BACKGROUND. Topical calcipotriol plus 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) combination is an effective immunotherapy against actinic keratosis (AK), which is a precursor to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). However, the long-term effectiveness of calcipotriol plus 5-FU treatment for SCC prevention is unknown. METHODS. We performed a blinded prospective cohort study on participants of a randomized double-blind clinical trial in which a 4-day course of topical calcipotriol plus 5-FU combination was compared to Vaseline plus 5-FU (control) for AK treatment. SCC and basal cell carcinoma (BCC) incidences were assessed at 1, 2, and 3 years after trial. Tissues were analyzed for calcipotriol plus 5-FU–induced T cell immunity in the skin. RESULTS. Calcipotriol plus 5-FU–induced tissue-resident memory T (Trm) cell formation in face and scalp skin associated with significantly higher erythema scores compared with control (P < 0.01). Importantly, more participants in the test cohort remained SCC-free over the more than 1,500-day follow-up period (P = 0.0765), and significantly fewer developed SCC on the treated face and scalp within 3 years (2 of 30 [7%] versus 11 of 40 [28%] in control group, hazard ratio 0.215 [95% CI: 0.048–0.972], P = 0.032). Accordingly, significantly more epidermal Trm cells persisted in the calcipotriol plus 5-FU–treated face and scalp skin compared with control (P = 0.0028). There was no significant difference in BCC incidence between the treatment groups. CONCLUSION. A short course of calcipotriol plus 5-FU treatment on the face and scalp is associated with induction of robust T cell immunity and Trm formation against AKs and significantly lowers the risk of SCC development within 3 years of treatment. FUNDING. This research was supported by internal academic funds and by grants from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Sidney Kimmel Foundation, Cancer Research Institute, and NIH.
Abby R. Rosenberg, Mary Tabacchi, Kenneth H. Ngo, Michael Wallendorf, Ilana S. Rosman, Lynn A. Cornelius, Shadmehr Demehri
AXL overexpression is a common resistance mechanism to anti-cancer therapies, including the resistance to BYL719 (Alpelisib) – the p110α isoform specific inhibitor of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) – in esophagus and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC, HNSCC respectively). However, the mechanisms underlying AXL overexpression in resistance to BYL719 remain elusive. Here we demonstrated that the AP-1 transcription factors, c-JUN and c-FOS, regulate AXL overexpression in HNSCC and ESCC. The expression of AXL was correlated with that of c-JUN both in HNSCC patients and in HNSCC and ESCC cell lines. Silencing of c-JUN and c-FOS expression in tumor cells downregulated AXL expression and enhanced the sensitivity of human papilloma virus positive (HPVPos) and negative (HPVNeg) tumor cells to BYL719 in vitro. Blocking of the c-JUN N-terminal kinase (JNK) using SP600125 in combination with BYL719 showed a synergistic anti-proliferative effect in vitro, which was accompanied by AXL downregulation and potent inhibition of the mTOR pathway. In vivo, the BYL719–SP600125 drug combination led to the arrest of tumor growth in cell line-derived and patient-derived xenograft models, and in syngeneic head and neck murine cancer models. Collectively, our data suggests that JNK inhibition in combination with anti-PI3K therapy is a new therapeutic strategy that should be tested in HPVPos and HPVNeg HNSCC and ESCC patients.
Mai Badarni, Manu Prasad, Noa Balaban, Jonathan Zorea, Ksenia M. Yegodayev, Ben-Zion Joshua, Anat Bahat Dinur, Reidar Grénman, Barak Rotblat, Limor Cohen, Moshe Elkabets
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of cancer cells needs to adapt to the enhanced proteotoxic stress associated with the accumulation of unfolded, misfolded and transformation-associated proteins. One way by which tumors thrive in the context of ER stress is by promoting ER-Associated Degradation (ERAD), although the mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we show that the Small p97/VCP Interacting Protein (SVIP), an endogenous inhibitor of ERAD, undergoes DNA hypermethylation-associated silencing in tumorigenesis to achieve this goal. SVIP exhibits tumor suppressor features and its recovery is associated with increased ER stress and growth inhibition. Proteomic and metabolomic analyses show that cancer cells with epigenetic loss of SVIP are depleted in mitochondrial enzymes and oxidative respiration activity. This phenotype is reverted upon SVIP restoration. The dependence of SVIP hypermethylated cancer cells on aerobic glycolysis and glucose was also associated with sensitivity to an inhibitor of the glucose transporter GLUT1. This could be relevant to the management of tumors carrying SVIP epigenetic loss, because these occur in high-risk patients who manifest poor clinical outcomes. Overall, our study provides insights into how epigenetics helps deal with ER stress and how SVIP epigenetic loss in cancer may be amenable to therapies that target glucose transporters.
Pere Llinàs-Arias, Margalida Rosselló-Tortella, Paula Lopez-Serra, Montserrat Pérez-Salvia, Fernando Setién, Silvia Marin, Juan P. Muñoz, Alexandra Junza, Jordi Capellades, Maria E. Calleja-Cervantes, Humberto J. Ferreira, Manuel Castro de Moura, Marina Srbic, Anna Martínez-Cardús, Carolina de la Torre, Alberto Villanueva, Marta Cascante, Oscar Yanes, Antonio Zorzano, Catia Moutinho, Manel Esteller
In clinical breast cancer intervention, selection of the optimal treatment protocol based on predictive biomarkers remains an elusive goal. Here, we present a modeling tool to predict the likelihood of breast cancer response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy using patient specific tumor vasculature biomarkers. A semi-automated analysis was implemented and performed on 3990 histological images from 48 patients, with 10–208 images analyzed for each patient. We applied a histology-based model to resected primary breast cancer tumors (n = 30), and then evaluated a cohort of patients (n = 18) undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy, collecting pre- and post-treatment pathology specimens and MRI data. We found that core biopsy samples can be used with acceptable accuracy (r = 0.76) to determine histological parameters representative of the whole tissue region. Analysis of model histology parameters obtained from tumor vasculature measurements, specifically diffusion distance divided by radius of drug source (L/rb) and blood volume fraction (BVF), provides a statistically significant separation of patients obtaining a pathologic complete response (pCR) from those that do not (Student’s t-test; P < 0.05). With this model, it is feasible to evaluate primary breast tumor vasculature biomarkers in a patient specific manner, thereby allowing a precision approach to breast cancer treatment.
Terisse A. Brocato, Ursa Brown-Glaberman, Zhihui Wang, Reed G. Selwyn, Colin M. Wilson, Edward F. Wyckoff, Lesley C. Lomo, Jennifer L. Saline, Anupama Hooda-Nehra, Renata Pasqualini, Wadih Arap, C. Jeffrey Brinker, Vittorio Cristini
Anthracyclines are amongst the most effective chemotherapeutics ever developed, but they produce grueling side-effects, serious adverse events and resistance often develops over time. We found that these compounds can be sequestered by secreted cellular Prion protein (PrPC), blocking their cytotoxic activity. This effect was dose-dependent using either cell line-conditioned medium or human serum as a source of PrPC. Genetic depletion of PrPC or inhibition of binding via chelation of ionic copper prevented the interaction and restored cytotoxic activity. This was more pronounced for doxorubicin than its epimer, epirubicin. Investigating the relevance to breast cancer management, we found that the levels of PRNP transcript in pre-treatment tumor biopsies stratified relapse-free survival after neoadjuvant treatment with anthracyclines, particularly amongst doxorubicin-treated patients with residual disease at surgery (p=2.8E-08). These data suggest that local sequestration could mediate treatment resistance. Consistent with this, tumor cell expression of PrPC protein correlated with poorer response to doxorubicin but not epirubicin in an independent cohort analyzed by immunohistochemistry, particularly soluble isoforms released into the extracellular environment by shedding (p=0.015). These findings have important potential clinical implications for frontline regimen decision-making. We suggest there is warranted utility for prognostic PrPC/PRNP assays to guide chemo-sensitization strategies that exploit an understanding of PrPC-anthracycline-copper ion complexes.
Adrian P. Wiegmans, Jodi M. Saunus, Sunyoung Ham, Richard J. Lobb, Jamie R. Kutasovic, Andrew J. Dalley, Mariska Miranda, Caroline Atkinson, Simote T. Foliaki, Kaltin Ferguson, Colleen Niland, Cameron N. Johnstone, Victoria Lewis, Steven Collins, Sunil R. Lakhani, Fares Al-Ejeh, Andreas Möller
Dormant cancer cells known as disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) are often present in bone marrow of breast cancer patients. These DTCs are thought to be responsible for the incurable recurrence of breast cancer. The mechanism underlying the long-term maintenance of DTCs remains unclear, however. Here, we show that Fbxw7 is essential for the maintenance of breast cancer dormancy. Genetic ablation of Fbxw7 in breast cancer cells disrupted the quiescence of DTCs, rendering them proliferative, in mouse xenograft and allograft models. Fbxw7-deficient DTCs were significantly depleted by treatment with paclitaxel, suggesting that cell proliferation induced by Fbxw7 ablation sensitized DTCs to chemotherapy. The combination of Fbxw7 ablation and chemotherapy reduced the number of DTCs even when applied after tumor cell dissemination. Mice injected with Fbxw7-deficient cancer cells survived longer after tumor resection and subsequent chemotherapy than did those injected with wild-type cells. Furthermore, database analysis revealed that breast cancer patients whose tumors expressed FBXW7 at a high level had a poorer prognosis than did those with a low FBXW7 expression level. Our results suggest that a wake-up strategy for DTCs based on Fbxw7 inhibition might be of value in combination with conventional chemotherapy for the treatment of breast cancer.
Hideyuki Shimizu, Shoichiro Takeishi, Hirokazu Nakatsumi, Keiichi I. Nakayama
Although tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have demonstrated significant efficacy in advanced lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) patients with pathogenic alterations in EGFR, most patients develop acquired resistance to these agents via mechanisms enabling the sustained activation of the PI3K and MAPK oncogenic pathways downstream of EGFR. The tumor suppressor protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) acts as a negative regulator of these pathways. We hypothesize that activation of PP2A simultaneously inhibits the PI3K and MAPK pathways and represents a promising therapeutic strategy for the treatment of TKI-resistant LUAD. After establishing the efficacy of small molecule activators of PP2A (SMAPs) in a transgenic EGFRL858R model and TKI-sensitive cell lines, we evaluated their therapeutic potential in vitro and in vivo in TKI-resistant models. PP2A activation resulted in apoptosis, significant tumor growth inhibition, and downregulation of PI3K and MAPK pathways. Combination of SMAPs and TKI afatinib resulted in an enhanced effect on the downregulation of the PI3K pathway via degradation of the PP2A endogenous inhibitor CIP2A. An improved effect on tumor growth inhibition was observed in a TKI-resistant xenograft mouse model treated with a combination of both agents. These collective data support the development of PP2A activators for the treatment of TKI-resistant LUAD.
Rita Tohmé, Sudeh Izadmehr, Sai Gandhe, Giancarlo Tabaro, Sanjay Vallabhaneni, Ava Thomas, Neal Vasireddi, Neil S. Dhawan, Avi Ma’ayan, Neelesh Sharma, Matthew D. Galsky, Michael Ohlmeyer, Jaya Sangodkar, Goutham Narla
Immunotherapy has emerged as a promising approach to treat cancer. However, partial responses across multiple clinical trials support the significance of characterizing intertumor and intratumor heterogeneity to achieve better clinical results and as potential tools in selecting patients for different types of cancer immunotherapies. Yet, the type of heterogeneity that informs clinical outcome and patient selection has not been fully explored. In particular, the lack of characterization of immune response–related genes in cancer cells hinders the further development of metrics to select and optimize immunotherapy. Therefore, we analyzed single-cell RNA-Seq data from lung adenocarcinoma patients and cell lines to characterize the intratumor heterogeneity of immune response–related genes and demonstrated their potential impact on the efficacy of immunotherapy. We discovered that IFN-γ signaling pathway genes are heterogeneously expressed and coregulated with other genes in single cancer cells, including MHC class II (MHCII) genes. The downregulation of genes in IFN-γ signaling pathways in cell lines corresponds to an acquired resistance phenotype. Moreover, analysis of 2 groups of tumor-restricted antigens, namely neoantigens and cancer testis antigens, revealed heterogeneity in their expression in single cells. These analyses provide a rationale for applying multiantigen combinatorial therapies to prevent tumor escape and establish a basis for future development of prognostic metrics based on intratumor heterogeneity.
Ke-Yue Ma, Alexandra A. Schonnesen, Amy Brock, Carla Van Den Berg, S. Gail Eckhardt, Zhihua Liu, Ning Jiang
Glioblastoma represent universally lethal cancers, containing stem cell-like glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs). While neural stem cells (NSCs) are usually quiescent, single-cell studies suggest that proliferating glioblastoma cells reside in the GSC population. Interrogating in silico glioma databases for epigenetic regulators that correlate with cell cycle regulation, we identified the chromatin remodeler, HELLS, as a potential target in glioblastoma. GSCs preferentially expressed HELLS compared to their differentiated tumor progeny and non-malignant brain cells. Targeting HELLS disrupted GSC proliferation, survival, and self-renewal with induction of replication stress and DNA damage. Investigating potential molecular mechanisms downstream of HELLS revealed that HELLS interacted with the core oncogenic transcription factors, E2F3 and MYC, to regulate gene expression critical to GSC proliferation and maintenance. Supporting the interaction, HELLS expression strongly correlated with targets of E2F3 and MYC transcriptional activity in glioblastoma patients. Potential clinical significance of HELLS was reinforced by improved survival of tumor-bearing mice upon targeting HELLS and poor prognosis of glioma patients with elevated HELLS expression. Collectively, targeting HELLS may permit the functional disruption of the relatively undruggable MYC and E2F3 transcription factors and serve as a novel therapeutic paradigm for glioblastoma.
Guoxin Zhang, Zhen Dong, Briana C. Prager, Leo J. Y. Kim, Qiulian Wu, Ryan C. Gimple, Xiuxing Wang, Shideng Bao, Petra Hamerlik, Jeremy N. Rich
Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) often presents with metastases and ascites. Granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells are an immature population that impairs anti-tumor immunity. Since suppressive granulocytes in the ascites of patients with newly diagnosed EOC were morphologically mature, we hypothesized that PMN were rendered suppressive in the tumor microenvironment. Circulating PMN from patients were not suppressive, but acquired a suppressor phenotype (defined as ≥ 1 log10 reduction of anti-CD3/CD28-stimulated T cell proliferation) after ascites supernatant exposure. Ascites supernatants (20/31) recapitulated the suppressor phenotype in PMN from healthy donors. T cell proliferation was restored with ascites supernatant removal and re-stimulation. PMN suppressors also inhibited T cell activation and cytokine production. PMN suppressors completely suppressed proliferation in naïve, central memory, and effector memory T cells, and in engineered tumor antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes, while antigen-specific cell lysis was unaffected. Inhibition of complement C3 activation and PMN effector functions, including CR3 signaling, protein synthesis, and vesicular trafficking, abrogated the PMN suppressor phenotype. Moreover, malignant effusions from patients with various metastatic cancers also induced the C3-dependent PMN suppressor phenotype. These results point to PMN impairing T cell expansion and activation in the tumor microenvironment and the potential for complement inhibition to abrogate this barrier to anti-tumor immunity.
Kelly L. Singel, Tiffany R. Emmons, ANM Nazmul H. Khan, Paul C. Mayor, Shichen Shen, Jerry T. Wong, Kayla Morrell, Kevin H. Eng, Jaron Mark, Richard B. Bankert, Junko Matsuzaki, Richard C. Koya, Anna M. Blom, Kenneth R. McLeish, Jun Qu, Sanjay Ram, Kirsten B. Moysich, Scott I. Abrams, Kunle Odunsi, Emese Zsiros, Brahm H. Segal
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