Tumor-induced expansion of Tregs is a significant obstacle to cancer immunotherapy. However, traditional approaches to deplete Tregs are often inefficient, provoking autoimmunity. We show here that administration of IL-27–expressing recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV–IL-27) significantly inhibits tumor growth and enhances T cell responses in tumors. Strikingly, we found that AAV–IL-27 treatment causes rapid depletion of Tregs in peripheral blood, lymphoid organs, and — most pronouncedly — tumor microenvironment. AAV–IL-27–mediated Treg depletion is dependent on IL-27 receptor and Stat1 in Tregs and is a combined result of CD25 downregulation in Tregs and inhibition of IL-2 production by T cells. In combination with a GM-CSF vaccine, AAV–IL-27 treatment not only induced nearly complete tumor rejection, but also resulted in amplified neoantigen-specific T cell responses. AAV–IL-27 also dramatically increased the efficacy of anti–PD-1 therapy, presumably due to induction of PD-L1 in T cells and depletion of Tregs. Importantly, AAV–IL-27 therapy did not induce significant adverse events, partially due to its induction of IL-10. In a plasmacytoma mouse model, we found that IL-10 was required for AAV–IL-27–mediated tumor rejection. Thus, our study demonstrates the potential of AAV–IL-27 as an independent cancer therapeutic and as an efficient adjuvant for cancer immunotherapy.
Jianmin Zhu, Jin-Qing Liu, Min Shi, Xinhua Cheng, Miao Ding, Jianchao C. Zhang, Jonathan P. Davis, Sanjay Varikuti, Abhay R. Satoskar, Lanchun Lu, Xueliang Pan, Pan Zheng, Yang Liu, Xue-Feng Bai
We generated a comprehensive atlas of the immunologic cellular networks within human malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) using mass cytometry. Data-driven analyses of these high-resolution single-cell data identified 2 distinct immunologic subtypes of MPM with vastly different cellular composition, activation states, and immunologic function; mass spectrometry demonstrated differential abundance of MHC-I and -II neopeptides directly identified between these subtypes. The clinical relevance of this immunologic subtyping was investigated with a discriminatory molecular signature derived through comparison of the proteomes and transcriptomes of these 2 immunologic MPM subtypes. This molecular signature, representative of a favorable intratumoral cell network, was independently associated with improved survival in MPM and predicted response to immune checkpoint inhibitors in patients with MPM and melanoma. These data additionally suggest a potentially novel mechanism of response to checkpoint blockade: requirement for high measured abundance of neopeptides in the presence of high expression of MHC proteins specific for these neopeptides.
Hyun-Sung Lee, Hee-Jin Jang, Jong Min Choi, Jun Zhang, Veronica Lenge de Rosen, Thomas M. Wheeler, Ju-Seog Lee, Thuydung Tu, Peter T. Jindra, Ronald H. Kerman, Sung Yun Jung, Farrah Kheradmand, David J. Sugarbaker, Bryan M. Burt
BACKGROUND. Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are a population of immature immune cells with several protumorigenic functions. CD38 is a transmembrane receptor–ectoenzyme expressed by MDSCs in murine models of esophageal cancer. We hypothesized that CD38 could be expressed on MDSCs in human colorectal cancer (CRC), which might allow for a new perspective on therapeutic targeting of human MDSCs with anti-CD38 monoclonal antibodies in this cancer. METHODS. Blood samples were collected from 41 CRC patients and 8 healthy donors, followed by peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) separation. Polymorphonuclear (PMN-) and monocytic (M-) MDSCs and CD38 expression levels were quantified by flow cytometry. The immunosuppressive capacity of M-MDSCs from 10 CRC patients was validated in a mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) assay. RESULTS. A significant expansion of CD38+ M-MDSCs and a trend of expansion of CD38+ PMN-MDSCs (accompanied by a trend of increased CD38 expression on both M- and PMN-MDSCs) were observed in PBMCs of CRC patients when compared with healthy donors. The CD38+ M-MDSCs from CRC patients were found to be immunosuppressive when compared with mature monocytes. CD38+ M- and PMN-MDSC frequencies were significantly higher in CRC patients who previously received treatment when compared with treatment-naive patients. CONCLUSIONS. This study provides a rationale for an attempt to target M-MDSCs with an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody in metastatic CRC patients. FUNDING. NCI P01-CA14305603, the American Cancer Society, Scott and Suzi Lustgarten Family Colon Cancer Research Fund, Hansen Foundation, and Janssen Research and Development.
Tatiana A. Karakasheva, George A. Dominguez, Ayumi Hashimoto, Eric W. Lin, Christopher Chiu, Kate Sasser, Jae W. Lee, Gregory L. Beatty, Dmitry I. Gabrilovich, Anil K. Rustgi
Insulin resistance is associated with increased incidence and enhanced progression of cancers. However, little is known about strategies that can effectively ameliorate insulin resistance and consequently halt cancer progression. Herein, we propose that the transcription factor Nrf2 (also known as Nfe2l2) may be such a target, given its central role in disease prevention. To this end, we developed a mouse that overexpresses the Notch intracellular domain in adipocytes (AdNICD), leading to lipodystrophy-induced severe insulin resistance and subsequent development of sarcomas, as a model reflecting that Notch signaling is deregulated in cancers and shows positive associations with insulin resistance and fatty liver disease in humans. Nrf2 pathway activation was achieved by knocking down Keap1, a repressor of Nrf2, in the AdNICD background. Constitutively enhanced Nrf2 signaling in this setting led to prevention of hepatic steatosis, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance by repressing hepatic lipogenic pathways and restoration of the hepatic fatty acid profile to control levels. This protective effect of Nrf2 against diabetes extended to significant reduction and delay in sarcoma incidence and latency. Our study highlights that the Nrf2 pathway, which has been induced by small molecules in clinical trials, is a potential therapeutic target against insulin resistance and subsequent risk of cancer.
Dionysios V. Chartoumpekis, Yoko Yagishita, Marco Fazzari, Dushani L. Palliyaguru, Uma N.M. Rao, Apostolos Zaravinos, Nicholas K.H. Khoo, Francisco J. Schopfer, Kurt R. Weiss, George K. Michalopoulos, Ian Sipula, Robert M. O’Doherty, Thomas W. Kensler, Nobunao Wakabayashi
BACKGROUND. Constitutive activation of ERK1/2 occurs in various cancers, and its reactivation is a well-described resistance mechanism to MAPK inhibitors. ERK inhibitors may overcome the limitations of MAPK inhibitor blockade. The dual mechanism inhibitor SCH772984 has shown promising preclinical activity across various BRAFV600/RAS-mutant cancer cell lines and human cancer xenografts. METHODS. We have developed an orally bioavailable ERK inhibitor, MK-8353; conducted preclinical studies to demonstrate activity, pharmacodynamic endpoints, dosing, and schedule; completed a study in healthy volunteers (P07652); and subsequently performed a phase I clinical trial in patients with advanced solid tumors (MK-8353-001). In the P07652 study, MK-8353 was administered as a single dose in 10- to 400-mg dose cohorts, whereas in the MK-8353-001 study, MK-8353 was administered in 100- to 800-mg dose cohorts orally twice daily. Safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and antitumor activity were analyzed. RESULTS. MK-8353 exhibited comparable potency with SCH772984 across various preclinical cancer models. Forty-eight patients were enrolled in the P07652 study, and twenty-six patients were enrolled in the MK-8353-001 study. Adverse events included diarrhea (44%), fatigue (40%), nausea (32%), and rash (28%). Dose-limiting toxicity was observed in the 400-mg and 800-mg dose cohorts. Sufficient exposure to MK-8353 was noted that correlated with biological activity in preclinical data. Three of fifteen patients evaluable for treatment response in the MK-8353-001 study had partial response, all with BRAFV600-mutant melanomas. CONCLUSION. MK-8353 was well tolerated up to 400 mg twice daily and exhibited antitumor activity in patients with BRAFV600-mutant melanoma. However, antitumor activity was not particularly correlated with pharmacodynamic parameters. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01358331. FUNDING. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co. Inc., and NIH (P01 CA168585 and R35 CA197633).
Stergios J. Moschos, Ryan J. Sullivan, Wen-Jen Hwu, Ramesh K. Ramanathan, Alex A. Adjei, Peter C. Fong, Ronnie Shapira-Frommer, Hussein A. Tawbi, Joseph Rubino, Thomas S. Rush III, Da Zhang, Nathan R. Miselis, Ahmed A. Samatar, Patrick Chun, Eric H. Rubin, James Schiller, Brian J. Long, Priya Dayananth, Donna Carr, Paul Kirschmeier, W. Robert Bishop, Yongqi Deng, Alan Cooper, Gerald W. Shipps, Blanca Homet Moreno, Lidia Robert, Antoni Ribas, Keith T. Flaherty
Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene mutations induce neural tissue hemangioblastomas, as well as highly vascularized clear cell renal cell carcinomas (ccRCCs). Pathological vessel remodeling arises from misregulation of HIFs and VEGF, among other genes. Variation in disease penetrance has long been recognized in relation to genotype. We show Vhl mutations also disrupt Notch signaling, causing mutation-specific vascular abnormalities, e.g., type 1 (null) vs. type 2B (murine G518A representing human R167Q). In conditional mutation retina vasculature, Vhl-null mutation (i.e., UBCCreER/+Vhlfl/fl) had little effect on initial vessel branching, but it severely reduced arterial and venous branching at later stages. Interestingly, this mutation accelerated arterial maturation, as observed in retina vessel morphology and aberrant α-smooth muscle actin localization, particularly in vascular pericytes. RNA sequencing analysis identified gene expression changes within several key pathways, including Notch and smooth muscle cell contractility. Notch inhibition failed to reverse later-stage branching defects but rescued the accelerated arterialization. Retinal vessels harboring the type 2B Vhl mutation (i.e., UBCCreER/+Vhlfl/2B) displayed stage-specific changes in vessel branching and an advanced progression toward an arterial phenotype. Disrupting Notch signaling in type 2B mutants increased both artery and vein branching and restored arterial maturation toward nonmutant levels. By revealing differential effects of the null and type 2B Vhl mutations on vessel branching and maturation, these data may provide insight into the variability of VHL-associated vascular changes — particularly the heterogeneity and aggressiveness in ccRCC vessel growth — and also suggest Notch pathway targets for treating VHL syndrome.
Alexandra Arreola, Laura Beth Payne, Morgan H. Julian, Aguirre A. de Cubas, Anthony B. Daniels, Sarah Taylor, Huaning Zhao, Jordan Darden, Victoria L. Bautch, W. Kimryn Rathmell, John C. Chappell
Programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) inhibitors have efficacy in treating squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), but objective response rates are low. PD-1 ligand (PD-L1) expression alone is not considered a robust predictor of response and additional biomarkers are needed. This 3-year observational cohort followed 126 SCCHN patients treated with anti–PD-1/L1 therapy. Prior to treatment, 81 (64%) had targeted massively parallel tumor sequencing. Of these, 42 (52%) underwent fluorescence-activated cell sorting and PD-L1 immunohistochemistry for tumor immunoprofiling. Six (5%) complete responses (CRs) and 11 (9%) partial responses (PRs) were observed. Those treated with prior chemotherapy (98, 78%) versus only surgery and/or radiation had longer overall survival (OS) (10 vs. 3 months, P = 0.02). Smokers had a higher total mutational burden (TMB) (P = 0.01). Virus-positive patients had a lower TMB (P < 0.01) and improved OS (P = 0.02). Among virus-negative responders, NOTCH1 and SMARCA4 were more frequently mutated and frameshift events in tumor suppressor genes occurred more frequently (P = 0.03). Higher TMB and CD8+ T cell infiltrates predicted anti–PD-1/L1 benefit (P < 0.01, P < 0.01, respectively) among virus-negative tumors. TIM-3/LAG-3 coexpression with PD-1 was higher on T cells among nonresponders (P = 0.03 and 0.02, respectively). Somatic frameshift events in tumor suppressor genes and higher TMB among virus-negative SCCHN tumors predict anti–PD-1/L1 response.
Glenn J. Hanna, Patrick Lizotte, Megan Cavanaugh, Frank C. Kuo, Priyanka Shivdasani, Alexander Frieden, Nicole G. Chau, Jonathan D. Schoenfeld, Jochen H. Lorch, Ravindra Uppaluri, Laura E. MacConaill, Robert I. Haddad
EBV infection is associated with a number of malignancies of clinical unmet need, including Hodgkin lymphoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, gastric cancer, and posttransplant lymphoproliferative disease (PTLD), all of which express the EBV protein latent membrane protein 2A (LMP2A), an antigen that is difficult to target by conventional antibody approaches. To overcome this, we utilized phage display technology and a structure-guided selection strategy to generate human T cell receptor–like (TCR-like) monoclonal antibodies with exquisite specificity for the LMP2A-derived nonamer peptide, C426LGGLLTMV434 (CLG), as presented on HLA-A*02:01. Our lead construct, clone 38, closely mimics the native binding mode of a TCR, recognizing residues at position P3–P8 of the CLG peptide. To enhance antitumor potency, we constructed dimeric T cell engaging bispecific antibodies (DiBsAb) of clone 38 and an affinity-matured version clone 38-2. Both DiBsAb showed potent antitumor properties in vitro and in immunodeficient mice implanted with EBV transformed B lymphoblastoid cell lines and human T cell effectors. Clone 38 DiBsAb showed a stronger safety profile compared with its affinity-matured variant, with no activity against EBV– tumor cell lines and a panel of normal tissues, and was less cross-reactive against HLA-A*02:01 cells pulsed with a panel of CLG-like peptides predicted from a proteomic analysis. Clone 38 was also shown to recognize the CLG peptide on other HLA-A*02 suballeles, including HLA-A*02:02, HLA-A*02:04, and HLA-A*02:06, allowing for its potential use in additional populations. Clone 38 DiBsAb is a lead candidate to treat EBV malignancies with one of the strongest safety profiles documented for TCR-like mAbs.
Mahiuddin Ahmed, Andres Lopez-Albaitero, Dmitry Pankov, Brian H. Santich, Hong Liu, Su Yan, Jingyi Xiang, Pei Wang, Aisha N. Hasan, Annamalai Selvakumar, Richard J. O’Reilly, Cheng Liu, Nai-Kong V. Cheung
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) — known to be resistant to genotoxic radiation and chemotherapy — are fundamental to therapy failure and cancer relapse. Here, we reveal that glioma CSCs are hypersensitive to radiation, but a temporal DNA repair mechanism converts the intrinsic sensitivity to genomic instability and treatment resistance. Transcriptome analysis identifies DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) as a predominant DNA repair enzyme in CSCs. Notably, DNA-PK activity is suppressed after irradiation when ROS induce the dissociation of DNA-PKcs with Ku70/80, resulting in delayed DNA repair and radiosensitivity; subsequently, after ROS clearance, the accumulated DNA damage and robust activation of DNA-PK induce genomic instability, facilitated by Rad50-mediated cell-cycle arrest, leading to enhanced malignancy, CSC overgrowth, and radioresistance. Finally, we show a requisite in vivo role for DNA-PK in CSC-mediated radioresistance and glioma progression. These findings identify a time-sensitive mechanism controlling CSC resistance to DNA-damaging treatments and suggest DNA-PK/Rad50 as promising targets for CSC eradication.
Yanling Wang, Haineng Xu, Tianrun Liu, Menggui Huang, Param-Puneet Butter, Chunsheng Li, Lin Zhang, Gary D. Kao, Yanqing Gong, Amit Maity, Constantinos Koumenis, Yi Fan
Pancreatic cancer is characterized by nearly universal activating mutations in KRAS. Among other somatic mutations, TP53 is mutated in more than 75% of human pancreatic tumors. Genetically engineered mice have proven instrumental in studies of the contribution of individual genes to carcinogenesis. Oncogenic Kras mutations occur early during pancreatic carcinogenesis and are considered an initiating event. In contrast, mutations in p53 occur later during tumor progression. In our model, we recapitulated the order of mutations of the human disease, with p53 mutation following expression of oncogenic Kras. Further, using an inducible and reversible expression allele for mutant p53, we inactivated its expression at different stages of carcinogenesis. Notably, the function of mutant p53 changes at different stages of carcinogenesis. Our work establishes a requirement for mutant p53 for the formation and maintenance of pancreatic cancer precursor lesions. In tumors, mutant p53 becomes dispensable for growth. However, it maintains the altered metabolism that characterizes pancreatic cancer and mediates its malignant potential. Further, mutant p53 promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer cell invasion. This work generates new mouse models that mimic human pancreatic cancer and expands our understanding of the role of p53 mutation, common in the majority of human malignancies.
Heather K. Schofield, Jörg Zeller, Carlos Espinoza, Christopher J. Halbrook, Annachiara del Vecchio, Brian Magnuson, Tania Fabo, Ayse Ece Cali Daylan, Ilya Kovalenko, Ho-Joon Lee, Wei Yan, Ying Feng, Saadia A. Karim, Daniel M. Kremer, Chandan Kumar-Sinha, Costas A. Lyssiotis, Mats Ljungman, Jennifer P. Morton, Stefanie Galbán, Eric R. Fearon, Marina Pasca di Magliano
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