Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a small subpopulation of cancer cells that have increased resistance to conventional therapies and are capable of establishing metastasis. However, only a few biomarkers of CSCs have been identified. Here, we report that ganglioside GD2 (a glycosphingolipid) identifies a small fraction of cells in human breast cancer cell lines and patient samples that are capable of forming mammospheres and initiating tumors with as few as 10 GD2+ cells. In addition, the majority of GD2+ cells are also CD44hiCD24lo, the previously established CSC-associated cell surface phenotype. Gene expression analysis revealed that GD3 synthase (GD3S) is highly expressed in GD2+ as well as in CD44hiCD24lo cells and that interference with GD3S expression, either by shRNA or using a pharmacological inhibitor, reduced the CSC population and CSC-associated properties. GD3S knockdown completely abrogated tumor formation in vivo. Also, induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in transformed human mammary epithelial cells (HMLER cells) dramatically increased GD2 as well as GD3S expression in these cells, suggesting a role of EMT in the origin of GD2+ breast CSCs. In summary, we identified GD2 as a new CSC-specific cell surface marker and GD3S as a potential therapeutic target for CSCs, with the possibility of improving survival and cure rates in patients with breast cancer.
Venkata Lokesh Battula, Yuexi Shi, Kurt W. Evans, Rui-Yu Wang, Erika L. Spaeth, Rodrigo O. Jacamo, Rudy Guerra, Aysegul A. Sahin, Frank C. Marini, Gabriel Hortobagyi, Sendurai A. Mani, Michael Andreeff
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most prevalent malignancies resistant to current chemotherapies or radiotherapies, which makes it urgent to identify new therapeutic targets for HCC. In this study, we found that checkpoint kinase 1 (CHK1) was frequently overexpressed and correlated with poor clinical outcome in patients with HCC. We further showed that the CHK1 inhibitor GÖ6976 was capable of sensitizing HCC cells to cisplatin, indicating that CHK1 may have oncogenic function in HCC. We found that CHK1 phosphorylated the tumor suppressor spleen tyrosine kinase (L) (SYK[L]) and identified the phosphorylation site at Ser295. Furthermore, CHK1 phosphorylation of SYK(L) promoted its subsequent proteasomal degradation. Expression of a nonphosphorylated mutant of SYK(L) was more efficient at suppressing proliferation, colony formation, mobility, and tumor growth in HCC lines. Importantly, a strong inverse correlation between the expression levels of CHK1 and SYK(L) was observed in patients with HCC. Collectively, our data demonstrate that SYK(L) is a substrate of CHK1 in tumor cells and suggest that targeting the CHK1/SYK(L) pathway may be a promising strategy for treating HCC.
Jian Hong, Kaishun Hu, Yunfei Yuan, Yi Sang, Qiangui Bu, Guihua Chen, Longjun Yang, Binkui Li, Pinzhu Huang, Dongtai Chen, Yi Liang, Ruhua Zhang, Jingxuan Pan, Yi-Xin Zeng, Tiebang Kang
Vα24-invariant NKT cells inhibit tumor growth by targeting tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). Tumor progression therefore requires that TAMs evade NKT cell activity through yet-unknown mechanisms. Here we report that a subset of cells in neuroblastoma (NB) cell lines and primary tumors expresses membrane-bound TNF-α (mbTNF-α). These proinflammatory tumor cells induced production of the chemokine CCL20 from TAMs via activation of the NF-κB signaling pathway, an effect that was amplified in hypoxia. Flow cytometry analyses of human primary NB tumors revealed selective accumulation of CCL20 in TAMs. Neutralization of the chemokine inhibited in vitro migration of NKT cells toward tumor-conditioned hypoxic monocytes and localization of NKT cells to NB grafts in mice. We also found that hypoxia impaired NKT cell viability and function. Thus, CCL20-producing TAMs served as a hypoxic trap for tumor-infiltrating NKT cells. IL-15 protected antigen-activated NKT cells from hypoxia, and transgenic expression of IL-15 in adoptively transferred NKT cells dramatically enhanced their antimetastatic activity in mice. Thus, tumor-induced chemokine production in hypoxic TAMs and consequent chemoattraction and inhibition of NKT cells represents a mechanism of immune escape that can be reversed by adoptive immunotherapy with IL-15–transduced NKT cells.
Daofeng Liu, Liping Song, Jie Wei, Amy N. Courtney, Xiuhua Gao, Ekaterina Marinova, Linjie Guo, Andras Heczey, Shahab Asgharzadeh, Eugene Kim, Gianpietro Dotti, Leonid S. Metelitsa
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has the lowest survival rate of all cancers and shows remarkable resistance to cell stress. Nuclear protein 1 (Nupr1), which mediates stress response in the pancreas, is frequently upregulated in pancreatic cancer. Here, we report that Nupr1 plays an essential role in pancreatic tumorigenesis. In a mouse model of pancreatic cancer with constitutively expressed oncogenic KrasG12D, we found that loss of Nupr1 protected from the development of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias (PanINs). Further, in cultured pancreatic cells, nutrient deprivation activated Nupr1 expression, which we found to be required for cell survival. We found that Nupr1 protected cells from stress-induced death by inhibiting apoptosis through a pathway dependent on transcription factor RelB and immediate early response 3 (IER3). NUPR1, RELB, and IER3 proteins were coexpressed in mouse PanINs from KrasG12D-expressing pancreas. Moreover, pancreas-specific deletion of Relb in a KrasG12D background resulted in delayed in PanIN development associated with a lack of IER3 expression. Thus, efficient PanIN formation was dependent on the expression of Nupr1 and Relb, with likely involvement of IER3. Finally, in patients with PDAC, expression of NUPR1, RELB, and IER3 was significantly correlated with a poor prognosis. Cumulatively, these results reveal a NUPR1/RELB/IER3 stress-related pathway that is required for oncogenic KrasG12D-dependent transformation of the pancreas.
Tewfik Hamidi, Hana Algül, Carla Eliana Cano, Maria José Sandi, Maria Inés Molejon, Marc Riemann, Ezequiel Luis Calvo, Gwen Lomberk, Jean-Charles Dagorn, Falk Weih, Raul Urrutia, Roland Michael Schmid, Juan Lucio Iovanna
PAX5, a B cell–specific transcription factor, is overexpressed through chromosomal translocations in a subset of B cell lymphomas. Previously, we had shown that activation of immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif (ITAM) proteins and B cell receptor (BCR) signaling by PAX5 contributes to B-lymphomagenesis. However, the effect of PAX5 on other oncogenic transcription factor-controlled pathways is unknown. Using a MYC-induced murine lymphoma model as well as MYC-transformed human B cell lines, we found that PAX5 controls c-MYC protein stability and steady-state levels. This promoter-independent, posttranslational mechanism of c-MYC regulation was independent of ITAM/BCR activity. Instead it was controlled by another PAX5 target, CD19, through the PI3K-AKT-GSK3β axis. Consequently, MYC levels in B cells from CD19-deficient mice were sharply reduced. Conversely, reexpression of CD19 in murine lymphomas with spontaneous silencing of PAX5 boosted MYC levels, expression of its key target genes, cell proliferation in vitro, and overall tumor growth in vivo. In human B-lymphomas, CD19 mRNA levels were found to correlate with those of MYC-activated genes. They also negatively correlated with the overall survival of patients with lymphoma in the same way that MYC levels do. Thus, CD19 is a major BCR-independent regulator of MYC-driven neoplastic growth in B cell neoplasms.
Elaine Y. Chung, James N. Psathas, Duonan Yu, Yimei Li, Mitchell J. Weiss, Andrei Thomas-Tikhonenko
Prostate cancer (PCa) is a major lethal malignancy in men, but the molecular events and their interplay underlying prostate carcinogenesis remain poorly understood. Epigenetic events and the upregulation of polycomb group silencing proteins including Bmi1 have been described to occur during PCa progression. Here, we found that conditional overexpression of Bmi1 in mice induced prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, and elicited invasive adenocarcinoma when combined with PTEN haploinsufficiency. In addition, Bmi1 and the PI3K/Akt pathway were coactivated in a substantial fraction of human high-grade tumors. We found that Akt mediated Bmi1 phosphorylation, enhancing its oncogenic potential in an Ink4a/Arf-independent manner. This process also modulated the DNA damage response and affected genomic stability. Together, our findings demonstrate the etiological role of Bmi1 in PCa, unravel an oncogenic collaboration between Bmi1 and the PI3K/Akt pathway, and provide mechanistic insights into the modulation of Bmi1 function by phosphorylation during prostate carcinogenesis.
Karim Nacerddine, Jean-Bernard Beaudry, Vasudeva Ginjala, Bart Westerman, Francesca Mattiroli, Ji-Ying Song, Henk van der Poel, Olga Balagué Ponz, Colin Pritchard, Paulien Cornelissen-Steijger, John Zevenhoven, Ellen Tanger, Titia K. Sixma, Shridar Ganesan, Maarten van Lohuizen
Malignant progression in cancer requires populations of tumor-initiating cells (TICs) endowed with unlimited self renewal, survival under stress, and establishment of distant metastases. Additionally, the acquisition of invasive properties driven by epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is critical for the evolution of neoplastic cells into fully metastatic populations. Here, we characterize 2 human cellular models derived from prostate and bladder cancer cell lines to better understand the relationship between TIC and EMT programs in local invasiveness and distant metastasis. The model tumor subpopulations that expressed a strong epithelial gene program were enriched in highly metastatic TICs, while a second subpopulation with stable mesenchymal traits was impoverished in TICs. Constitutive overexpression of the transcription factor Snai1 in the epithelial/TIC-enriched populations engaged a mesenchymal gene program and suppressed their self renewal and metastatic phenotypes. Conversely, knockdown of EMT factors in the mesenchymal-like prostate cancer cell subpopulation caused a gain in epithelial features and properties of TICs. Both tumor cell subpopulations cooperated so that the nonmetastatic mesenchymal-like prostate cancer subpopulation enhanced the in vitro invasiveness of the metastatic epithelial subpopulation and, in vivo, promoted the escape of the latter from primary implantation sites and accelerated their metastatic colonization. Our models provide new insights into how dynamic interactions among epithelial, self-renewal, and mesenchymal gene programs determine the plasticity of epithelial TICs.
Toni Celià-Terrassa, Óscar Meca-Cortés, Francesca Mateo, Alexia Martínez de Paz, Nuria Rubio, Anna Arnal-Estapé, Brian J. Ell, Raquel Bermudo, Alba Díaz, Marta Guerra-Rebollo, Juan José Lozano, Conchi Estarás, Catalina Ulloa, Daniel ρlvarez-Simón, Jordi Milà, Ramón Vilella, Rosanna Paciucci, Marian Martínez-Balbás, Antonio García de Herreros, Roger R. Gomis, Yibin Kang, Jerónimo Blanco, Pedro L. Fernández, Timothy M. Thomson
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