In contrast to the well-studied classic MAPKs, such as ERK1/2, little is known concerning the regulation and substrates of the atypical MAPK ERK3 signaling cascade and its function in cancer progression. Here, we report that ERK3 interacted with and phosphorylated steroid receptor coactivator 3 (SRC-3), an oncogenic protein overexpressed in multiple human cancers at serine 857 (S857). This ERK3-mediated phosphorylation at S857 was essential for interaction of SRC-3 with the ETS transcription factor PEA3, which promotes upregulation of MMP gene expression and proinvasive activity in lung cancer cells. Importantly, knockdown of ERK3 or SRC-3 inhibited the ability of lung cancer cells to invade and form tumors in the lung in a xenograft mouse model. In addition, ERK3 was found to be highly upregulated in human lung carcinomas. Our study identifies a previously unknown role for ERK3 in promoting lung cancer cell invasiveness by phosphorylating SRC-3 and regulating SRC-3 proinvasive activity by site-specific phosphorylation. As such, ERK3 protein kinase may be an attractive target for therapeutic treatment of invasive lung cancer.
Weiwen Long, Charles E. Foulds, Jun Qin, Jian Liu, Chen Ding, David M. Lonard, Luisa M. Solis, Ignacio I. Wistuba, Jun Qin, Sophia Y. Tsai, Ming-Jer Tsai, Bert W. O’Malley
Cooperativity between oncogenic mutations is recognized as a fundamental feature of malignant transformation, and it may be mediated by synergistic regulation of the expression of pro- and antitumorigenic target genes. However, the mechanisms by which oncogenes and tumor suppressors coregulate downstream targets and pathways remain largely unknown. Here, we used ChIP coupled to massively parallel sequencing (ChIP-seq) and gene expression profiling in mouse prostates to identify direct targets of the tumor suppressor Nkx3.1. Further analysis indicated that a substantial fraction of Nkx3.1 target genes are also direct targets of the oncoprotein Myc. We also showed that Nkx3.1 and Myc bound to and crossregulated shared target genes in mouse and human prostate epithelial cells and that Nkx3.1 could oppose the transcriptional activity of Myc. Furthermore, loss of Nkx3.1 cooperated with concurrent overexpression of Myc to promote prostate cancer in transgenic mice. In human prostate cancer patients, dysregulation of shared NKX3.1/MYC target genes was associated with disease relapse. Our results indicate that NKX3.1 and MYC coregulate prostate tumorigenesis by converging on, and crossregulating, a common set of target genes. We propose that coregulation of target gene expression by oncogenic/tumor suppressor transcription factors may represent a general mechanism underlying the cooperativity of oncogenic mutations during tumorigenesis.
Philip D. Anderson, Sydika A. McKissic, Monica Logan, Meejeon Roh, Omar E. Franco, Jie Wang, Irina Doubinskaia, Riet van der Meer, Simon W. Hayward, Christine M. Eischen, Isam-Eldin Eltoum, Sarki A. Abdulkadir
Cancer development, progression, and metastasis are highly dependent on angiogenesis. The use of antiangiogenic drugs has been proposed as a novel strategy to interfere with tumor growth, but cancer cells respond by developing strategies to escape these treatments. In particular, animal models show that antiangiogenic drugs currently used in clinical settings reduce tumor tissue oxygenation and trigger molecular events that foster cancer resistance to therapy. Here, we show that semaphorin 3A (Sema3A) expression overcomes the proinvasive and prometastatic resistance observed upon angiogenesis reduction by the small-molecule tyrosine inhibitor sunitinib in both pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) in RIP-Tag2 mice and cervical carcinomas in HPV16/E2 mice. By improving cancer tissue oxygenation and extending the normalization window, Sema3A counteracted sunitinib-induced activation of HIF-1α, Met tyrosine kinase receptor, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and other hypoxia-dependent signaling pathways. Sema3A also reduced tumor hypoxia and halted cancer dissemination induced by DC101, a specific inhibitor of the VEGF pathway. As a result, reexpressing Sema3A in cancer cells converts metastatic PNETs and cervical carcinomas into benign lesions. We therefore suggest that this strategy could be developed to safely harnesses the therapeutic potential of the antiangiogenic treatment.
Federica Maione, Stefania Capano, Donatella Regano, Lorena Zentilin, Mauro Giacca, Oriol Casanovas, Federico Bussolino, Guido Serini, Enrico Giraudo
Retinoblastoma is a pediatric cancer that has served as a paradigm for tumor suppressor gene function. Retinoblastoma is initiated by RB gene mutations, but the subsequent cooperating mutational events leading to tumorigenesis are poorly characterized. We investigated what these additional genomic alterations might be using human retinoblastoma samples and mouse models. Array-based comparative genomic hybridization studies revealed deletions in the CDKN2A locus that include ARF and P16INK4A, both of which encode tumor suppressor proteins, in both human and mouse retinoblastoma. Through mouse genetic analyses, we found that Arf was the critical tumor suppressor gene in the deleted region. In mice, inactivation of one allele of Arf cooperated with Rb and p107 loss to rapidly accelerate retinoblastoma, with frequent loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the Arf locus. Arf has been reported to exhibit p53-independent tumor suppressor roles in other systems; however, our results showed no additive effect of p53 and Arf coinactivation in promoting retinoblastoma. Moreover, p53 inactivation completely eliminated any selection for Arf LOH. Thus, our data reveal important insights into the p53 pathway in retinoblastoma and show that Arf is a key collaborator with Rb in retinoblastoma suppression.
Karina Conkrite, Maggie Sundby, David Mu, Shizuo Mukai, David MacPherson
Most cases of pancreatic cancer are not diagnosed until they are no longer curable with surgery. Therefore, it is critical to develop a sensitive, preferably noninvasive, method for detecting the disease at an earlier stage. In order to identify biomarkers for pancreatic cancer, we devised an in vitro positive/negative selection strategy to identify RNA ligands (aptamers) that could detect structural differences between the secretomes of pancreatic cancer and non-cancerous cells. Using this molecular recognition approach, we identified an aptamer (M9-5) that differentially bound conditioned media from cancerous and non-cancerous human pancreatic cell lines. This aptamer further discriminated between the sera of pancreatic cancer patients and healthy volunteers with high sensitivity and specificity. We utilized biochemical purification methods and mass-spectrometric analysis to identify the M9-5 target as cyclophilin B (CypB). This molecular recognition–based strategy simultaneously identified CypB as a serum biomarker and generated a new reagent to recognize it in body fluids. Moreover, this approach should be generalizable to other diseases and complementary to traditional approaches that focus on differences in expression level between samples. Finally, we suggest that the aptamer we identified has the potential to serve as a tool for the early detection of pancreatic cancer.
Partha Ray, Kristy L. Rialon-Guevara, Emanuela Veras, Bruce A. Sullenger, Rebekah R. White
Dysregulation of canonical Wnt signaling is thought to play a role in colon carcinogenesis. β-Catenin, a key mediator of the pathway, is stabilized upon Wnt activation and accumulates in the nucleus, where it can interact with the transcription factor T cell factor (TCF) to transactivate gene expression. Normal colonic epithelia express a truncated TCF-1 form, called dnTCF-1, that lacks the critical β-catenin–binding domain and behaves as a transcriptional suppressor. How the cell maintains a balance between the two forms of TCF-1 is unclear. Here, we show that ERM-binding phosphoprotein 50 (EBP50) modulates the interaction between β-catenin and TCF-1. We observed EBP50 localization to the nucleus of human colorectal carcinoma cell lines at low cell culture densities and human primary colorectal tumors that manifested a poor clinical outcome. In contrast, EBP50 was primarily membranous in confluent cell lines. Aberrantly located EBP50 stabilized conventional β-catenin/TCF-1 complexes and connected β-catenin to dnTCF-1 to form a ternary molecular complex that enhanced Wnt/β-catenin signaling events, including the transcription of downstream oncogenes such as c-Myc and cyclin D1. Genome-wide analysis of the EBP50 occupancy pattern revealed consensus binding motifs bearing similarity to Wnt-responsive element. Conventional chromatin immunoprecipitation assays confirmed that EBP50 bound to genomic regions highly enriched with TCF/LEF binding motifs. Knockdown of EBP50 in human colorectal carcinoma cell lines compromised cell cycle progression, anchorage-independent growth, and tumorigenesis in nude mice. We therefore suggest that nuclear EBP50 facilitates colon tumorigenesis by modulating the interaction between β-catenin and TCF-1.
Yu-Yu Lin, Yung-Ho Hsu, Hsin-Yi Huang, Yih-Jyh Shann, Chi-Ying F. Huang, Shu-Chen Wei, Chi-Ling Chen, Tzuu-Shuh Jou
An association between lymph node metastasis and poor prognosis in breast cancer was observed decades ago. However, the mechanisms by which tumor cells infiltrate the lymphatic system are not completely understood. Recently, it has been proposed that the lymphatic system has an active role in metastatic dissemination and that tumor-secreted growth factors stimulate lymphangiogenesis. We therefore investigated whether SIX1, a homeodomain-containing transcription factor previously associated in breast cancer with lymph node positivity, was involved in lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic metastasis. In a model in which human breast cancer cells were injected into immune-compromised mice, we found that SIX1 expression promoted peritumoral and intratumoral lymphangiogenesis, lymphatic invasion, and distant metastasis of breast cancer cells. SIX1 induced transcription of the prolymphangiogenic factor VEGF-C, and this was required for lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic metastasis. Using a mouse mammary carcinoma model, we found that VEGF-C was not sufficient to mediate all the metastatic effects of SIX1, indicating that SIX1 acts through additional, VEGF-C–independent pathways. Finally, we verified the clinical significance of this prometastatic SIX1/VEGF-C axis by demonstrating coexpression of SIX1 and VEGF-C in human breast cancer. These data define a critical role for SIX1 in lymphatic dissemination of breast cancer cells, providing a direct mechanistic explanation for how VEGF-C expression is upregulated in breast cancer, resulting in lymphangiogenesis and metastasis.
Chu-An Wang, Paul Jedlicka, Aaron N. Patrick, Douglas S. Micalizzi, Kimberly C. Lemmer, Erin Deitsch, Matias Casás-Selves, J. Chuck Harrell, Heide L. Ford
Patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) — defined by lack of estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor expression as well as lack of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) amplification — have a poor prognosis. There is a need for targeted therapies to treat this condition. TNBCs frequently harbor mutations in TP53, resulting in loss of the G1 checkpoint and reliance on checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1) to arrest cells in response to DNA damage. Previous studies have shown that inhibition of Chk1 in a p53-deficient background in response to DNA damage. We therefore tested whether inhibition of Chk1 could potentiate the cytotoxicity of the DNA damaging agent irinotecan in TNBC using xenotransplant tumor models. Tumor specimens from patients with TNBC were engrafted into humanized mammary fat pads of immunodeficient mice to create 3 independent human-in-mouse TNBC lines: 1 WT (WU-BC3) and 2 mutant for TP53 (WU-BC4 and WU-BC5). These lines were tested for their response to irinotecan and a Chk1 inhibitor (either UCN-01 or AZD7762), either as single agents or in combination. The combination therapy induced checkpoint bypass and apoptosis in WU-BC4 and WU-BC5, but not WU-BC3, tumors. Moreover, combination therapy inhibited tumor growth and prolonged survival of mice bearing the WU-BC4 line, but not the WU-BC3 line. In addition, knockdown of p53 sensitized WU-BC3 tumors to the combination therapy. These results demonstrate that p53 is a major determinant of how TNBCs respond to therapies that combine DNA damage with Chk1 inhibition.
Cynthia X. Ma, Shirong Cai, Shunqiang Li, Christine E. Ryan, Zhanfang Guo, W. Timothy Schaiff, Li Lin, Jeremy Hoog, Reece J. Goiffon, Aleix Prat, Rebecca L. Aft, Matthew J. Ellis, Helen Piwnica-Worms
The cytokine IL-12 induces IFN-γ production by T and NK cells. In preclinical models, it contributes to antitumor immunity. However, in clinical testing, it has shown limited benefit in patients with any one of a variety of malignancies. Moreover, in a clinical trial testing a combination of IL-12 and rituximab in patients with follicular B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (FL), those treated with IL-12 showed a lower response rate, suggesting that IL-12 actually plays a detrimental role. Here, we investigated whether the failure of IL-12 treatment for FL was due to T cell exhaustion, a condition characterized by reduced T cell differentiation, proliferation, and function, which has been observed in chronic viral infection. We found that extended exposure to IL-12 induced T cell exhaustion and contributed to the poor prognosis in FL patients. Long-term exposure of freshly isolated human CD4+ T cells to IL-12 in vitro caused T cell dysfunction and induced expression of TIM-3, a T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain protein with a known role in T cell exhaustion, via an IFN-γ–independent mechanism. TIM-3 was required for the negative effect of IL-12 on T cell function. Importantly, TIM-3 also was highly expressed on intratumoral T cells that displayed marked functional impairment. Our findings identify IL-12– and TIM-3–mediated exhaustion of T cells as a mechanism for poor clinical outcome when IL-12 is administered to FL patients.
Zhi-Zhang Yang, Deanna M. Grote, Steven C. Ziesmer, Toshiro Niki, Mitsuomi Hirashima, Anne J. Novak, Thomas E. Witzig, Stephen M. Ansell
Breast cancers are highly heterogeneous but can be grouped into subtypes based on several criteria, including level of expression of certain markers. Claudin-low breast cancer (CLBC) is associated with early metastasis and resistance to chemotherapy, while gene profiling indicates it is characterized by the expression of markers of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) — a phenotypic conversion linked with metastasis. Although the epigenetic program controlling the phenotypic and cellular plasticity of EMT remains unclear, one contributor may be methylation of the E-cadherin promoter, resulting in decreased E-cadherin expression, a hallmark of EMT. Indeed, reduced E-cadherin often occurs in CLBC and may contribute to the early metastasis and poor patient survival associated with this disease. Here, we have determined that methylation of histone H3 on lysine 9 (H3K9me2) is critical for promoter DNA methylation of E-cadherin in three TGF-β–induced EMT model cell lines, as well as in CLBC cell lines. Further, Snail interacted with G9a, a major euchromatin methyltransferase responsible for H3K9me2, and recruited G9a and DNA methyltransferases to the E-cadherin promoter for DNA methylation. Knockdown of G9a restored E-cadherin expression by suppressing H3K9me2 and blocking DNA methylation. This resulted in inhibition of cell migration and invasion in vitro and suppression of tumor growth and lung colonization in in vivo models of CLBC metastasis. Our study not only reveals a critical mechanism underlying the epigenetic regulation of EMT but also paves a way for the development of new treatment strategies for CLBC.
Chenfang Dong, Yadi Wu, Jun Yao, Yifan Wang, Yinhua Yu, Piotr G. Rychahou, B. Mark Evers, Binhua P. Zhou