Immunotherapy prolongs survival in only a subset of melanoma patients, highlighting the need to better understand the driver tumor microenvironment. We conducted bioinformatic analyses of 703 transcriptomes to probe the immune landscape of primary cutaneous melanomas in a population-ascertained cohort. We identified and validated 6 immunologically distinct subgroups, with the largest having the lowest immune scores and the poorest survival. This poor-prognosis subgroup exhibited expression profiles consistent with β-catenin–mediated failure to recruit CD141+ DCs. A second subgroup displayed an equally bad prognosis when histopathological factors were adjusted for, while 4 others maintained comparable survival profiles. The 6 subgroups were replicated in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) melanomas, where β-catenin signaling was also associated with low immune scores predominantly related to hypomethylation. The survival benefit of high immune scores was strongest in patients with double-WT tumors for BRAF and NRAS, less strong in BRAF-V600 mutants, and absent in NRAS (codons 12, 13, 61) mutants. In summary, we report evidence for a β-catenin–mediated immune evasion in 42% of melanoma primaries overall and in 73% of those with the worst outcome. We further report evidence for an interaction between oncogenic mutations and host response to melanoma, suggesting that patient stratification will improve immunotherapeutic outcomes.
Jérémie Nsengimana, Jon Laye, Anastasia Filia, Sally O’Shea, Sathya Muralidhar, Joanna Poźniak, Alastair Droop, May Chan, Christy Walker, Louise Parkinson, Joanne Gascoyne, Tracey Mell, Minttu Polso, Rosalyn Jewell, Juliette Randerson-Moor, Graham P. Cook, D. Timothy Bishop, Julia Newton-Bishop
Synthetic lethality-based strategy has been developed to identify therapeutic targets in cancer harboring tumor suppressor gene mutations, as exemplified by the effectiveness of PARP inhibitors in BRCA1/2-mutated tumors. However, many synthetic lethal interactors are less reliable due to the fact that such genes usually do not perform fundamental or indispensable functions in the cell. Here we developed an approach to identify the “essential lethality” arose from these mutated/deleted essential genes, which are largely tolerated in cancer cells due to genetic redundancy. We uncovered the cohesion subunit SA1 as a putative synthetic-essential target in cancers carrying inactivating mutations of its paralog, SA2. In SA2-deficient Ewing sarcoma and bladder cancer, further depletion of SA1 profoundly and specifically suppressed cancer cell proliferation, survival and tumorigenic potential. Mechanistically, inhibition of SA1 in the SA2-mutated cells led to premature chromatid separation, dramatic extension of mitotic duration, and consequently lethal failure of cell division. More importantly, depletion of SA1 rendered those SA2-mutated cells more susceptible to DNA damage, especially double-strand breaks (DSBs), due to reduced functionality of DNA repair. Furthermore, inhibition of SA1 sensitized the SA2-deficient cancer cells to PARP inhibitors in vitro and in vivo, providing a potential therapeutic strategy for patients with SA2-deficient tumors.
Yunhua Liu, Hanchen Xu, Kevin Van der Jeught, Yujing Li, Sheng Liu, Lu Zhang, Yuanzhang Fang, Xinna Zhang, Milan Rodovich, Bryan P. Schneider, Xiaoming He, Cheng Huang, Chi Zhang, Jun Wan, Guang Ji, Xiongbin Lu
Altered epigenetic reprogramming contributes to breast cancer progression and metastasis. How the epigenetic reader mediates breast cancer progression remains poorly understood. Here, we showed that the epigenetic reader zinc finger MYND-type containing 8 (ZMYND8) is induced by HIF-1 and HIF-2 in breast cancer cells and also upregulated in human breast tumors, and is correlated with poor survival of patients with breast cancer. Genetic deletion of ZMYND8 decreases breast cancer cell colony formation, migration, and invasion in vitro, and inhibits breast tumor growth and metastasis to the lungs in mice. The ZMYND8’s oncogenic effect in breast cancer requires HIF-1 and HIF-2. We further showed that ZMYND8 interacts with HIF-1α and HIF-2α and enhances elongation of the global HIF-induced oncogenic genes by increasing recruitment of BRD4 and subsequent release of paused RNA polymerase II in breast cancer cells. ZMYND8 acetylation at lysines 1007 and 1034 by p300 is required for HIF activation and breast cancer progression and metastasis. These findings uncover a primary epigenetic mechanism of HIF activation and HIF-mediated breast cancer progression, and discover a possible molecular target for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
Yan Chen, Bo Zhang, Lei Bao, Lai Jin, Mingming Yang, Yan Peng, Ashwani Kumar, Jennifer E. Wang, Chenliang Wang, Xuan Zou, Chao Xing, Yingfei Wang, Weibo Luo
In situ cancer vaccines are under active clinical investigation due to their reported ability to eradicate both local and disseminated malignancies. Intratumoral vaccine administration is thought to activate a T cell mediated immune response, which begins in the treated tumor and cascades systemically. We describe a positron emission tomography tracer (64Cu-DOTA-AbOX40) that enabled non-invasive and longitudinal imaging of OX40, a cell surface marker of T cell activation. We report the spatiotemporal dynamics of T cell activation following in situ vaccination with CpG oligodeoxynucleotide, in a dual tumor bearing mouse model. We demonstrate that OX40 imaging could predict tumor responses at day 9 post treatment based on tumor tracer uptake at day 2, with higher accuracy than both anatomical and blood-based measurements. These studies provide key insights into global T cell activation following local CpG treatment and indicate that 64Cu-DOTA-AbOX40 is a promising candidate for monitoring clinical cancer immunotherapy strategies.
Israt S. Alam, Aaron T. Mayer, Idit Sagiv-Barfi, Kezheng Wang, Ophir Vermesh, Debra K. Czerwinski, Emily M. Johnson, Michelle L. James, Ronald Levy, Sanjiv S. Gambhir
Neurofibromatosis type 1 associates with multiple neoplasms and the Schwann cell tumor neurofibroma is the most prevalent. A hallmark feature of neurofibroma is mast cell infiltration which is recruited by chemoattractant stem cell factor (SCF) that has been suggested to sustain neurofibroma tumorigenesis. In this study, using new genetically engineered Scf mice, we decipher the contributions of tumor-derived SCF and mast cells to neurofibroma development. We demonstrate that mast cell infiltration is dependent on SCF from tumor Schwann cells. However, removal of mast cells by depleting this main SCF source only slightly affects neurofibroma progression. Other inflammation signatures show that all neurofibromas are associated with high levels of macrophages regardless of Scf status. These findings suggest an active inflammation in neurofibromas and partly explain why mast cell removal alone is not sufficient to relieve tumor burden in this experimental neurofibroma model. Furthermore, we show that plexiform neurofibromas are highly associated with injury-prone spinal nerves that are close to flexible vertebras. In summary, our study details the role of inflammation in neurofibromagenesis. These data paired with the observed tumor locations indicate that prevention of inflammation, and possibly nerve injury, are therapeutic approaches for neurofibroma prophylaxis and treatment that should be explored.
Chung-Ping Liao, Reid C. Booker, Jean-Philippe Brosseau, Zhiguo Chen, Juan Mo, Edem Tchegnon, Yong Wang, D. Wade Clapp, Lu Q. Le
Single cancer cell sequencing studies currently use randomly-selected cells, limiting correlations between genomic aberrations, morphology and spatial localization. We laser-captured microdissected single cells from morphologically-distinct areas of primary breast cancer and corresponding lymph node metastasis and performed whole-exome or deep-target sequencing of greater than 100 such cells. Two major subclones co-existed in different areas of the primary tumor, and the lymph node metastasis originated from a minor subclone in the invasive front of the primary tumor with additional copy number changes including 8q gain, but no additional point mutations in driver genes. Lack of metastasis-specific driver events lead us to assess whether other clonal and subclonal genomic aberrations pre-existing in primary tumors contribute to lymph node metastasis. Gene mutations and copy number variations analyzed in five breast cancer tissue sample sets revealed that copy number variations in several genomic regions, including areas within chromosome 1p, 8q, 9p, 12q and 20q, harboring several metastasis-associated genes, were consistently associated with lymph node metastasis. Moreover, clonal expansion was observed in an area of morphologically-normal breast epithelia, likely driven by a driver mutation and a subsequent amplification in chromosome 1q. Our study illuminates the molecular evolution of breast cancer and genomic aberrations contributing to metastases.
Li Bao, Zhaoyang Qian, Maria B. Lyng, Ling Wang, Yuan Yu, Ting Wang, Xiuqing Zhang, Huanming Yang, Nils Brünner, Jun Wang, Henrik J. Ditzel
ONC201 is a first-in-class, orally active anti-tumor agent that upregulates cytotoxic TRAIL pathway signaling in cancer cells. ONC201 has demonstrated safety and preliminary efficacy in the first-in-human trial where patients were dosed every 3 weeks. We hypothesized that dose-intensification of ONC201 may impact anti-tumor efficacy. We discovered that ONC201 exerts dose- and schedule-dependent effects on tumor progression and cell-death signaling in vivo. With dose intensification, we note a potent anti-metastasis effect and inhibition of cancer cell migration and invasion. Our preclinical results prompted a change in ONC201 dosing in all open clinical trials. We observe accumulation of activated NK+ and CD3+ cells within ONC201-treated tumors, and NK-cell depletion inhibits ONC201 efficacy in vivo, including against TRAIL/ONC201-resistant Bax–/– tumors. Immunocompetent NCR1-GFP mice with GFP-expressing NK-cells demonstrate GFP(+)-NK cell infiltration of syngeneic MC38 colorectal tumors. Activation of primary human NK cells and increased de-granulation occur in response to ONC201. Co-culture experiments identified a role for TRAIL in human NK-mediated anti-tumor cytotoxicity. Preclinical results indicate potential utility for ONC201 plus anti-PD-1 therapy. We observed an increase in activated TRAIL-secreting NK cells in the peripheral blood of patients after receiving ONC201 treatment. The results offer a unique pathway of immune stimulation for cancer therapy.
Jessica Wagner, C. Leah Kline, Lanlan Zhou, Kerry S. Campbell, Alexander W. MacFarlane, Anthony J. Olszanski, Kathy Q. Cai, Harvey H. Hensley, Eric A. Ross, Marie D. Ralff, Andrew Zloza, Charles B. Chesson, Jenna H. Newman, Howard Kaufman, Joseph R. Bertino, Mark N. Stein, Wafik El-Deiry
BACKGROUND. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors are effective in a broad population of ovarian cancer patients, however resistance caused by low enzyme expression of the drug target, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP-1), remains to be clinically evaluated in this context. We hypothesize that PARP-1 expression is variable in ovarian cancer and can be quantified in primary and metastatic disease using a novel positron emitting tomography (PET) imaging agent. METHODS. We used a translational approach to describe the significance of PET imaging of PARP-1 in ovarian cancer. First, we produced PARP1 KO ovarian cancer cell lines using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to test loss of PARP-1 as a resistance mechanism to all clinically used PARP inhibitors. Next, we performed pre-clinical microPET imaging studies using ovarian cancer patient derived xenografts in mouse models. Finally, in a phase 1 PET imaging clinical trial we explored PET imaging as a regional marker of PARP-1 expression in primary and metastatic disease through correlative tissue histology. RESULTS. We found deletion of PARP1 causes resistance to all PARP inhibitors in vitro and microPET imaging provides proof of concept as an approach to quantify PARP-1 in vivo. Clinically, we observed a spectrum of standard uptake values (SUVs) for PARP-1 in tumors ranging from 2-12. In addition, we found a positive correlation between PET SUVs and fluorescent immunohistochemistry for PARP-1 (r2: 0.60). CONCLUSIONS. This work confirms the translational potential of a PARP-1 PET imaging agent and supports future clinical trials to test PARP-1 expression as a method to stratify patients for PARP inhibitor therapy. Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT02637934.
Mehran Makvandi, Austin Pantel, Lauren Schwartz, Erin Schubert, Kuiying Xu, Chia-Ju Hsieh, Catherine Hou, Hyoung Kim, Chi-Chang Weng, Harrison Winters, Robert Doot, Michael D. Farwell, Daniel A. Pryma, Roger A. Greenberg, David A. Mankoff, Fiona Simpkins, Robert H. Mach, Lilie L. Lin
Intralesional therapy with oncolytic viruses (OVs) leads to the activation of local and systemic immune pathways, which may present targets for further combinatorial therapies. Here, we used human tumor histocultures as well as syngeneic tumor models treated with Newcastle disease virus (NDV) to identify a range of immune targets upregulated with OV treatment. Despite tumor infiltration of effector T lymphocytes in response to NDV, there was ongoing inhibition through programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1), acting as a mechanism of early and late adaptive immune resistance to the type I IFN response and T cell infiltration, respectively. Systemic therapeutic targeting of programmed cell death receptor 1 (PD-1) or PD-L1 in combination with intratumoral NDV resulted in the rejection of both treated and distant tumors. These findings have implications for the timing of PD-1/PD-L1 blockade in conjunction with OV therapy and highlight the importance of understanding the adaptive mechanisms of immune resistance to specific OVs for the rational design of combinatorial approaches using these agents.
Dmitriy Zamarin, Jacob M. Ricca, Svetlana Sadekova, Anton Oseledchyk, Ying Yu, Wendy M. Blumenschein, Jerelyn Wong, Mathieu Gigoux, Taha Merghoub, Jedd D. Wolchok
Non-antigen-specific stimulatory cancer immunotherapies are commonly complicated by off-target effects. Antigen-specific immunotherapy, combining viral tumor antigen or personalised neo-epitopes with immune targeting, offers a solution. However, the lack of flexible systems targeting tumor antigens to cross-presenting dendritic cells (DCs) limits clinical development. Although antigen-anti-CLEC-9A mAb conjugates target cross-presenting DCs, adjuvant must be co-delivered for cytotoxic T-cell (CTL) induction. We functionalized tailored nanoemulsions encapsulating tumor antigens to target Clec9A (Clec9A-TNE). Clec9A-TNE encapsulating ovalbumin (OVA) antigen targeted and activated cross-presenting DCs without additional adjuvant, promoting antigen-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell proliferation, CTL and antibody responses. OVA-Clec9A-TNE-induced DC activation required CD4 and CD8 epitopes, CD40 and IFN-α. Clec9A-TNE encapsulating human papillomavirus (HPV) E6-E7 significantly suppressed HPV-associated tumor growth while E6-E7-CpG did not. Clec9A-TNE loaded with pooled B16F10 melanoma neo-epitopes induced epitope-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses, permitting selection of immunogenic neo-epitopes. Clec9A-TNE encapsulating six neo-epitopes significantly suppressed B16-F10 melanoma growth in a CD4 T cell-dependent manner. Thus, cross-presenting DCs targeted with antigen-Clec9A-TNE stimulate therapeutically-effective tumor-specific immunity, dependent on T cell help.
Bijun Zeng, Anton P.J. Middelberg, Adrian Gemiarto, Kelli MacDonald, Alan G. Baxter, Meghna Talekar, Davide Moi, Kirsteen M. Tullett, Irina Caminschi, Mireille H. Lahoud, Roberta Mazzieri, Riccardo Dolcetti, Ranjeny Thomas