Mutations in APC promote colorectal cancer (CRC) progression through uncontrolled WNT signaling. Patients with desmoplastic CRC have a significantly worse prognosis and do not benefit from chemotherapy, but the mechanisms underlying the differential responses of APC-mutant CRCs to chemotherapy are not well understood. We report that expression of the transcription factor prospero homeobox 1 (PROX1) was reduced in desmoplastic APC-mutant human CRCs. In genetic Apc-mutant mouse models, loss of Prox1 promoted the growth of desmoplastic, angiogenic, and immunologically silent tumors through derepression of Mmp14. Although chemotherapy inhibited Prox1-proficient tumors, it promoted further stromal activation, angiogenesis, and invasion in Prox1-deficient tumors. Blockade of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) and angiopoietin-2 (ANGPT2) combined with CD40 agonistic antibodies promoted antiangiogenic and immunostimulatory reprogramming of Prox1-deficient tumors, destroyed tumor fibrosis, and unleashed T cell–mediated killing of cancer cells. These results pinpoint the mechanistic basis of chemotherapy-induced hyperprogression and illustrate a therapeutic strategy for chemoresistant and desmoplastic CRCs.
Simone Ragusa, Borja Prat-Luri, Alejandra González-Loyola, Sina Nassiri, Mario Leonardo Squadrito, Alan Guichard, Sabrina Cavin, Nikolce Gjorevski, David Barras, Giancarlo Marra, Matthias P. Lutolf, Jean Perentes, Emily Corse, Roberta Bianchi, Laureline Wetterwald, Jaeryung Kim, Guillermo Oliver, Mauro Delorenzi, Michele De Palma, Tatiana V. Petrova
Despite advancements in targeting the immune checkpoints program cell death protein 1 (PD-1), programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1), and cytotoxic T lymphocyte–associated protein 4 (CTLA-4) for cancer immunotherapy, a large number of patients and cancer types remain unresponsive. Current immunotherapies focus on modulating an antitumor immune response by directly or indirectly expanding antitumor CD8 T cells. A complementary strategy might involve inhibition of Tregs that otherwise suppress antitumor immune responses. Here, we sought to identify functional immune molecules preferentially expressed on tumor-infiltrating Tregs. Using genome-wide RNA-Seq analysis of purified Tregs sorted from multiple human cancer types, we identified a conserved Treg immune checkpoint signature. Using immunocompetent murine tumor models, we found that antibody-mediated depletion of 4-1BB–expressing cells (4-1BB is also known as TNFRSF9 or CD137) decreased tumor growth without negatively affecting CD8 T cell function. Furthermore, we found that the immune checkpoint 4-1BB had a high selectivity for human tumor Tregs and was associated with worse survival outcomes in patients with multiple tumor types. Thus, antibody-mediated depletion of 4-1BB–expressing Tregs represents a strategy with potential activity across cancer types.
Zachary T. Freeman, Thomas R. Nirschl, Daniel H. Hovelson, Robert J. Johnston, John J. Engelhardt, Mark J. Selby, Christina M. Kochel, Ruth Y. Lan, Jingyi Zhai, Ali Ghasemzadeh, Anuj Gupta, Alyza M. Skaist, Sarah J. Wheelan, Hui Jiang, Alexander T. Pearson, Linda A. Snyder, Alan J. Korman, Scott A. Tomlins, Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian, Charles G. Drake
An in-depth understanding of immune escape mechanisms in cancer are likely to lead to innovative advances in immunotherapeutic strategies. However, much remains unknown regarding these mechanisms and how they impact immunotherapy resistance. Using several pre-clinical tumor models as well as clinical specimens, we report a newly identified mechanism whereby CD8+ T cell activation in response to PD-1 blockade induced a PD-L1-NLRP3 inflammasome signaling cascade that ultimately led to the recruitment of granulocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells (PMN-MDSCs) into tumor tissues, thereby dampening the resulting anti-tumor immune response. The genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of NLRP3 suppressed PMN-MDSC tumor infiltration and significantly augmented the efficacy of anti-PD-1 antibody immunotherapy. This pathway therefore represents a tumor-intrinsic adaptive resistance mechanism to anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy and is a promising target for future translational research.
Balamayooran Theivanthiran, Kathy S. Evans, Nicholas C. DeVito, Michael P. Plebanek, Michael Sturdivant, Lucas P. Wachsmuth, April K.S. Salama, Yubin Kang, David Hsu, Justin M. Balko, Douglas B. Johnson, Mark Starr, Andrew B. Nixon, Alisha Holtzhausen, Brent A. Hanks
Background: Neurofibroma/schwannoma hybrid nerve sheath tumors (N/S HNSTs) are neoplasms associated with larger nerves that occur sporadically and in the context of schwannomatosis or neurofibromatosis type 2 or 1. Clinical management of N/S HNST is challenging, especially for large tumors, and established systemic treatments are lacking. Methods: We used next-generation sequencing and array-based DNA methylation profiling to determine the clinically actionable genomic and epigenomic landscapes of N/S HNST. Results: Whole-exome sequencing within a precision oncology program identified an activating mutation (p.Asp769Tyr) in the catalytic domain of the ERBB2 receptor tyrosine kinase in a patient with schwannomatosis-associated N/S HNST, and targeted treatment with the small-molecule ERBB inhibitor lapatinib led to prolonged clinical benefit and a lasting radiographic and metabolic response. Analysis of a multicenter validation cohort revealed recurrent ERBB2 mutations (p.Leu755Ser, p.Asp769Tyr, p.Val777Leu) in N/S HNSTs occurring in patients who met diagnostic criteria for sporadic schwannomatosis (3 of 7 patients), but not in N/S HNSTs arising in the context of neurofibromatosis (6 patients) or outside a tumor syndrome (1 patient), and showed that ERBB2-mutant N/S HNSTs cluster in a distinct subgroup of peripheral nerve sheath tumors based on genome-wide DNA methylation patterns. Conclusion: These findings uncover a key biological feature of N/S HNST that may have important diagnostic and therapeutic implications. Funding: This work was supported by grant H021 from DKFZ-HIPO. MWR and PNH have received fellowships from UCT Frankfurt, and MWR has received funding from the Frankfurt Research Funding Clinician Scientist Program.
Michael W. Ronellenfitsch, Patrick N. Harter, Martina Kirchner, Christoph Heining, Barbara Hutter, Laura Gieldon, Jens Schittenhelm, Martin U. Schuhmann, Marcos Tatagiba, Gerhard Marquardt, Marlies Wagner, Volker Endris, Christian H. Brandts, Victor-Felix Mautner, Evelin Schröck, Wilko Weichert, Benedikt Brors, Andreas von Deimling, Michel Mittelbronn, Joachim P. Steinbach, David E. Reuss, Hanno Glimm, Albrecht Stenzinger, Stefan Fröhling
Increased rates of locoregional recurrence are observed in patients with basal-like breast cancer (BC) despite the use of radiation therapy (RT); therefore, approaches that result in radiosensitization of basal-like BC are critically needed. Using patients’ tumor gene expression data from 4 independent data sets, we correlated gene expression with recurrence to find genes significantly correlated with early recurrence after RT. The highest-ranked gene, TTK, was most highly expressed in basal-like BC across multiple data sets. Inhibition of TTK by both genetic and pharmacologic methods enhanced radiosensitivity in multiple basal-like cell lines. Radiosensitivity was mediated, at least in part, through persistent DNA damage after treatment with TTK inhibition and RT. Inhibition of TTK impaired homologous recombination (HR) and repair efficiency, but not nonhomologous end-joining, and decreased the formation of Rad51 foci. Reintroduction of wild-type TTK rescued both radioresistance and HR repair efficiency after TTK knockdown, however, reintroduction of kinase-dead TTK did not. In vivo, TTK inhibition combined with RT led to a significant decrease in tumor growth in both heterotopic and orthotopic, including patient-derived xenograft, BC models. These data support the rationale for clinical development of TTK inhibition as a radiosensitizing strategy for patients with basal-like BC, and efforts toward this end are currently underway.
Benjamin C. Chandler, Leah Moubadder, Cassandra L. Ritter, Meilan Liu, Meleah Cameron, Kari Wilder-Romans, Amanda Zhang, Andrea M. Pesch, Anna R. Michmerhuizen, Nicole Hirsh, Marlie Androsiglio, Tanner Ward, Eric Olsen, Yashar S. Niknafs, Sofia Merajver, Dafydd G. Thomas, Powel H. Brown, Theodore S. Lawrence, Shyam Nyati, Lori J. Pierce, Arul Chinnaiyan, Corey Speers
Antigen receptor–dependent (AgR-dependent) stimulation of the NF-κB transcription factor in lymphocytes is a required event during adaptive immune response, but dysregulated activation of this signaling pathway can lead to lymphoma. AgR stimulation promotes assembly of the CARMA1-BCL10-MALT1 complex, wherein MALT1 acts as (a) a scaffold to recruit components of the canonical NF-κB machinery, and (b) a protease to cleave and inactivate specific substrates, including negative regulators of NF-κB. In multiple lymphoma subtypes, malignant B cells hijack AgR signaling pathways to promote their own growth and survival, and inhibiting MALT1 reduces the viability and growth of these tumors. As such, MALT1 has emerged as a potential pharmaceutical target. Here, we identified G protein–coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2) as a new MALT1-interacting protein. We demonstrated that GRK2 binds the death domain of MALT1 and inhibits MALT1 scaffolding and proteolytic activities. We found that lower GRK2 levels in activated B cell–type diffuse large B cell lymphoma (ABC-DLBCL) are associated with reduced survival, and that GRK2 knockdown enhances ABC-DLBCL tumor growth in vitro and in vivo. Together, our findings suggest that GRK2 can function as a tumor suppressor by inhibiting MALT1 and provide a roadmap for developing new strategies to inhibit MALT1-dependent lymphomagenesis.
Jing Cheng, Linda R. Klei, Nathaniel E. Hubel, Ming Zhang, Rebekka Schairer, Lisa M. Maurer, Hanna B. Klei, Heejae Kang, Vincent J. Concel, Phillip C. Delekta, Eric V. Dang, Michelle A. Mintz, Mathijs Baens, Jason G. Cyster, Narayanan Parameswaran, Margot Thome, Peter C. Lucas, Linda M. McAllister-Lucas
Oncogene-targeted and immune checkpoint therapies have revolutionized the clinical management of malignant melanoma and now offer hope to patients with advanced disease. Intimately connected to patients’ overall clinical risk is whether the initial primary melanoma lesion will metastasize and cause advanced disease, but underlying mechanisms are not entirely understood. A subset of melanomas display heightened peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ coactivator 1-α (PGC1α) expression that maintains cell survival cues by promoting mitochondrial function, but also suppresses metastatic spread. Here, we show that PGC1α expression in melanoma cells was silenced by chromatin modifications that involve promoter H3K27 trimethylation. Pharmacological EZH2 inhibition diminished H3K27me3 histone markers, increased PGC1α expression, and functionally suppressed invasion within PGC1α-silenced melanoma cells. Mechanistically, PGC1α silencing activated transcription factor 12 (TCF12), to increase expression of WNT5A, which in turn stabilized YAP protein levels to promote melanoma migration and metastasis. Accordingly, inhibition of components of this transcription-signaling axis, including TCF12, WNT5A, or YAP, blocked melanoma migration in vitro and metastasis in vivo. These results indicate that epigenetic control of melanoma metastasis involved altered expression of PGC1α and an association with the inherent metabolic state of the tumor.
Chi Luo, Eduardo Balsa, Elizabeth A. Perry, Jiaxin Liang, Clint D. Tavares, Francisca Vazquez, Hans R. Widlund, Pere Puigserver
Foxp3+ T-regulatory (Treg) cells are key to immune homeostasis, but the contributions of various large, multiprotein complexes that regulate gene expression remain unexplored. We analyzed the role in Tregs of the evolutionarily conserved CoREST complex consisting of a scaffolding protein, Rcor1 or Rcor2, plus Hdac1 or Hdac2 and Lsd1 enzymes. Rcor1, Rcor2 and Lsd1 were physically associated with Foxp3, and mice with conditional deletion of Rcor1 in Foxp3+ Tregs had decreased proportions of Tregs in peripheral lymphoid tissues, and increased Treg expression of IL-2 and IFN-γ compared to WT cells. Mice with conditional deletion of the gene encoding Rcor1 in their Tregs had reduced suppression of homeostatic proliferation, inability to maintain long-term allograft survival despite costimulation blockade, and enhanced antitumor immunity in syngeneic models. Comparable findings were seen in WT mice treated with CoREST complex bivalent inhibitors, which also altered the phenotype of human Tregs and impaired their suppressive function. Our data point to the potential for therapeutic modulation of Treg functions by pharmacologic targeting of enzymatic components of the CoREST complex, and contribute to an understanding of the biochemical and molecular mechanisms by which Foxp3 represses large gene sets and maintains the unique properties of this key immune cell.
Yan Xiong, Liqing Wang, Eros Di Giorgio, Tatiana Akimova, Ulf H. Beier, Rongxiang Han, Matteo Trevisanut, Jay H. Kalin, Philip A. Cole, Wayne W. Hancock
Oncogenic KRAS is a major driver in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) that has yet to be therapeutically conquered. Here we report that the SLC7A11/glutathione axis displays metabolic synthetic lethality with oncogenic KRAS. Through metabolomics approaches, we found that mutationally activated KRAS strikingly increased the intracellular cystine level and glutathione biosynthesis. SLC7A11, a cystine/glutamate antiporter conferring specificity for cystine uptake, was overexpressed in patients with KRAS-mutant LUAD and showed positive association with tumor progression. Furthermore, SLC7A11 inhibition either by genetic depletion or pharmacological inhibition by sulfasalazine resulted in selective killing across a panel of KRAS-mutant cancer cells in vitro and tumor growth inhibition in vivo, suggesting the functionality and specificity of SLC7A11 as a therapeutic target. Importantly, we further identified a potent SLC7A11 inhibitor, HG106 that markedly decreased cystine uptake and intracellular glutathione biosynthesis. Furthermore, HG106 exhibited selective cytotoxicity towards KRAS-mutant cells by increasing oxidative stress- and endoplasmic reticulum stress-mediated cell apoptosis. Of note, treatment of KRAS-mutant LUAD with HG106 in several lung cancer preclinical mouse models led to marked tumor suppression and prolonged mouse survival. Overall, our findings reveal that KRAS-mutant LUAD cells are vulnerable to SLC7A11 inhibition, providing promising therapeutic approaches to the treatment of this currently incurable disease.
Kewen Hu, Kun Li, Jing Lv, Jie Feng, Jing Chen, Haigang Wu, Feixiong Cheng, Wenhao Jiang, Jieqiong Wang, Haixiang Pei, Paul J. Chiao, Zhenyu Cai, Yihua Chen, Mingyao Liu, Xiufeng Pang
Few therapies are currently available for patients with KRAS-driven cancers, highlighting the need to identify new molecular targets that modulate central downstream effector pathways. Here we found the miRNA cluster mir181ab1 as a key modulator of KRAS-driven oncogenesis. Ablation of Mir181ab1 in genetically-engineered mouse models of Kras-driven lung and pancreatic cancer was deleterious to tumor initiation and progression. Expression of both resident miRNAs in the Mir181ab1 cluster, miR181a1 and miR181b1, was necessary to rescue the Mir181ab1-loss phenotype underscoring their non-redundant role. In human cancer cells, depletion of miR181ab1 impaired proliferation and 3D growth, whereas overexpression provided a proliferative advantage. Lastly, we unveiled miR181ab1-regulated genes responsible for this phenotype. These studies identified what we believe to be a previously unknown role for miR181ab1 as a potential therapeutic target in two highly aggressive and difficult to treat KRAS-mutated cancers.
Karmele Valencia, Oihane Erice, Kaja Kostyrko, Simone Hausmann, Elizabeth Guruceaga, Anuradha Thathireddy, Natasha M. Flores, Leanne C. Sayles, Alex G. Lee, Rita Fragoso, Tian-Qiang Sun, Adrian Vallejo, Marta Roman, Rodrigo Entrialgo-Cadierno, Itziar Migueliz, Nerea Razquin, Puri Fortes, Fernando Lecanda, Jun Lu, Mariano Ponz-Sarvise, Chang-Zheng Chen, Pawel K. Mazur, E. Alejandro Sweet-Cordero, Silvestre Vicent