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
Oncolytic viruses induce local tumor destruction and inflammation. Whether virotherapy can also overcome immunosuppression in noninfected tumor areas is under debate. To address this question, we have explored immunologic effects of oncolytic herpes simplex viruses (oHSVs) in a genetically engineered mouse model of isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) wild-type glioblastoma, the most common and most malignant primary brain tumor in adults. Our model recapitulates the genomics, the diffuse infiltrative growth pattern, and the extensive macrophage-dominant immunosuppression of human glioblastoma. Infection with an oHSV that was armed with a UL16-binding protein 3 (ULBP3) expression cassette inhibited distant tumor growth in the absence of viral spreading (abscopal effect) and yielded accumulation of activated macrophages and T cells. There was also abscopal synergism of oHSVULBP3 with anti–programmed cell death 1 (anti–PD-1) against distant, uninfected tumor areas; albeit consistent with clinical trials in patients with glioblastoma, monotherapy with anti–PD-1 was ineffective in our model. Arming oHSV with ULBP3 led to upregulation of antigen processing and presentation gene sets in myeloid cells. The cognate ULBP3 receptor NKG2D, however, is not present on myeloid cells, suggesting a noncanonical mechanism of action of ULBP3. Overall, the myeloid-dominant, anti–PD-1–sensitive abscopal effect of oHSVULBP3 warrants further investigation in patients with IDH wild-type glioblastoma.
Hans-Georg Wirsching, Huajia Zhang, Frank Szulzewsky, Sonali Arora, Paola Grandi, Patrick J. Cimino, Nduka Amankulor, Jean S. Campbell, Lisa McFerrin, Siobhan S. Pattwell, Chibawanye Ene, Alexandra Hicks, Michael Ball, James Yan, Jenny Zhang, Debrah Kumasaka, Robert H. Pierce, Michael Weller, Mitchell Finer, Christophe Quéva, Joseph C. Glorioso, A. McGarry Houghton, Eric C. Holland
Inhibition of Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) is a breakthrough therapy for certain B cell lymphomas and B cell chronic lymphatic leukemia. Covalent BTK inhibitors (e.g., ibrutinib) bind to cysteine C481, and mutations of this residue confer clinical resistance. This has led to the development of noncovalent BTK inhibitors that do not require binding to cysteine C481. These new compounds are now entering clinical trials. In a systematic BTK mutagenesis screen, we identify residues that are critical for the activity of noncovalent inhibitors. These include a gatekeeper residue (T474) and mutations in the kinase domain. Strikingly, co-occurrence of gatekeeper and kinase domain lesions (L512M, E513G, F517L, L547P) in cis results in a 10- to 15-fold gain of BTK kinase activity and de novo transforming potential in vitro and in vivo. Computational BTK structure analyses reveal how these lesions disrupt an intramolecular mechanism that attenuates BTK activation. Our findings anticipate clinical resistance mechanisms to a new class of noncovalent BTK inhibitors and reveal intramolecular mechanisms that constrain BTK’s transforming potential.
Shenqiu Wang, Sayan Mondal, Chunying Zhao, Marjan Berishaj, Phani Ghanakota, Connie Lee Batlevi, Ahmet Dogan, Venkatraman E. Seshan, Robert Abel, Michael R. Green, Anas Younes, Hans-Guido Wendel
NK cell exhaustion (NCE) due to sustained proliferation results in impaired NK cell function with loss of cytokine production and lytic activity. Using murine models of chronic NK cell stimulation, we have identified a phenotypic signature of NCE characterized by up-regulation of the terminal differentiation marker KLRG1 and by down-regulation of eomesodermin and the activating receptor NKG2D. Chronic stimulation of mice lacking NKG2D resulted in minimized NCE compared to control mice, thus identifying NKG2D as a crucial mediator of NCE. NKG2D internalization and downregulations on NK cells has been previously observed in the presence of tumor cells with high expression of NKG2D ligands (NKG2DL) due to the activation of the DNA damage repair pathways. Interestingly, our study revealed that during NK cell activation there is an increase of MULT1, and NKG2DL, that correlates with an induction of DNA damage. Treatment with the ATM DNA damage repair pathway inhibitor KU55933 (KU) during activation reduced NCE by improving expression of activation markers and genes involved in cell survival, by sustaining NKG2D expression and by preserving cell functionality. Importantly, NK cells expanded ex vivo in the presence of KU displayed increased anti-tumor efficacy in both NKG2D-dependent and -independent mouse models. Collectively, these data demonstrate that NCE is caused by DNA damage and regulated, at least in part, by NKG2D. Further, the prevention of NCE is a promising strategy to improve NK cell-based immunotherapy.
Maite Alvarez, Federico Simonetta, Jeanette Baker, Antonio Pierini, Arielle S. Wenokur, Alyssa R. Morrison, William J. Murphy, Robert S. Negrin
Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) represent an easy, repeatable and representative access to information regarding solid tumors. However, their detection remains difficult because of their paucity, their short half-life, and the lack of reliable surface biomarkers. Flow cytometry (FC) is a fast, sensitive and affordable technique, ideal for rare cells detection. Adapted to CTCs detection (i.e. extremely rare cells), most FC-based techniques require a time-consuming pre-enrichment step, followed by a 2-hours staining procedure, impeding on the efficiency of CTCs detection. We overcame these caveats and reduced the procedure to less than one hour, with minimal manipulation. First, cells were simultaneously fixed, permeabilized, then stained. Second, using low-speed FC acquisition conditions and two discriminators (cell size and pan-cytokeratin expression), we suppressed the pre-enrichment step. Applied to blood from donors with or without known malignant diseases, this protocol ensures a high recovery of the cells of interest independently of their epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity and can predict which samples are derived from cancer donors. This proof-of-concept study lays the bases of a sensitive tool to detect CTCs from a small amount of blood upstream of in-depth analyses.
Alexia Lopresti, Fabrice Malergue, François Bertucci, Maria Lucia Liberatoscioli, Severine Garnier, Quentin DaCosta, Pascal Finetti, Marine Gilabert, Jean Luc Raoul, Daniel Birnbaum, Claire Acquaviva, Emilie Mamessier
Cellular senescence is a tumor suppressive mechanism that can paradoxically contribute to aging pathologies. Despite evidence of immune clearance in mouse models, it is not known how senescent cells (SnCs) persist and accumulate with age or in tumors in individuals. Here, we identify cooperative mechanisms that orchestrate the immunoevasion and persistence of normal and cancer human SnCs through extracellular targeting of natural killer receptor signaling. Damaged SnCs avoid immune recognition through MMPs-dependent shedding of NKG2D-ligands reinforced via paracrine suppression of NKG2D receptor-mediated immunosurveillance. These coordinated immunoediting processes are evident in residual, drug-resistant tumors from cohorts of >700 prostate and breast cancer patients treated with senescence-inducing genotoxic chemotherapies. Unlike in mice, these reversible senescence-subversion mechanisms are independent of p53/p16 and exacerbated in oncogenic RAS-induced senescence. Critically, the p16INK4A tumor suppressor can disengage the senescence growth arrest from the damage-associated immune senescence program, which is manifest in benign nevi lesions where indolent SnCs accumulate over time and preserve a non-pro-inflammatory tissue microenvironment maintaining NKG2D-mediated immunosurveillance. Our study shows how subpopulations of SnCs elude immunosurveillance, and reveals secretome-targeted therapeutic strategies to selectively eliminate –and restore the clearance of– the detrimental SnCs that actively persist after chemotherapy and accumulate at sites of aging pathologies.
Denise P. Muñoz, Steve M. Yannone, Anneleen Daemen, Yu Sun, Funda Vakar-Lopez, Misako Kawahara, Adam M. Freund, Francis Rodier, Jennifer D. Wu, Pierre-Yves Desprez, David H. Raulet, Peter S. Nelson, Laura J. van 't Veer, Judith Campisi, Jean-Philippe Coppé
Background: Little is known about the genomic differences between metastatic urothelial carcinoma (LTUC) and upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC). We compare genomic features of primary and metastatic UTUC and LTUC tumors in a cohort of patients with end stage disease. Methods: We performed whole exome sequencing on matched primary and metastatic tumor samples (N=37) from 7 patients with metastatic UC collected via rapid autopsy. Inter- and intra-patient mutational burden, mutational signatures, predicted deleterious mutations, and somatic copy alterations (sCNV) were analyzed. Results: We investigated 3 patients with UTUC (3 primary samples, 13 metastases) and 4 patients with LTUC (4 primary samples, 17 metastases). We found that sSNV burden was higher in metastatic LTUC compared to UTUC. Moreover, the APOBEC mutational signature was pervasive in metastatic LTUC and less so in UTUC. Despite a lower overall sSNV burden, UTUC displayed greater inter- and intra-individual genomic distances at the copy number level between primary and metastatic tumors than LTUC. Our data also indicate that metastatic UTUC lesions can arise from small clonal populations present in the primary cancer. Importantly, putative druggable mutations were found across patients with the majority shared across all metastases within a patient. Conclusions: Metastatic UTUC demonstrated a lower overall mutational burden but greater structural variability compared to LTUC. Our findings suggest that metastatic UTUC displays a greater spectrum of copy number divergence from LTUC. Importantly, we identified druggable lesions shared across metastatic samples, which demonstrate a level of targetable homogeneity within individual patients.
Brian R. Winters, Navonil De Sarkar, Sonali Arora, Hamid Bolouri, Sujata Jana, Funda Vakar-Lopez, Heather H. Cheng, Michael T. Schweizer, Evan Y. Yu, Petros Grivas, John K. Lee, Lori Kollath, Sarah K. Holt, Lisa McFerrin, Gavin Ha, Peter S. Nelson, Robert B. Montgomery, Jonathan L. Wright, Hung-Ming Lam, Andrew C. Hsieh
Cancer development is influenced by hereditary mutations, somatic mutations due to random errors in DNA replication, or external factors. It remains unclear how distinct cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic factors impact oncogenesis within the same tissue type. We investigated murine soft tissue sarcomas generated by oncogenic alterations (KrasG12D activation and p53 deletion), carcinogens (3-methylcholanthrene [MCA] or ionizing radiation), and in a novel model combining both factors (MCA plus p53 deletion). Whole-exome sequencing demonstrated distinct mutational signatures in individual sarcoma cohorts. MCA-induced sarcomas exhibited high mutational burden and predominantly G-to-T transversions, while radiation-induced sarcomas exhibited low mutational burden and a distinct genetic signature characterized by C-to-T transitions. The indel to substitution ratio and amount of gene copy number variations were high for radiation-induced sarcomas. MCA-induced tumors generated on a p53-deficient background showed the highest genomic instability. MCA-induced sarcomas harbored mutations in putative cancer-driver genes that regulate MAPK signaling (Kras and Nf1) and the Hippo pathway (Fat1 and Fat4). In contrast, radiation-induced sarcomas and KrasG12Dp53–/– sarcomas did not harbor recurrent oncogenic mutations, rather they exhibited amplifications of specific oncogenes: Kras and Myc in KrasG12Dp53–/– sarcomas, and Met and Yap1 for radiation-induced sarcomas. These results reveal that different initiating events drive oncogenesis through distinct mechanisms.
Chang-Lung Lee, Yvonne M. Mowery, Andrea R. Daniel, Dadong Zhang, Alexander B. Sibley, Joe R. Delaney, Amy J. Wisdom, Xiaodi Qin, Xi Wang, Isibel Caraballo, Jeremy Gresham, Lixia Luo, David Van Mater, Kouros Owzar, David G. Kirsch
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the most common cause of lower urinary tract symptoms in men. Current treatments target prostate physiology rather than BPH pathophysiology and are only partially effective. Here, we applied next-generation sequencing to gain new insight into BPH. By RNAseq, we uncovered transcriptional heterogeneity among BPH cases, where a 65-gene BPH stromal signature correlated with symptom severity. Stromal signaling molecules BMP5 and CXCL13 were enriched in BPH while estrogen regulated pathways were depleted. Notably, BMP5 addition to cultured prostatic myofibroblasts altered their expression profile towards a BPH profile that included the BPH stromal signature. RNAseq also suggested an altered cellular milieu in BPH, which we verified by immunohistochemistry and single-cell RNAseq. In particular, BPH tissues exhibited enrichment of myofibroblast subsets, whilst depletion of neuroendocrine cells and an estrogen receptor (ESR1)-positive fibroblast cell type residing near epithelium. By whole-exome sequencing, we uncovered somatic single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) in BPH, of uncertain pathogenic significance but indicative of clonal cell expansions. Thus, genomic characterization of BPH has identified a clinically-relevant stromal signature and new candidate disease pathways (including a likely role for BMP5 signaling), and reveals BPH to be not merely a hyperplasia, but rather a fundamental re-landscaping of cell types.
Lance W. Middleton, Zhewei Shen, Sushama Varma, Anna S. Pollack, Xue Gong, Shirley Zhu, Chunfang Zhu, Joseph W. Foley, Sujay Vennam, Robert T. Sweeney, Karen Tu, Jewison Biscocho, Okyaz Eminaga, Rosalie Nolley, Robert Tibshirani, James D. Brooks, Robert B. West, Jonathan R. Pollack
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