Parmar, Wenting Du, Jonathan Huang, Anirban Maitra, Eric Olson, Udit Verma, Rolf A. Brekken
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most frequent neoplastic disorder and is a main cause of tumor-related mortality as many patients progress to stage IV metastatic CRC. Standard care consists of combination chemotherapy (FOLFIRI or FOLFOX). Patients with WT KRAS typing are eligible to receive anti-EGFR therapy combined with chemotherapy. Unfortunately, predicting efficacy of CRC anti-EGFR therapy has remained challenging. Here we uncover that the EGFR-pathway component RasGRP1 acts as CRC tumor suppressor in the context of aberrant Wnt signaling. We find that RasGRP1 suppresses EGF-driven proliferation of colonic epithelial organoids. Having established that RasGRP1 dosage levels impacts biology, we focused on CRC patients next. Mining five different data platforms, we establish that RasGRP1 expression levels decrease with CRC progression and predict poor clinical outcome of patients. Lastly, deletion of one or two Rasgrp1 alleles makes CRC spheroids more susceptible to EGFR inhibition. Retrospective analysis of the CALGB80203 clinical trial shows that addition of anti-EGFR therapy to chemotherapy significantly improves outcome for CRC patients when tumors express low RasGRP1 suppressor levels. In sum, RasGRP1 is a unique biomarker positioned in the EGFR pathway and of potential relevance to anti-EGFR therapy for CRC patients.
Oghenekevwe M. Gbenedio, Caroline Bonnans, Delphine Grun, Chih-Yang Wang, Ace J. Hatch, Michelle R. Mahoney, David Barras, Mary Matli, Yi Miao, K. Christopher Garcia, Sabine Tejpar, Mauro Delorenzi, Alan P. Venook, Andrew B. Nixon, Robert S. Warren, Jeroen P. Roose, Philippe Depeille
Genetic susceptibility to chronic pancreatitis in humans is frequently associated with mutations that increase activation of the digestive protease trypsin. Intrapancreatic trypsin activation is an early event in experimental acute pancreatitis in rodents, suggesting that trypsin is a key driver of pathology. In contrast to trypsin, the pancreatic protease chymotrypsin serves a protective function by mitigating trypsin activation through degradation. In humans, loss-of-function mutations in chymotrypsin C (CTRC) are common risk factors for chronic pancreatitis; however, the pathogenic effect of CTRC deficiency has not been corroborated in animal models yet. Here we report that C57BL/6 mice that are widely used for genetic manipulations do not express functional CTRC due to a single-nucleotide deletion in exon 2 of the Ctrc gene. We restored a functional Ctrc locus in C57BL/6N mice and demonstrated that in the novel Ctrc+ strain the severity of cerulein-induced experimental acute and chronic pancreatitis was significantly ameliorated. Improved disease parameters were associated with reduced intrapancreatic trypsin activation suggesting a causal link between CTRC-mediated trypsinogen degradation and protection against pancreatitis. Taken together with prior human genetic and biochemical studies, the observations provide conclusive evidence for the protective role of CTRC against pancreatitis.
Andrea Geisz, Zsanett Jancsó, Balázs Csaba Németh, Eszter Hegyi, Miklós Sahin-Tóth
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