Resistance to immunotherapy is one of the biggest problems of current oncotherapeutics. WhileT cell abundance is essential for tumor responsiveness to immunotherapy, factors that define the T cell inflamed tumor microenvironment are not fully understood. We conducted an unbiased approach to identify tumor-intrinsic mechanisms shaping the immune tumor microenvironment(TME), focusing on pancreatic adenocarcinoma because it is refractory to immunotherapy and excludes T cells from the TME. From human tumors, we identified EPHA2 as a candidate tumor intrinsic driver of immunosuppression. Epha2 deletion reversed T cell exclusion and sensitized tumors to immunotherapy. We found that PTGS2, the gene encoding cyclooxygenase-2, lies downstream of EPHA2 signaling through TGFβ and is associated with poor patient survival. Ptgs2 deletion reversed T cell exclusion and sensitized tumors to immunotherapy; pharmacological inhibition of PTGS2 was similarly effective. Thus, EPHA2-PTGS2 signaling in tumor cells regulates tumor immune phenotypes; blockade may represent a novel therapeutic avenue for immunotherapy-refractory cancers. Our findings warrant clinical trials testing the effectiveness of therapies combining EPHA2-TGFβ-PTGS2 pathway inhibitors with anti-tumor immunotherapy, and may change the treatment of notoriously therapy-resistant pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
Nune Markosyan, Jinyang Li, Yu H. Sun, Lee P. Richman, Jeffrey H. Lin, Fangxue Yan, Liz Quinones, Yogev Sela, Taiji Yamazoe, Naomi Gordon, John W. Tobias, Katelyn T. Byrne, Andrew J. Rech, Garret A. FitzGerald, Ben Z. Stanger, Robert H. Vonderheide
Poroma is a benign skin tumor exhibiting terminal sweat gland duct differentiation. The present study aimed to explore the potential role of gene fusions in the tumorigenesis of poromas. RNA sequencing and reverse transcription PCR identified highly recurrent YAP1-MAML2 and YAP1-NUTM1 fusions in poromas (92/104 lesions, 88.5%) and their rare malignant counterpart, porocarcinomas (7/11 lesions, 63.6%). A WWTR1-NUTM1 fusion was identified in a single lesion of poroma. Fluorescent in-situ hybridization confirmed genomic rearrangements involving these genetic loci. Immunohistochemical staining could readily identify the YAP1 fusion products as nuclear expression of the N-terminal portion of YAP1 with a lack of the C-terminal portion. YAP1 and WWTR1, also known as YAP and TAZ, respectively, encode paralogous transcriptional activators of TEAD, which are negatively regulated by the Hippo signaling pathway. The YAP1 and WWTR1 fusions strongly transactivated a TEAD reporter and promoted anchorage-independent growth, confirming their tumorigenic roles. Our results demonstrate the frequent presence of transforming YAP1 fusions in poromas and porocarcinomas and suggest YAP1/TEAD-dependent transcription as a candidate therapeutic target against porocarcinoma.
Shigeki Sekine, Tohru Kiyono, Eijitsu Ryo, Reiko Ogawa, Susumu Wakai, Hitoshi Ichikawa, Koyu Suzuki, Satoru Arai, Koji Tsuta, Mitsuaki Ishida, Yuko Sasajima, Naoki Goshima, Naoya Yamazaki, Taisuke Mori
Gliomas account for approximately 80% of primary malignant tumors in the central nervous system. Despite aggressive therapy, the prognosis of patients remains extremely poor. Glioma stem cells (GSCs) which considered as the potential target of therapy for their crucial role in therapeutic resistance and tumor recurrence, are believed to be key factors for the disappointing outcome. Here, we took advantage of GSCs as the cell model to perform high-throughput drug screening and the old antibiotic, clofoctol, was identified as the most effective compound, showing reduction of colony-formation and induction of apoptosis of GSCs. Moreover, growth of tumors was inhibited obviously in vivo after clofoctol treatment especially in primary patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) and transgenic xenografts. The anticancer mechanisms demonstrated by analyzing related downstream genes and discovering the targeted binding protein revealed that clofoctol exhibited the inhibition of GSCs by upregulation of Kruppel-like factor 13 (KLF13), a tumor suppressor gene, through clofoctol’s targeted binding protein, Upstream of N-ras (UNR). Collectively, these data demonstrated that induction of KLF13 expression suppressed growth of gliomas and provided a potential therapy for gliomas targeting GSCs. Importantly, our results also identified the RNA-binding protein UNR as a drug target.
Yan Hu, Meilian Zhang, Ningyu Tian, Dengke Li, Fan Wu, Peishan Hu, Zhixing Wang, Liping Wang, Wei Hao, Jingting Kang, Bin Yin, Zhi Zheng, Tao Jiang, Jiangang Yuan, Boqin Qiang, Wei Han, Xiaozhong Peng
The presence of tumor-infiltrating T cells is associated with favorable patient outcomes, yet most pancreatic cancers are immunologically silent and resistant to currently available immunotherapies. Here we show using a syngeneic orthotopic implantation model of pancreatic cancer that Pik3ca regulates tumor immunogenicity. Genetic silencing of Pik3ca in KrasG12D/Trp53R172H-driven pancreatic tumors resulted in infiltration of T cells, complete tumor regression, and 100% survival of immunocompetent host mice. By contrast, Pik3ca-null tumors implanted in T cell-deficient mice progressed and killed all of the animals. Adoptive transfer of tumor antigen-experienced T cells eliminated Pik3ca-null tumors in immunodeficient mice. Loss of PIK3CA or inhibition of its effector, AKT, increased the expression of MHC Class I and CD80 on tumor cells. These changes contributed to the increased susceptibility of Pik3ca-null tumors to T cell surveillance. Our results indicate that tumor cell PIK3CA-AKT signaling limits T cell recognition and clearance of pancreatic cancer cells. Strategies that target this pathway may yield an effective immunotherapy for this cancer.
Nithya Sivaram, Patrick A. McLaughlin, Han V. Han, Oleksi Petrenko, Ya-Ping Jiang, Lisa M. Ballou, Kien Pham, Chen Liu, Adrianus W.M. van der Velden, Richard Z. Lin
Oncolytic virotherapy has been proposed as an ablative and immunostimulatory treatment strategy for solid tumors that are resistant to immunotherapy alone; however, there is a need to optimize host immune activation using preclinical immunocompetent models in previously untested common adult tumors. We studied a modified oncolytic myxoma virus (MYXV) that shows high efficiency for tumor-specific cytotoxicity in small-cell lung cancer (SCLC), a neuroendocrine carcinoma with high mortality and modest response rates to immune checkpoint inhibitors. Using an immunocompetent SCLC mouse model, we demonstrated the safety of intrapulmonary MYXV delivery with efficient tumor-specific viral replication and cytotoxicity associated with induction of immune cell infiltration. We observed increased SCLC survival following intrapulmonary MYXV that was enhanced by combined low-dose cisplatin. We also tested intratumoral MYXV delivery and observed immune cell infiltration associated with tumor necrosis and growth inhibition in syngeneic murine allograft tumors. Freshly collected primary human SCLC tumor cells were permissive to MYXV and intratumoral delivery into patient-derived xenografts resulted in extensive tumor necrosis. We confirmed MYXV cytotoxicity in classic and variant SCLC subtypes as well as cisplatin-resistant cells. Data from 26 SCLC human patients showed negligible immune cell infiltration, supporting testing MYXV as an ablative and immune-enhancing therapy.
Patrick Kellish, Daniil Shabashvili, Masmudur M. Rahman, Akbar Nawab, Maria V. Guijarro, Min Zhang, Chunxia Cao, Nissin Moussatche, Theresa Boyle, Scott Antonia, Mary Reinhard, Connor Hartzell, Michael Jantz, Hiren J. Mehta, Grant McFadden, Frederic J. Kaye, Maria Zajac-Kaye
The mesenchymal (MES) subtype of glioblastoma (GBM) stem cells (GSCs) represents a subpopulation of cancer cells that are notorious for their highly aggressive nature and resistance to conventional therapy. Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1A3 (ALDH1A3) has been recently suggested as a key determinant for the maintenance of MES features of GSCs. However, the mechanisms underpinning aberrant ALDH1A3 expression remain elusive. Here, we identified ubiquitin-specific protease 9X (USP9X) as a bona fide deubiquitinase of ALDH1A3 in MES GSCs. USP9X interacted with, depolyubiquitylated, and stabilized ALDH1A3. Moreover, we showed that FACS-sorted USP9Xhi cells were enriched for MES GSCs with high ALDH1A3 activity and potent tumorigenic capacity. Depletion of USP9X markedly downregulated ALDH1A3, resulting in a loss of self-renewal and tumorigenic capacity of MES GSCs, which could be largely rescued by ectopic expression of ALDH1A3. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the USP9X inhibitor WP1130 induced ALDH1A3 degradation and showed marked therapeutic efficacy in MES GSC–derived orthotopic xenograft models. Additionally, USP9X strongly correlated with ALDH1A3 expression in primary human GBM samples and had a prognostic value for patients with the MES subgroup. Collectively, our findings unveil USP9X as a key deubiquitinase for ALDH1A3 protein stabilization and a potential target for GSC-directed therapy.
Zhengxin Chen, Hong-Wei Wang, Shuai Wang, Ligang Fan, Shuang Feng, Xiaomin Cai, Chenghao Peng, Xiaoting Wu, Jiacheng Lu, Dan Chen, Yuanyuan Chen, Wenting Wu, Daru Lu, Ning Liu, Yongping You, Huibo Wang
Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) are emerging as attractive drug targets by virtue of their prevalence in various diseases including cancer. Drug development targeting IDPs is challenging because they have dynamical structure features and conventional drug design is not applicable. NUPR1 is an IDP playing an important role in pancreatic cancer. We previously reported that Trifluoperazine (TFP), an antipsychotic agent, was capable of binding to NUPR1 and inhibiting tumors growth. Unfortunately, TFP showed strong central nervous system side-effects. In this work, we undertook a multidisciplinary approach to optimize TFP, based on the synergy of computer modeling, chemical synthesis, and a variety of biophysical, biochemical and biological evaluations. A family of TFP-derived compounds was produced and the most active one, named ZZW-115, showed a dose-dependent tumor regression with no neurological effects and induced cell death mainly by necroptosis. This study opens a new perspective for drug development against IDPs, demonstrating the possibility of successful ligand-based drug design for such challenging targets.
Patricia Santofimia-Castaño, Yi Xia, Wenjun Lan, Zhengwei Zhou, Can Huang, Ling Peng, Philippe Soubeyran, Adrian Velazquez-Campoy, Olga Abian, Bruno Rizzuti, Jose L. Neira, Juan Iovanna
BACKGROUND. African American (AA) patients have higher cancer mortality rates and shorter survival times compared to European American (EA) patients. Despite a significant focus on socioeconomic factors, recent findings strongly argue the existence of biological factors driving this disparity. Most of these factors have been described in a cancer-type specific context rather than a pan-cancer setting. METHODS. A novel in silico approach based on Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) coupled to Transcription Factor enrichment was carried out to identify common biological drivers of pan-cancer racial disparity using The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) dataset. Mitochondrial content in patient tissues was examined using a multi-cancer tissue microarray approach (TMA). RESULTS. Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation was uniquely enriched in AA tumors compared to EA tumors across various cancer types. AA tumors also showed strong enrichment for the ERR1-PGC1α-mediated transcriptional program, which has been implicated in mitochondrial biogenesis. TMA analysis revealed that AA cancers harbor significantly more mitochondria compared to their EA counterparts. CONCLUSIONS. These findings highlight changes in mitochondria as a common distinguishing feature between AA and EA tumors in a pan-cancer setting, and provide the rationale for the repurposing of mitochondrial inhibitors to treat AA cancers.
Danthasinghe Waduge Badrajee Piyarathna, Akhila Balasubramanian, James M. Arnold, Stacy M. Lloyd, Balasubramanyam Karanam, Patricia Castro, Michael M. Ittmann, Nagireddy Putluri, Nora Navone, Jeffrey A. Jones, Wendong Yu, Vlad C. Sandulache, Andrew G. Sikora, George Michailidis, Arun Sreekumar
Rationale Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes are widely associated with positive outcomes, yet carry key indicators of a systemic failed immune response against unresolved cancer. Cancer immunotherapies can reverse their tolerance phenotypes, while preserving tumor-reactivity and neoantigen-specificity shared with circulating immune cells. Objectives We performed comprehensive transcriptomic analyses to identify gene signatures common to circulating and tumor infiltrating lymphocytes in the context of clear cell renal cell carcinoma. Modulated genes also associated with disease outcome were validated in other cancer types. Findings Using bioinformatics, we identified practical diagnostic markers and actionable targets of the failed immune response. On circulating lymphocytes, three genes, LEF1, FASLG, and MMP9, could efficiently stratify patients from healthy control donors. From their associations with resistance to cancer immunotherapies and microbial infections, we uncovered not only pan-cancer, but pan-pathology failed immune response profiles. A prominent lymphocytic matrix metallopeptidase cell migration pathway, is central to a panoply of diseases and tumor immunogenicity, correlates with multi-cancer recurrence, and identifies a feasible, non-invasive approach to pan-pathology diagnoses. Conclusions The non-invasive differently expressed genes we have identified warrant future investigation towards the development of their potential in precision diagnostics and precision pan-disease immunotherapeutics.
Anne Monette, Antigoni Morou, Nadia A. Al-Banna, Louise Rousseau, Jean-Baptiste Lattouf, Sara Rahmati, Tomas Tokar, Jean-Pierre Routy, Jean-Francois Cailhier, Daniel E. Kaufmann, Igor Jurisica, Rejean Lapointe
Because metastasis is associated with the majority of cancer-related deaths, its prevention is a clinical aspiration. Prostanoids are a large family of bioactive lipids derived from the activity of cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and COX-2. Aspirin impairs the biosynthesis of all prostanoids through the irreversible inhibition of both COX isoforms. Long-term administration of aspirin leads to reduced distant metastases in murine models and clinical trials, but the COX isoform, downstream prostanoid, and cell compartment responsible for this effect are yet to be determined. Here, we have shown that aspirin dramatically reduced lung metastasis through inhibition of COX-1 while the cancer cells remained intravascular and that inhibition of platelet COX-1 alone was sufficient to impair metastasis. Thromboxane A2 (TXA2) was the prostanoid product of COX-1 responsible for this antimetastatic effect. Inhibition of the COX-1/TXA2 pathway in platelets decreased aggregation of platelets on tumor cells, endothelial activation, tumor cell adhesion to the endothelium, and recruitment of metastasis-promoting monocytes/macrophages, and diminished the formation of a premetastatic niche. Thus, platelet-derived TXA2 orchestrates the generation of a favorable intravascular metastatic niche that promotes tumor cell seeding and identifies COX-1/TXA2 signaling as a target for the prevention of metastasis.
Serena Lucotti, Camilla Cerutti, Magali Soyer, Ana M. Gil-Bernabé, Ana L. Gomes, Philip D. Allen, Sean Smart, Bostjan Markelc, Karla Watson, Paul C. Armstrong, Jane A. Mitchell, Timothy D. Warner, Anne J. Ridley, Ruth J. Muschel