Immune checkpoint therapies have shown tremendous promise in cancer therapy. However, tools to assess their target engagement, and hence ability to predict their efficacy, have been lacking. Here, we show that target engagement and tumor residence kinetics of antibody therapeutics targeting the programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) can be quantified non-invasively. In computational docking studies, we observed that PD-L1-targeted antibodies (atezolizumab, avelumab, durvalumab) and a high affinity PD-L1 binding peptide, WL12, have common interaction sites on PD-L1. Using the peptide radiotracer [64Cu]WL12 in vivo, we employed positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and biodistribution studies, in multiple xenograft models and demonstrated that variable PD-L1 expression and its saturation by atezolizumab, avelumab, and durvalumab can be quantified independent of biophysical properties and pharmacokinetics of antibodies. Next, we used [64Cu]WL12 to evaluate the impact of time and dose on free fraction of tumor PD-L1 levels during treatment. These quantitative measures enabled, by mathematical modeling, prediction of antibody doses needed to achieve therapeutically effective occupancy (defined as >90%). Thus, we show that peptide-based PET is a promising tool for optimizing dose and therapeutic regimens employing PD-L1 checkpoint antibodies, and can be used for improving therapeutic efficacy.
Dhiraj Kumar, Ala Lisok, Elyes Dahmane, Matthew D. McCoy, Sagar Shelake, Samit Chatterjee, Viola Allaj, Polina Sysa-Shah, Bryan Wharram, Wojciech G. Lesniak, Ellen Tully, Edward Gabrielson, Elizabeth M. Jaffee, John T. Poirier, Charles M. Rudin, Jogarao V.S. Gobburu, Martin G. Pomper, Sridhar Nimmagadda
Macrophages perform key functions in tissue homeostasis that are influenced by the local tissue environment. Within the tumor microenvironment tumor associated macrophages can be altered to acquire properties that enhance tumor growth. Here, we found lactate, a metabolite found in high concentration within the anaerobic tumor environment, activated mTORC1 that subsequently suppressed TFEB-mediated expression of a macrophage-specific vacuolar ATPase subunit ATP6V0d2. Atp6v0d2-/- mice were more susceptible to tumor growth with enhanced HIF-2α-mediated VEGF production in macrophages that display a more protumoral phenotype. We found that ATP6V0d2 targeted HIF-2α but not HIF-1α for lysosome-mediated degradation. Blockade of HIF-2α transcriptional activity reversed the susceptibility of Atp6v0d2-/- mice to tumor development. Furthermore, in a cohort of patients with lung adenocarcinoma, expression of ATP6V0d2 and HIF-2α was positively and negatively correlated with survival respectively, suggesting a critical role of the macrophage lactate-ATP6V0d2-HIF-2α axis in maintaining tumor growth in human patients. Together, our results highlight the ability of tumor cells to modify the function of tumor-infiltrating macrophages to optimize the microenvironment for tumor growth.
Na Liu, Jing Luo, Dong Kuang, Sanpeng Xu, Yaqi Duan, Yu Xia, Zhengping Wei, Xiuxiu Xie, Bingjiao Yin, Fang Chen, Shunqun Luo, Huicheng Liu, Jing Wang, Kan Jiang, Feili Gong, Zhao-hui Tang, Xiang Cheng, Huabin Li, Zhuoya Li, Arian Laurence, Guoping Wang, Xiang-Ping Yang
The aging-associated increase of cancer risk is linked with stromal fibroblast senescence and concomitant cancer-associated fibroblast (CAF) activation. Surprisingly little is known about the role of androgen receptor (AR) signaling in this context. We have found downmodulated AR expression in dermal fibroblasts underlying premalignant skin cancer lesions (actinic keratoses and dysplastic nevi) as well as in CAFs from the 3 major skin cancer types, squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), basal cell carcinomas, and melanomas. Functionally, decreased AR expression in primary human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs) from multiple individuals induced early steps of CAF activation, and in an orthotopic skin cancer model, AR loss in HDFs enhanced tumorigenicity of SCC and melanoma cells. Forming a complex, AR converged with CSL/RBP-Jκ in transcriptional repression of key CAF effector genes. AR and CSL were positive determinants of each other’s expression, with BET inhibitors, which counteract the effects of decreased CSL, restoring AR expression and activity in CAFs. Increased AR expression in these cells overcame the consequences of CSL loss and was by itself sufficient to block the growth and tumor-enhancing effects of CAFs on neighboring cancer cells. As such, the findings establish AR as a target for stroma-focused cancer chemoprevention and treatment.
Andrea Clocchiatti, Soumitra Ghosh, Maria-Giuseppina Procopio, Luigi Mazzeo, Pino Bordignon, Paola Ostano, Sandro Goruppi, Giulia Bottoni, Atul Katarkar, Mitchell Levesque, Peter Kölblinger, Reinhard Dummer, Victor Neel, Berna C. Özdemir, G. Paolo Dotto
After the initial responsiveness of triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) to chemotherapy, they often recur as chemotherapy-resistant tumors, and this has been associated with upregulated homology-directed repair (HDR). Thus, inhibitors of HDR could be a useful adjunct to chemotherapy treatment of these cancers. We performed a high-throughput chemical screen for inhibitors of HDR from which we obtained a number of hits that disrupted microtubule dynamics. We postulated that high levels of the target molecules of our screen in tumors would correlate with poor chemotherapy response. We found that inhibition or knockdown of dynamin 2 (DNM2), known for its role in endocytic cell trafficking and microtubule dynamics, impaired HDR and improved response to chemotherapy of cells and of tumors in mice. In a retrospective analysis, levels of DNM2 at the time of treatment strongly predicted chemotherapy outcome for estrogen receptor–negative and especially for TNBC patients. We propose that DNM2-associated DNA repair enzyme trafficking is important for HDR efficiency and is a powerful predictor of sensitivity to breast cancer chemotherapy and an important target for therapy.
Sophia B. Chernikova, Rochelle B. Nguyen, Jessica T. Truong, Stephano S. Mello, Jason H. Stafford, Michael P. Hay, Andrew Olson, David E. Solow-Cordero, Douglas J. Wood, Solomon Henry, Rie von Eyben, Lei Deng, Melanie Hayden Gephart, Asaithamby Aroumougame, Claudia Wiese, John C. Game, Balázs Győrffy, J. Martin Brown
Replicative immortality is a hallmark of cancer governed by telomere maintenance. About 90% of human cancers maintain their telomeres by activating telomerase, driven by transcriptional upregulation of telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT). Although TERT promoter mutations (TPMs) are a major cancer-associated genetic mechanism of TERT upregulation, many cancers exhibit TERT upregulation without TPMs. In this study, we described TERT Hypermethylated Oncological Region (THOR), a 433-bp genomic region encompassing 52 CpG sites located immediately upstream of the TERT core promoter, as a cancer-associated epigenetic mechanism of TERT upregulation. Unmethylated THOR repressed TERT promoter activity regardless of TPMs status, and hypermethylation of THOR counteracted this repressive function. THOR methylation analysis in 1,352 human tumors revealed frequent (>45%) cancer-associated DNA hypermethylation in 9 of 11 (82%) tumor types screened. Additionally, THOR hypermethylation — either independently or along with TPMs — accounted for how approximately 90% of human cancers can aberrantly activate telomerase. Thus, we propose THOR hypermethylation as a prevalent telomerase activating mechanism in cancer that can act independently or in conjunction with TPMs, further supporting the utility of THOR hypermethylation as a prognostic biomarker.
Donghyun D. Lee, Ricardo Leão, Martin Komosa, Marco Gallo, Cindy H. Zhang, Tatiana Lipman, Marc Remke, Abolfazl Heidari, Nuno Miguel Nunes, Joana D. Apolónio, Ramon Andrade De Mello, João Dias, David Huntsman, Thomas Hermanns, Peter J. Wild, Robert Vanner, Gelareh Zadeh, Jason Karamchandani, Sunit Das, Michael D. Taylor, Cynthia E. Hawkins, Jonathan D. Wasserman, Arnaldo Figueiredo, Robert J. Hamilton, Mark D. Minden, Khalida Wani, Bill Diplas, Hai Yan, Kenneth Aldape, Mohammad R. Akbari, Arnavaz Danesh, Trevor J. Pugh, Peter B. Dirks, Pedro Castelo-Branco, Uri Tabori
Tumor-associated myeloid cells maintain immunosuppressive microenvironments within tumors. Identification of myeloid-specific receptors to modulate tumor-associated macrophage and myeloid-derived suppressor cell (MDSC) functions remains challenging. The leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptor B (LILRB) family members are negative regulators of myeloid cell activation. We investigated how LILRB targeting could modulate tumor-associated myeloid cell function. LILRB2 antagonism inhibited receptor-mediated activation of SHP1/2 and enhanced proinflammatory responses. LILRB2 antagonism also inhibited AKT and STAT6 activation in the presence of M-CSF and IL-4. Transcriptome analysis revealed that LILRB2 antagonism altered genes involved in cell cytoskeleton remodeling, lipid/cholesterol metabolism, and endosomal sorting pathways, as well as changed differentiation gene networks associated with inflammatory myeloid cells as opposed to their alternatively activated phenotype. LILRB2 blockade effectively suppressed granulocytic MDSC and Treg infiltration and significantly promoted in vivo antitumor effects of T cell immune checkpoint inhibitors. Furthermore, LILRB2 blockade polarized tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells from non–small cell lung carcinoma tumor tissues toward an inflammatory phenotype. Our studies suggest that LILRB2 can potentially act as a myeloid immune checkpoint by reprogramming tumor-associated myeloid cells and provoking antitumor immunity.
Hui-Ming Chen, William van der Touw, Yuan Shuo Wang, Kyeongah Kang, Sunny Mai, Jilu Zhang, Dayanira Alsina-Beauchamp, James A. Duty, Sathish Kumar Mungamuri, Bin Zhang, Thomas Moran, Richard Flavell, Stuart Aaronson, Hong-Ming Hu, Hisashi Arase, Suresh Ramanathan, Raja Flores, Ping-Ying Pan, Shu-Hsia Chen
BACKGROUND. Liquid biopsies have demonstrated that the constitutively active androgen receptor splice variant-7 (AR-V7) associates with reduced response and overall survival (OS) from endocrine therapies in castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). However, these studies provide little information pertaining to AR-V7 expression in prostate cancer (PC) tissue. METHODS. Following generation and validation of a novel AR-V7 antibody for immunohistochemistry, AR-V7 protein expression was determined for 358 primary prostate samples and 293 metastatic biopsies. Associations with disease progression, full length AR (AR-FL) expression, response to therapy, and gene expression was determined. RESULTS. We demonstrated that AR-V7 protein is rarely expressed (<1%) in primary PC but is frequently detected (75% of cases) following androgen deprivation therapy, with further significant (P = 0.020) increase in expression following abiraterone acetate or enzalutamide therapy. In CRPC, AR-V7 expression is predominantly (94% of cases) nuclear and correlates with AR-FL expression (P ≤ 0.001) and AR copy number (P = 0.026). However, dissociation of expression was observed suggesting mRNA splicing remains crucial for AR-V7 generation. AR-V7 expression was heterogeneous between different metastases from a patient although AR-V7 expression was similar within a metastasis. Moreover, AR-V7 expression correlated with a unique 59-gene signature in CRPC, including HOXB13, a critical co-regulator of AR-V7 function. Finally, AR-V7 negative disease associated with better PSA responses (100% vs 54%; P = 0.03) and OS (74.3 vs 25.2mo, HR 0.23 [0.07-0.79], P = 0.02) from endocrine therapies (pre-chemotherapy). CONCLUSION. This study provides impetus to develop therapies that abrogate AR-V7 signaling to improve our understanding of AR-V7 biology, and to confirm its clinical significance.
Adam Sharp, Ilsa Coleman, Wei Yuan, Cynthia Sprenger, David Dolling, Daniel Nava Rodrigues, Joshua W. Russo, Ines Figueiredo, Claudia Bertan, George Seed, Ruth Riisnaes, Takuma Uo, Antje Neeb, Jonathan Welti, Colm Morrissey, Suzanne Carreira, Jun Luo, Peter S. Nelson, Steven P. Balk, Lawrence D. True, Johann De Bono, Stephen R. Plymate
Activating mutations in the Wnt pathway drive a variety of cancers, but the specific targets and pathways activated by Wnt ligands are not fully understood. To bridge this knowledge gap, we performed a comprehensive time-course analysis of Wnt-dependent signaling pathways in an orthotopic model of Wnt-addicted pancreatic cancer, using a PORCN inhibitor currently in clinical trials, and validated key results in additional Wnt-addicted models. The temporal analysis of the drug-perturbed transcriptome demonstrated direct and indirect regulation of greater than 3,500 Wnt activated genes (23% of the transcriptome). Regulation was both via Wnt/β-catenin, and through the modulation of protein abundance of important transcription factors including MYC via Wnt/STOP. Our study identifies a central role of Wnt /β-catenin and Wnt/STOP signaling in controlling ribosomal biogenesis, a key driver of cancer proliferation.
Babita Madan, Nathan Harmston, Gahyathiri Nallan, Alex Montoya, Peter Faull, Enrico Petretto, David M. Virshup
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is particularly aggressive, with enhanced incidence of tumor relapse, resistance to chemotherapy, and metastases. As the mechanistic basis for this aggressive phenotype is unclear, treatment options are limited. Here, we showed an increased population of myeloid-derived immunosuppressor cells (MDSCs) in TNBC patients compared with non-TNBC patients. We found that high levels of the transcription factor ΔNp63 correlate with an increased number of MDSCs in basal TNBC patients, and that ΔNp63 promotes tumor growth, progression, and metastasis in human and mouse TNBC cells. Furthermore, we showed that MDSC recruitment to the primary tumor and metastatic sites occurs via direct ΔNp63-dependent activation of the chemokines CXCL2 and CCL22. CXCR2/CCR4 inhibitors reduced MDSC recruitment, angiogenesis, and metastasis, highlighting a novel treatment option for this subset of TNBC patients. Finally, we found that MDSCs secrete prometastatic factors such as MMP9 and chitinase 3–like 1 to promote TNBC cancer stem cell function, thereby identifying a nonimmunologic role for MDSCs in promoting TNBC progression. These findings identify a unique crosstalk between ΔNp63+ TNBC cells and MDSCs that promotes tumor progression and metastasis, which could be exploited in future combined immunotherapy/chemotherapy strategies for TNBC patients.
Sushil Kumar, David W. Wilkes, Nina Samuel, Mario Andres Blanco, Anupma Nayak, Kevin Alicea-Torres, Christian Gluck, Satrajit Sinha, Dmitry Gabrilovich, Rumela Chakrabarti
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is characterized by clonal proliferation and progressive accumulation of mature, B lymphocytes in the peripheral blood, lymphoid tissues and bone marrow. CLL is characterized by profound immune defects, leading to severe infectious complications. T cells are numerically, phenotypically, and functionally highly abnormal in CLL, with only limited ability to exert antitumor immune responses. Exhaustion of T cells has also been implicated as playing an important role in anti-tumor responses. The CLL-mediated T cell exhaustion is achieved by aberrant expression of several inhibitory molecules on CLL and their environment, prominently the PD-L1/PD-1 receptors. Previously, we showed that CD84, a member of the SLAM family of receptors, bridges between CLL cells and their microenvironment. In the current study, we followed CD84 regulation of T cell function. We showed that a cell-cell interaction mediated through human and mouse CD84 upregulates PDL1 expression on CLL and their microenvironment, and PD1 expression on T cells. This resulted in suppression of T cell response and activity in vitro and in vivo. Thus, our results demonstrated a role for CD84 in regulation of immune checkpoints by leukemia cells, and suggested CD84 blockade as a therapeutic strategy to reverse tumor-induced immune suppression.
Hadas Lewinsky, Avital F. Barak, Victoria Huber, Matthias P. Kramer, Lihi Radomir, Lital Sever, Irit Orr, Vita Mirkin, Nili Dezorella, Mika Shapiro, Yosef Cohen, Lev Shvidel, Martina Seiffert, Yair Herishanu, Shirly Becker-Herman, Idit Shachar