Metastasis is the dominant cause of patient death in small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), and a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying SCLC metastasis may potentially improve clinical treatment. Through genome-scale screening for key regulators of mouse Rb1–/– Trp53–/– SCLC metastasis using the pooled CRISPR/Cas9 library, we identified Cullin5 (CUL5) and suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3), two components of the Cullin-RING E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, as top candidates. Mechanistically, the deficiency of CUL5 or SOCS3 disrupted the functional formation of the E3 ligase complex and prevented the degradation of integrin β1, which stabilized integrin β1 and activated downstream focal adhesion kinase/SRC (FAK/SRC) signaling and eventually drove SCLC metastasis. Low expression levels of CUL5 and SOCS3 were significantly associated with high integrin β1 levels and poor prognosis in a large cohort of 128 clinical patients with SCLC. Moreover, the CUL5-deficient SCLCs were vulnerable to the treatment of the FDA-approved SRC inhibitor dasatinib. Collectively, this work identifies the essential role of CUL5- and SOCS3-mediated integrin β1 turnover in controlling SCLC metastasis, which might have therapeutic implications.
Gaoxiang Zhao, Liyan Gong, Dan Su, Yujuan Jin, Chenchen Guo, Meiting Yue, Shun Yao, Zhen Qin, Yi Ye, Ying Tang, Qibiao Wu, Jian Zhang, Binghai Cui, Qiurong Ding, Hsinyi Huang, Liang Hu, Yuting Chen, Peiyuan Zhang, Guohong Hu, Luonan Chen, Kwok-Kin Wong, Daming Gao, Hongbin Ji
MAPK4 is an atypical MAPK. Currently, little is known about its physiological function and involvement in diseases, including cancer. A comprehensive analysis of 8887 gene expression profiles in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) revealed that MAPK4 overexpression correlates with decreased overall survival, with particularly marked survival effects in patients with lung adenocarcinoma, bladder cancer, low-grade glioma, and thyroid carcinoma. Interestingly, human tumor MAPK4 overexpression also correlated with phosphorylation of AKT, 4E-BP1, and p70S6K, independent of the loss of PTEN or mutation of PIK3CA. This led us to examine whether MAPK4 activates the key metabolic, prosurvival, and proliferative kinase AKT and mTORC1 signaling, independent of the canonical PI3K pathway. We found that MAPK4 activated AKT via a novel, concerted mechanism independent of PI3K. Mechanistically, MAPK4 directly bound and activated AKT by phosphorylation of the activation loop at threonine 308. It also activated mTORC2 to phosphorylate AKT at serine 473 for full activation. MAPK4 overexpression induced oncogenic outcomes, including transforming prostate epithelial cells into anchorage-independent growth, and MAPK4 knockdown inhibited cancer cell proliferation, anchorage-independent growth, and xenograft growth. We concluded that MAPK4 can promote cancer by activating the AKT/mTOR signaling pathway and that targeting MAPK4 may provide a novel therapeutic approach for cancer.
Wei Wang, Tao Shen, Bingning Dong, Chad J. Creighton, Yanling Meng, Wolong Zhou, Qing Shi, Hao Zhou, Yinjie Zhang, David D. Moore, Feng Yang
Chronic stress triggers activation of the sympathetic nervous system and drives malignancy. Using an immunodeficient murine system, we showed that chronic stress–induced epinephrine promoted breast cancer stem-like properties via lactate dehydrogenase A–dependent (LDHA-dependent) metabolic rewiring. Chronic stress–induced epinephrine activated LDHA to generate lactate, and the adjusted pH directed USP28-mediated deubiquitination and stabilization of MYC. The SLUG promoter was then activated by MYC, which promoted development of breast cancer stem-like traits. Using a drug screen that targeted LDHA, we found that a chronic stress–induced cancer stem-like phenotype could be reversed by vitamin C. These findings demonstrated the critical importance of psychological factors in promoting stem-like properties in breast cancer cells. Thus, the LDHA-lowering agent vitamin C can be a potential approach for combating stress-associated breast cancer.
Bai Cui, Yuanyuan Luo, Pengfei Tian, Fei Peng, Jinxin Lu, Yongliang Yang, Qitong Su, Bing Liu, Jiachuan Yu, Xi Luo, Liu Yin, Wei Cheng, Fan An, Bin He, Dapeng Liang, Sijin Wu, Peng Chu, Luyao Song, Xinyu Liu, Huandong Luo, Jie Xu, Yujia Pan, Yang Wang, Dangsheng Li, Peng Huang, Qingkai Yang, Lingqiang Zhang, Binhua P. Zhou, Suling Liu, Guowang Xu, Eric W.-F. Lam, Keith W. Kelley, Quentin Liu
Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a complication of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) that affects multiple organs. GVHD-associated intestinal damage can be separated into two distinct phases, initiation and propagation, which correspond to conditioning-induced damage and effector T cell activation and infiltration, respectively. Substantial evidence indicates that intestinal damage induced by pretransplant conditioning is a key driver of GVHD initiation. Here, we aimed to determine the impact of dysregulated intestinal permeability on the subsequent GVHD propagation phase. The initiation phase of GVHD was unchanged in mice lacking long MLCK (MLCK210), an established regulator of epithelial tight junction permeability. However, MLCK210-deficient mice were protected from sustained barrier loss and exhibited limited GVHD propagation, as indicated by reduced histopathology, fewer CD8+ effector T cells in the gut, and improved overall survival. Consistent with these findings, intestinal epithelial MLCK210 expression and enzymatic activity were similarly increased in human and mouse GVHD biopsies. Intestinal epithelial barrier loss mediated by MLCK210 is therefore a key driver of the GVHD propagation. These data suggest that inhibition of MLCK210-dependent barrier regulation may be an effective approach to limiting GVHD progression.
Sam C. Nalle, Li Zuo, Ma. Lora Drizella M. Ong, Gurminder Singh, Alicia M. Worthylake, Wangsun Choi, Mario Cabrero Manresa, Anna P. Southworth, Karen L. Edelblum, Gregory J. Baker, Nora E. Joseph, Peter A. Savage, Jerrold R. Turner
We used the cancer intrinsic property of oncogene-induced DNA damage as the base for a conditional synthetic lethality approach. To target mechanisms important for cancer cell adaptation to genotoxic stress and thereby to achieve cancer cell-specific killing, we combined inhibition of the kinases ATR and Wee1. Wee1 regulates cell cycle progression, whereas ATR is an apical kinase in the DNA damage response. In an orthotopic breast cancer model, tumor-selective synthetic lethality between bioavailable ATR and Wee1 inhibitors led to tumor remission and inhibited metastasis with minimal side effects. ATR and Wee1 inhibition had a higher synergistic effect in cancer stem cells than in bulk cancer cells, compensating for the lower sensitivity of cancer stem cells to the individual drugs. Mechanistically, the combination treatment caused cells with unrepaired or under-replicated DNA to enter mitosis leading to mitotic catastrophe. As these inhibitors of ATR and Wee1 are already in phase I/II clinical trials, this knowledge could soon be translated into the clinic, especially as we showed that the combination treatment targets a wide range of tumor cells. Particularly the anti-metastatic effect of combined Wee1/ATR inhibition and the low toxicity of ATR inhibitors compared to Chk1 inhibitors has great clinical potential.
Amirali B. Bukhari, Cody W. Lewis, Joanna J. Pearce, Deandra Luong, Gordon K. Chan, Armin M. Gamper
The cyclic GMP-AMP synthase–stimulator of interferon genes (cGAS/STING) pathway detects cytosolic DNA to activate innate immune responses. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors (PARPi) selectively target cancer cells with DNA repair deficiencies such as those caused by BRCA1 mutations or ERCC1 defects. Using isogenic cell lines and patient-derived samples, we showed that ERCC1-defective non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells exhibit an enhanced type I interferon transcriptomic signature, and that low ERCC1 expression correlates with increased lymphocytic infiltration. We demonstrated that clinical PARPi, including olaparib and rucaparib, have cell-autonomous immunomodulatory properties in ERCC1-defective NSCLC and BRCA1-defective triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells. Mechanistically, PARPi generated cytoplasmic chromatin fragments with micronuclei characteristics; these were found to activate cGAS/STING, downstream type I interferon signaling and CCL5 secretion. Importantly, these effects were suppressed in PARP1-null TNBC cells, suggesting that this phenotype resulted from an on-target effect of PARPi on PARP1. PARPi also potentiated interferon-γ-induced PD-L1 expression in NSCLC cell lines and in fresh patient tumor cells; this effect was enhanced in ERCC1-deficient contexts. Our data provide the preclinical rationale for using PARPi as immunomodulatory agents in appropriately molecularly-selected populations.
Roman M. Chabanon, Gareth Muirhead, Dragomir B. Krastev, Julien Adam, Daphné Morel, Marlène Garrido, Andrew Lamb, Clémence Hénon, Nicolas Dorvault, Mathieu Rouanne, Rebecca Marlow, Ilirjana Bajrami, Marta Llorca Cardeñosa, Asha Konde, Benjamin Besse, Alan Ashworth, Stephen J. Pettitt, Syed Haider, Aurélien Marabelle, Andrew N.J. Tutt, Jean-Charles Soria, Christopher J. Lord, Sophie Postel-Vinay
Adoptive transfer of T cell receptor–engineered (TCR-engineered) T cells is a promising approach in cancer therapy but needs improvement for more effective treatment of solid tumors. While most clinical approaches have focused on CD8+ T cells, the importance of CD4+ T cells in mediating tumor regression has become apparent. Regarding shared (self) tumor antigens, it is unclear whether the human CD4+ T cell repertoire has been shaped by tolerance mechanisms and lacks highly functional TCRs suitable for therapy. Here, TCRs against the tumor-associated antigen NY-ESO-1 were isolated either from human CD4+ T cells or from mice that express a diverse human TCR repertoire with HLA-DRA/DRB1*0401 restriction and are NY-ESO-1 negative. NY-ESO-1–reactive TCRs from the mice showed superior recognition of tumor cells and higher functional activity compared with TCRs from humans. We identified a candidate TCR, TCR-3598_2, which was expressed in CD4+ T cells and caused tumor regression in combination with NY-ESO-1–redirected CD8+ T cells in a mouse model of adoptive T cell therapy. These data suggest that MHC II–restricted TCRs against NY-ESO-1 from a nontolerant nonhuman host are of optimal affinity and that the combined use of MHC I– and II–restricted TCRs against NY-ESO-1 can make adoptive T cell therapy more effective.
Lucia Poncette, Xiaojing Chen, Felix K.M. Lorenz, Thomas Blankenstein
While immune checkpoint blockade leads to potent antitumor efficacy, it also leads to immune-related adverse events in cancer patients. These toxicities stem from systemic immune activation resulting in inflammation of multiple organs, including the gastrointestinal tract, lung, and endocrine organs. We developed a dual variable domain immunoglobulin of anti-CTLA4 antibody (anti-CTLA4 DVD, where CTLA4 is defined as cytotoxic T lymphocyte–associated antigen-4) possessing an outer tumor-specific antigen-binding site engineered to shield the inner anti-CTLA4–binding domain. Upon reaching the tumor, the outer domain was cleaved by membrane type-serine protease 1 (MT-SP1) present in the tumor microenvironment, leading to enhanced localization of CTLA4 blockade. Anti-CTLA4 DVD markedly reduced multiorgan immune toxicity by preserving tissue-resident Tregs in Rag 1–/– mice that received naive donor CD4+ T cells from WT C57BL/6j mice. Moreover, anti-CTLA4 DVD induced potent antitumor effects by decreasing tumor-infiltrating Tregs and increasing the infiltration of antigen-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes in TRAMP-C2–bearing C57BL/6j mice. Treg depletion was mediated through the antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) mechanism, as anti-CTLA4 without the FcγR-binding portion (anti-CTLA4 DANA) spared Tregs, preventing treatment-induced toxicities. In summary, our results demonstrate an approach to anti-CTLA4 blockade that depletes tumor-infiltrating, but not tissue-resident, Tregs, preserving antitumor effects while minimizing toxicity. Thus, our tumor-conditional anti-CTLA4 DVD provides an avenue for uncoupling antitumor efficacy from immunotherapy-induced toxicities.
Chien-Chun Steven Pai, Donald M. Simons, Xiaoqing Lu, Michael Evans, Junnian Wei, Yung-hua Wang, Mingyi Chen, John Huang, Chanhyuk Park, Anthony Chang, Jiaxi Wang, Susan Westmoreland, Christine Beam, Dave Banach, Diana Bowley, Feng Dong, Jane Seagal, Wendy Ritacco, Paul L. Richardson, Soumya Mitra, Grace Lynch, Pete Bousquet, John Mankovich, Gillian Kingsbury, Lawrence Fong
The adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of colorectal carcinoma (CRC), but remains a challenge for drug development. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are invaluable in identifying cancer pathologies, and providing therapeutic options for cancer patients. Here, we identified a lncRNA (lncRNA-APC1) activated by APC through lncRNA microarray screening, and examined its expression among a large cohort of CRC tissues. A decrease in lncRNA-APC1 expression was positively associated with lymph node and/or distant metastasis, a more advanced clinical stage, as well as a poor prognosis of CRC patients. Additionally, APC can enhance lncRNA-APC1 expression by suppressing the enrichment of PPARα on the lncRNA-APC1 promoter. Furthermore, enforced lncRNA-APC1 expression was sufficient to inhibit CRC cell growth, metastasis and tumor angiogenesis by suppressing exosome production through directly binding Rab5b mRNA and reducing its stability. Importantly, exosomes derived from lncRNA-APC1-silenced CRC cells promoted angiogenesis by activating the MAPK pathway in endothelial cells, and moreover, exosomal Wnt1 largely enhanced CRC cell proliferation and migration through non-canonicial Wnt signaling. Collectively, lncRNA-APC1 is a critical lncRNA regulated by APC in the pathogenesis of CRC. Our findings suggest an APC-regulated lncRNA-APC1 program as an exploitable therapeutic maneuver for CRC patients.
Feng-Wei Wang, Chen-Hui Cao, Kai Han, Yong-Xiang Zhao, Mu-Yan Cai, Zhi-Cheng Xiang, Jia-Xing Zhang, Jie-Wei Chen, Li-Ping Zhong, Yong Huang, Su-Fang Zhou, Xiao-Han Jin, Xin-Yuan Guan, Rui-Hua Xu, Dan Xie
Prostate cancer (PCa) progressed to castration resistance (CRPC) is a fatal disease. CRPC tumors develop resistance to new-generation anti-androgen enzalutamide through lineage plasticity, characterized by epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and basal-like phenotype. FOXA1 is a transcription factor essential for epithelial lineage differentiation. Here, we demonstrate that FOXA1 loss leads to remarkable up-regulation of transforming growth factor beta 3 (TGFB3), which encodes a ligand of TGF-β pathway. Mechanistically, this is due to genomic occupancy of FOXA1 on an upstream enhancer of TGFB3 gene to directly inhibit its transcription. Functionally, FOXA1 down-regulation induces TGF-β signaling, EMT, and cell motility, which is effectively blocked by TGF-β receptor I inhibitor Galunisertib (LY2157299). Tissue microarray analysis confirmed reduced levels of FOXA1 protein and a concordant increase in TGF-β signaling, indicated by SMAD2 phosphorylation, in CRPC as compared to primary tumors. Importantly, combinatorial LY2157299 treatment sensitized PCa cells to enzalutamide, leading to synergistic effects in inhibiting cell invasion in vitro and xenograft CRPC tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. Therefore, our study establishes FOXA1 as an important regulator of lineage plasticity mediated in part by TGF-β signaling and supports a novel therapeutic strategy to control lineage switching and potentially extend clinical response to antiandrogen therapies.
Bing Song, Su-Hong Park, Jonathan C. Zhao, Ka-wing Fong, Shangze Li, Yongik Lee, Yeqing A. Yang, Subhasree Sridhar, Xiaodong Lu, Sarki A. Abdulkadir, Robert L. Vessella, Colm Morrissey, Timothy M. Kuzel, William J. Catalona, Ximing J. Yang, Jindan Yu