Evofosfamide (TH-302) is a clinical-stage hypoxia-activated prodrug of a DNA-crosslinking nitrogen mustard that has potential utility for human papillomavirus (HPV) negative head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), in which tumor hypoxia limits treatment outcome. We report the preclinical efficacy, target engagement, preliminary predictive biomarkers and initial clinical activity of evofosfamide for HPV-negative HNSCC. Evofosfamide was assessed in 22 genomically characterized cell lines and 7 cell line–derived xenograft (CDX), patient-derived xenograft (PDX), orthotopic, and syngeneic tumor models. Biomarker analysis used RNA sequencing, whole-exome sequencing, and whole-genome CRISPR knockout screens. Five advanced/metastatic HNSCC patients received evofosfamide monotherapy (480 mg/m2 qw × 3 each month) in a phase 2 study. Evofosfamide was potent and highly selective for hypoxic HNSCC cells. Proliferative rate was a predominant evofosfamide sensitivity determinant and a proliferation metagene correlated with activity in CDX models. Evofosfamide showed efficacy as monotherapy and with radiotherapy in PDX models, augmented CTLA-4 blockade in syngeneic tumors, and reduced hypoxia in nodes disseminated from an orthotopic model. Of 5 advanced HNSCC patients treated with evofosfamide, 2 showed partial responses while 3 had stable disease. In conclusion, evofosfamide shows promising efficacy in aggressive HPV-negative HNSCC, with predictive biomarkers in development to support further clinical evaluation in this indication.
Stephen M.F. Jamieson, Peter Tsai, Maria K. Kondratyev, Pratha Budhani, Arthur Liu, Neil N. Senzer, E. Gabriela Chiorean, Shadia I. Jalal, John J. Nemunaitis, Dennis Kee, Avik Shome, Way W. Wong, Dan Li, Nooriyah Poonawala-Lohani, Purvi M. Kakadia, Nicholas S. Knowlton, Courtney R.H. Lynch, Cho R. Hong, Tet Woo Lee, Reidar A. Grénman, Laura Caporiccio, Trevor D. McKee, Mark Zaidi, Sehrish Butt, Andrew M.J. Macann, Nicholas P. McIvor, John M. Chaplin, Kevin O. Hicks, Stefan K. Bohlander, Bradly G. Wouters, Charles P. Hart, Cristin G. Print, William R. Wilson, Michael A. Curran, Francis W. Hunter
BACKGROUND. There is currently no clinical distinction between different TP53 mutations, despite increasing evidence that not all mutations have equally deleterious effects on the activity of the encoded tumor suppressor protein p53. The objective of this study was to determine whether these biological differences have clinical significance. METHODS. This retrospective cohort analysis included 2,074 patients with sporadic TP53 mutations (403 unique mutations) and 1,049 germline TP53 mutation carriers (188 unique mutations). Survival was projected by stratifying patients according to their p53 mutant–specific residual transcriptional activity scores. RESULTS. Pan-cancer survival analyses revealed a strong association between increased mutant p53 residual activity and improved survival in males with glioma and gastric adenocarcinoma (P = 0.002 and P = 0.02) that was not present in the female cohorts (P = 0.16 and P = 0.50). Male glioma and gastric cancer patients with TP53 mutations resulting in >5% transcriptional activity had 3.1-fold (95% CI, 2.4–3.8; P = 0.002; multivariate analysis hazard ratio [HR]) and 4.6-fold (95% CI, 3.7–5.6; P = 0.001; multivariate analysis HR) lower risk of death as compared with patients harboring inactive (0% activity) p53 mutants. The correlation between mutant p53 residual activity with survival was recapitulated in the dataset of germline TP53 mutation carriers (HR = 3.0, 95% CI, 2.7–3.4, P < 0.001 [females]; HR = 2.2, 95% CI, 1.8–2.6, P < 0.001 [males]), where brain and gastric tumors were more common among males (P < 0.001 and P = 0.001, respectively). CONCLUSION. The retention of mutant p53 transcriptional activity prognosticates superior survival for men with glioma and gastric adenocarcinoma harboring sporadic TP53 mutations. Among germline TP53 mutation carriers, increased residual transcriptional activity is correlated with prolonged lifetime cancer survival and delayed tumor onset, and males are more prone to develop brain and gastric tumors. FUNDING. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (no. 148556).
Nicholas W. Fischer, Aaron Prodeus, Jean Gariépy
With more than 150,000 deaths per year in the US alone, lung cancer has the highest number of deaths for any cancer. These poor outcomes reflect a lack of treatment for the most common form of lung cancer, non–small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). Lung adenocarcinoma (ADC) is the most prevalent subtype of NSCLC, with the main oncogenic drivers being KRAS and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Whereas EGFR blockade has led to some success in lung ADC, effective KRAS inhibition is lacking. KRAS-mutant ADCs are characterized by high levels of gel-forming mucin expression, with the highest mucin levels corresponding to worse prognoses. Despite these well-recognized associations, little is known about roles for individual gel-forming mucins in ADC development causatively. We hypothesized that MUC5AC/Muc5ac, a mucin gene known to be commonly expressed in NSCLC, is crucial in KRAS/Kras-driven lung ADC. We found that MUC5AC was a significant determinant of poor prognosis, especially in patients with KRAS-mutant tumors. In addition, by using mice with lung ADC induced chemically with urethane or transgenically by mutant-Kras expression, we observed significantly reduced tumor development in animals lacking Muc5ac compared with controls. Collectively, these results provide strong support for MUC5AC as a potential therapeutic target for lung ADC, a disease with few effective treatments.
Alison K. Bauer, Misha Umer, Vanessa L. Richardson, Amber M. Cumpian, Anna Q. Harder, Nasim Khosravi, Zoulikha Azzegagh, Naoko M. Hara, Camille Ehre, Maedeh Mohebnasab, Mauricio S. Caetano, Daniel T. Merrick, Adrie van Bokhoven, Ignacio I. Wistuba, Humam Kadara, Burton F. Dickey, Kalpana Velmurugan, Patrick R. Mann, Xian Lu, Anna E. Barón, Christopher M. Evans, Seyed Javad Moghaddam
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients with NPM1 mutations demonstrate a superior response to standard chemotherapy treatment. Our previous work has shown that these favorable outcomes are linked to the cytoplasmic relocalization and inactivation of FOXM1 driven by mutated NPM1. Here, we went on to confirm the important role of FOXM1 in increased chemoresistance in AML. A multiinstitution retrospective study was conducted to link FOXM1 expression to clinical outcomes in AML. We establish nuclear FOXM1 as an independent clinical predictor of chemotherapeutic resistance in intermediate-risk AML in a multivariate analysis incorporating standard clinicopathologic risk factors. Using colony assays, we show a dramatic decrease in colony size and numbers in AML cell lines with knockdown of FOXM1, suggesting an important role for FOXM1 in the clonogenic activity of AML cells. In order to further prove a potential role for FOXM1 in AML chemoresistance, we induced an FLT3-ITD–driven myeloid neoplasm in a FOXM1-overexpressing transgenic mouse model and demonstrated significantly higher residual disease after standard chemotherapy. This suggests that constitutive overexpression of FOXM1 in this model induces chemoresistance. Finally, we performed proof-of-principle experiments using a currently approved proteasome inhibitor, ixazomib, to target FOXM1 and demonstrated a therapeutic response in AML patient samples and animal models of AML that correlates with the suppression of FOXM1 and its transcriptional targets. Addition of low doses of ixazomib increases sensitization of AML cells to chemotherapy backbone drugs cytarabine and the hypomethylator 5-azacitidine. Our results underscore the importance of FOXM1 in AML progression and treatment, and they suggest that targeting it may have therapeutic benefit in combination with standard AML therapies.
Irum Khan, Marianna Halasi, Anand Patel, Rachael Schultz, Nandini Kalakota, Yi-Hua Chen, Nathan Aardsma, Li Liu, John D. Crispino, Nadim Mahmud, Olga Frankfurt, Andrei L. Gartel
Cachexia syndrome consists of adipose and muscle loss, often despite normal food intake. We hypothesized that cachexia-associated adipose wasting is driven in part by tumor humoral factors that induce adipocyte lipolysis. We developed an assay to purify secreted factors from a cachexia-inducing colon cancer line that increases lipolysis in adipocytes and identified leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) by mass spectrometry. Recombinant LIF induced lipolysis in vitro. Peripheral LIF administered to mice caused >50% loss of adipose tissue and >10% reduction in body weight despite only transient hypophagia due to decreasing leptin. LIF-injected mice lacking leptin (ob/ob) resulted in persistent hypophagia and loss of adipose tissue and body weight. LIF’s peripheral role of initiating lipolysis in adipose loss was confirmed in pair-fed ob/ob mouse studies. Our studies demonstrate that (a) LIF is a tumor-secreted factor that promotes cachexia-like adipose loss when administered peripherally, (b) LIF directly induces adipocyte lipolysis, (c) LIF has the ability to sustain adipose and body weight loss through an equal combination of peripheral and central contributions, and (d) LIF’s central effect is counterbalanced by decreased leptin signaling, providing insight into cachexia’s wasting, despite normophagia.
Gurpreet K. Arora, Arun Gupta, Sriram Narayanan, Tong Guo, Puneeth Iyengar, Rodney E. Infante
Obesity increases breast cancer mortality by promoting resistance to therapy. Here, we identified regulatory pathways in estrogen receptor–positive (ER-positive) tumors that were shared between patients with obesity and those with resistance to neoadjuvant aromatase inhibition. Among these was fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR1), a known mediator of endocrine therapy resistance. In a preclinical model with patient-derived ER-positive tumors, diet-induced obesity promoted a similar gene expression signature and sustained the growth of FGFR1-overexpressing tumors after estrogen deprivation. Tumor FGFR1 phosphorylation was elevated with obesity and predicted a shorter disease-free and disease-specific survival for patients treated with tamoxifen. In both human and mouse mammary adipose tissue, FGF1 ligand expression was associated with metabolic dysfunction, weight gain, and adipocyte hypertrophy, implicating the impaired response to a positive energy balance in growth factor production within the tumor niche. In conjunction with these studies, we describe a potentially novel graft-competent model that can be used with patient-derived tissue to elucidate factors specific to extrinsic (host) and intrinsic (tumor) tissue that are critical for obesity-associated tumor promotion. Taken together, we demonstrate that obesity and excess energy establish a tumor environment with features of endocrine therapy resistance and identify a role for ligand-dependent FGFR1 signaling in obesity-associated breast cancer progression.
Elizabeth A. Wellberg, Peter Kabos, Austin E. Gillen, Britta M. Jacobsen, Heather M. Brechbuhl, Stevi J. Johnson, Michael C. Rudolph, Susan M. Edgerton, Ann D. Thor, Steven M. Anderson, Anthony Elias, Xi Kathy Zhou, Neil M. Iyengar, Monica Morrow, Domenick J. Falcone, Omar El-Hely, Andrew J. Dannenberg, Carol A. Sartorius, Paul S. MacLean
Resistance to current therapies still impacts a significant number of melanoma patients and can be regulated by epigenetic alterations. Analysis of global cytosine methylation in a cohort of primary melanomas revealed a pattern of early demethylation associated with overexpression of oncogenic transcripts. Loss of methylation and associated overexpression of the CSF 1 receptor (CSF1R) was seen in a majority of tumors and was driven by an alternative, endogenous viral promoter in a subset of samples. CSF1R was particularly elevated in melanomas with BRAF and other MAPK activating mutations. Furthermore, rebound ERK activation after BRAF inhibition was associated with RUNX1-mediated further upregulation of CSF-1R and its ligand IL-34. Importantly, increased CSF-1R and IL-34 overexpression were detected in an independent cohort of resistant melanomas. Inhibition of CSF-1R kinase or decreased CSF-1R expression by RNAi reduced 3-D growth and invasiveness of melanoma cells. Coinhibition of CSF-1R and BRAF resulted in synergistic efficacy in vivo. To our knowledge, our data unveil a previously unknown role for the autocrine-regulated CSF-1R in BRAF V600E resistance and provide a preclinical rationale for targeting this pathway in melanoma.
Orsi Giricz, Yongkai Mo, Kimberly B. Dahlman, Xiomaris M. Cotto-Rios, Chiara Vardabasso, Hoa Nguyen, Bernice Matusow, Matthias Bartenstein, Veronika Polishchuk, Douglas B. Johnson, Tushar D. Bhagat, Rafe Shellooe, Elizabeth Burton, James Tsai, Chao Zhang, Gaston Habets, John M. Greally, Yiting Yu, Paraic A. Kenny, Gregg B. Fields, Kith Pradhan, E. Richard Stanley, Emily Bernstein, Gideon Bollag, Evripidis Gavathiotis, Brian L. West, Jeffrey A. Sosman, Amit K. Verma
CD4+ Tregs impede T cell responses to tumors. They express multiple inhibitory receptors that support their suppressive functions, including T cell Ig and ITIM domain (TIGIT). In melanoma patients, we show that Tregs exhibit increased TIGIT expression and decreased expression of its competing costimulatory receptor CD226 as compared with CD4+ effector T cells, resulting in an increased TIGIT/CD226 ratio. Tregs failed to upregulate CD226 upon T cell activation. TIGIT+ Tregs are highly suppressive, stable, and enriched in tumors. TIGIT and CD226 oppose each other to augment or disrupt, respectively, Treg suppression and stability. A high TIGIT/CD226 ratio in Tregs correlates with increased Treg frequencies in tumors and poor clinical outcome upon immune checkpoint blockade. Altogether, our findings show that a high TIGIT/CD226 ratio in Tregs regulates their suppressive function and stability in melanoma. They provide the rationale for novel immunotherapies to activate CD226 in Tregs together with TIGIT blockade to counteract Treg suppression in cancer patients.
Julien Fourcade, Zhaojun Sun, Joe-Marc Chauvin, Mignane Ka, Diwakar Davar, Ornella Pagliano, Hong Wang, Sofiane Saada, Carmine Menna, Rada Amin, Cindy Sander, John M. Kirkwood, Alan J. Korman, Hassane M. Zarour
BACKGROUND. Human papillomavirus–related (HPV-related) oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OPSCCs) have an excellent response rate to platinum-based chemoradiotherapy. Genomic differences between primary HPV-related OPSCCs that do or do not recur are unknown. Furthermore, it is unclear if HPV-related OPSCCs that recur share a genomic landscape with HPV-negative head and neck cancers (HNCs). METHODS. We utilized whole exome sequencing to analyze somatic nucleotide (SNVs) and copy number variants (CNVs) among a unique set of 51 primary HPV-related OPSCCs, including 35 that did not recur and 16 that recurred. We evaluated 12 metachronous recurrent OPSCCs (7 with paired primary OPSCCs) and 33 primary HPV-unrelated oral cavity and OPSCCs. RESULTS.KMT2D was the most frequently mutated gene among primary HPV-related OPSCCs (n = 51; 14%) and among metachronous recurrent OPSCCs (n = 12; 42%). Primary HPV-related OPSCCs that recurred shared a genomic landscape with primary HPV-related OPSCCs that did not recur. However, TSC2, BRIP1, NBN, and NFE2L2 mutations occurred in primary OPSCCs that recurred but not in those that did not recur. Moreover, primary HPV-related OPSCCs that recur harbor features of HPV-unrelated HNCs, notably including MAPK, JAK/STAT, and differentiation signaling pathway aberrations. Metachronous recurrent OPSCCs shared a genomic landscape with HPV-unrelated HNCs, including a high frequency of TP53, CASP8, FAT1, HLA-A, AJUBA, and NSD1 genomic alterations. CONCLUSION. Overall, primary HPV-related OPSCCs that recur share a genomic landscape with nonrecurrent OPSCCs. Metachronous recurrent OPSCCs share genomic features with HPV-negative HNCs. These data aim to guide future deescalation endeavors and functional experiments. FUNDING. This study is supported by the American Cancer Society (RSG TBG-123653), funding support for RAH (T32DC00018, Research Training in Otolaryngology, University of Washington), funds to EM from Seattle Translational Tumor Research (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), and center funds from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to EM. UD is supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development (BLR&D), grant IO1-oo23456, and funds from the Pittsburgh Foundation and PNC Foundation.
R. Alex Harbison, Mark Kubik, Eric Q. Konnick, Qing Zhang, Seok-Geun Lee, Heuijoon Park, Jianan Zhang, Christopher S. Carlson, Chu Chen, Stephen M. Schwartz, Cristina P. Rodriguez, Umamaheswar Duvvuri, Eduardo Méndez
Success of immune checkpoint inhibitors in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has invigorated their use in the neoadjuvant setting for early-stage disease. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms of the early immune responses to therapy remain poorly understood. Through an integrated analysis of early-stage NSCLC patients and a Kras mutant mouse model, we show a prevalent programmed cell death 1/programmed cell death 1 ligand 1 (PD-1/PD-L1) axis exemplified by increased intratumoral PD-1+ T cells and PD-L1 expression. Notably, tumor progression was associated with spatiotemporal modulation of the immune microenvironment with dominant immunosuppressive phenotypes at later phases of tumor growth. Importantly, PD-1 inhibition controlled tumor growth, improved overall survival, and reprogrammed tumor-associated lymphoid and myeloid cells. Depletion of T lymphocyte subsets demonstrated synergistic effects of those populations on PD-1 inhibition of tumor growth. Transcriptome analyses revealed T cell subset–specific alterations corresponding to degree of response to the treatment. These results provide insights into temporal evolution of the phenotypic effects of PD-1/PD-L1 activation and inhibition and motivate targeting of this axis early in lung cancer progression.
Geoffrey J. Markowitz, Lauren S. Havel, Michael J.P. Crowley, Yi Ban, Sharrell B. Lee, Jennifer S. Thalappillil, Navneet Narula, Bhavneet Bhinder, Olivier Elemento, Stephen T.C. Wong, Dingcheng Gao, Nasser K. Altorki, Vivek Mittal
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