Programmed death-1–directed (PD-1–directed) immune checkpoint blockade results in durable antitumor activity in many advanced malignancies. Recent studies suggest that IFN-γ is a critical driver of programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) expression in cancer and host cells, and baseline intratumoral T cell infiltration may improve response likelihood to anti–PD-1 therapies, including pembrolizumab. However, whether quantifying T cell–inflamed microenvironment is a useful pan-tumor determinant of PD-1–directed therapy response has not been rigorously evaluated. Here, we analyzed gene expression profiles (GEPs) using RNA from baseline tumor samples of pembrolizumab-treated patients. We identified immune-related signatures correlating with clinical benefit using a learn-and-confirm paradigm based on data from different clinical studies of pembrolizumab, starting with a small pilot of 19 melanoma patients and eventually defining a pan-tumor T cell–inflamed GEP in 220 patients with 9 cancers. Predictive value was independently confirmed and compared with that of PD-L1 immunohistochemistry in 96 patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The T cell–inflamed GEP contained IFN-γ–responsive genes related to antigen presentation, chemokine expression, cytotoxic activity, and adaptive immune resistance, and these features were necessary, but not always sufficient, for clinical benefit. The T cell–inflamed GEP has been developed into a clinical-grade assay that is currently being evaluated in ongoing pembrolizumab trials.
Mark Ayers, Jared Lunceford, Michael Nebozhyn, Erin Murphy, Andrey Loboda, David R. Kaufman, Andrew Albright, Jonathan D. Cheng, S. Peter Kang, Veena Shankaran, Sarina A. Piha-Paul, Jennifer Yearley, Tanguy Y. Seiwert, Antoni Ribas, Terrill K. McClanahan
NK cells are highly efficient at preventing cancer metastasis but are infrequently found in the core of primary tumors. Here, have we demonstrated that freshly isolated mouse and human NK cells express low levels of the endo-β-D-glucuronidase heparanase that increase upon NK cell activation. Heparanase deficiency did not affect development, differentiation, or tissue localization of NK cells under steady-state conditions. However, mice lacking heparanase specifically in NK cells (
Eva M. Putz, Alyce J. Mayfosh, Kevin Kos, Deborah S. Barkauskas, Kyohei Nakamura, Liam Town, Katharine J. Goodall, Dean Y. Yee, Ivan K.H. Poon, Nikola Baschuk, Fernando Souza-Fonseca-Guimaraes, Mark D. Hulett, Mark J. Smyth
Runt-related transcription factor 1 (RUNX1) is generally considered to function as a tumor suppressor in the development of leukemia, but a growing body of evidence suggests that it has pro-oncogenic properties in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Here we have demonstrated that the antileukemic effect mediated by RUNX1 depletion is highly dependent on a functional p53-mediated cell death pathway. Increased expression of other RUNX family members, including RUNX2 and RUNX3, compensated for the antitumor effect elicited by RUNX1 silencing, and simultaneous attenuation of all RUNX family members as a cluster led to a much stronger antitumor effect relative to suppression of individual RUNX members. Switching off the RUNX cluster using alkylating agent–conjugated pyrrole-imidazole (PI) polyamides, which were designed to specifically bind to consensus RUNX-binding sequences, was highly effective against AML cells and against several poor-prognosis solid tumors in a xenograft mouse model of AML without notable adverse events. Taken together, these results identify a crucial role for the RUNX cluster in the maintenance and progression of cancer cells and suggest that modulation of the RUNX cluster using the PI polyamide gene-switch technology is a potential strategy to control malignancies.
Ken Morita, Kensho Suzuki, Shintaro Maeda, Akihiko Matsuo, Yoshihide Mitsuda, Chieko Tokushige, Gengo Kashiwazaki, Junichi Taniguchi, Rina Maeda, Mina Noura, Masahiro Hirata, Tatsuki Kataoka, Ayaka Yano, Yoshimi Yamada, Hiroki Kiyose, Mayu Tokumasu, Hidemasa Matsuo, Sunao Tanaka, Yasushi Okuno, Manabu Muto, Kazuhito Naka, Kosei Ito, Toshio Kitamura, Yasufumi Kaneda, Paul P. Liu, Toshikazu Bando, Souichi Adachi, Hiroshi Sugiyama, Yasuhiko Kamikubo
Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) is a largely incurable malignancy of B cell origin with plasmacytic differentiation. Here, we report the identification of a highly effective inhibitor of PEL. This compound, 6-ethylthioinosine (6-ETI), is a nucleoside analog with toxicity to PEL in vitro and in vivo, but not to other lymphoma cell lines tested. We developed and performed resistome analysis, an unbiased approach based on RNA sequencing of resistant subclones, to discover the molecular mechanisms of sensitivity. We found different adenosine kinase–inactivating (ADK-inactivating) alterations in all resistant clones and determined that ADK is required to phosphorylate and activate 6-ETI. Further, we observed that 6-ETI induces ATP depletion and cell death accompanied by S phase arrest and DNA damage only in ADK-expressing cells. Immunohistochemistry for ADK served as a biomarker approach to identify 6-ETI–sensitive tumors, which we documented for other lymphoid malignancies with plasmacytic features. Notably, multiple myeloma (MM) expresses high levels of ADK, and 6-ETI was toxic to MM cell lines and primary specimens and had a robust antitumor effect in a disseminated MM mouse model. Several nucleoside analogs are effective in treating leukemias and T cell lymphomas, and 6-ETI may fill this niche for the treatment of PEL, plasmablastic lymphoma, MM, and other ADK-expressing cancers.
Utthara Nayar, Jouliana Sadek, Jonathan Reichel, Denise Hernandez-Hopkins, Gunkut Akar, Peter J. Barelli, Michelle A. Sahai, Hufeng Zhou, Jennifer Totonchy, David Jayabalan, Ruben Niesvizky, Ilaria Guasparri, Duane Hassane, Yifang Liu, Shizuko Sei, Robert H. Shoemaker, J. David Warren, Olivier Elemento, Kenneth M. Kaye, Ethel Cesarman
Targeted cancer therapies, which act on specific cancer-associated molecular targets, are predominantly inhibitors of oncogenic kinases. While these drugs have achieved some clinical success, the inactivation of kinase signaling via stimulation of endogenous phosphatases has received minimal attention as an alternative targeted approach. Here, we have demonstrated that activation of the tumor suppressor protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), a negative regulator of multiple oncogenic signaling proteins, is a promising therapeutic approach for the treatment of cancers. Our group previously developed a series of orally bioavailable small molecule activators of PP2A, termed SMAPs. We now report that SMAP treatment inhibited the growth of KRAS-mutant lung cancers in mouse xenografts and transgenic models. Mechanistically, we found that SMAPs act by binding to the PP2A Aα scaffold subunit to drive conformational changes in PP2A. These results show that PP2A can be activated in cancer cells to inhibit proliferation. Our strategy of reactivating endogenous PP2A may be applicable to the treatment of other diseases and represents an advancement toward the development of small molecule activators of tumor suppressor proteins.
Jaya Sangodkar, Abbey Perl, Rita Tohme, Janna Kiselar, David B. Kastrinsky, Nilesh Zaware, Sudeh Izadmehr, Sahar Mazhar, Danica D. Wiredja, Caitlin M. O’Connor, Divya Hoon, Neil S. Dhawan, Daniela Schlatzer, Shen Yao, Daniel Leonard, Alain C. Borczuk, Giridharan Gokulrangan, Lifu Wang, Elena Svenson, Caroline C. Farrington, Eric Yuan, Rita A. Avelar, Agnes Stachnik, Blake Smith, Vickram Gidwani, Heather M. Giannini, Daniel McQuaid, Kimberly McClinch, Zhizhi Wang, Alice C. Levine, Rosalie C. Sears, Edward Y. Chen, Qiaonan Duan, Manish Datt, Shozeb Haider, Avi Ma’ayan, Analisa DiFeo, Neelesh Sharma, Matthew D. Galsky, David L. Brautigan, Yiannis A. Ioannou, Wenqing Xu, Mark R. Chance, Michael Ohlmeyer, Goutham Narla
Tumor recurrence is the leading cause of breast cancer–related death. Recurrences are largely driven by cancer cells that survive therapeutic intervention. This poorly understood population is referred to as minimal residual disease. Here, using mouse models that faithfully recapitulate human disease together with organoid cultures, we have demonstrated that residual cells acquire a transcriptionally distinct state from normal epithelium and primary tumors. Gene expression changes and functional characterization revealed altered lipid metabolism and elevated ROS as hallmarks of the cells that survive tumor regression. These residual cells exhibited increased oxidative DNA damage, potentiating the acquisition of somatic mutations during hormonal-induced expansion of the mammary cell population. Inhibition of either cellular fatty acid synthesis or fatty acid transport into mitochondria reduced cellular ROS levels and DNA damage, linking these features to lipid metabolism. Direct perturbation of these hallmarks in vivo, either by scavenging ROS or by halting the cyclic mammary cell population expansion, attenuated tumor recurrence. Finally, these observations were mirrored in transcriptomic and histological signatures of residual cancer cells from neoadjuvant-treated breast cancer patients. These results highlight the potential of lipid metabolism and ROS as therapeutic targets for reducing tumor recurrence in breast cancer patients.
Kristina M. Havas, Vladislava Milchevskaya, Ksenija Radic, Ashna Alladin, Eleni Kafkia, Marta Garcia, Jens Stolte, Bernd Klaus, Nicole Rotmensz, Toby J. Gibson, Barbara Burwinkel, Andreas Schneeweiss, Giancarlo Pruneri, Kiran R. Patil, Rocio Sotillo, Martin Jechlinger
Identification and functional validation of oncogenic drivers are essential steps toward advancing cancer precision medicine. Here, we have presented a comprehensive analysis of the somatic genomic landscape of the widely used BRAFV600E- and NRASQ61K-driven mouse models of melanoma. By integrating the data with publically available genomic, epigenomic, and transcriptomic information from human clinical samples, we confirmed the importance of several genes and pathways previously implicated in human melanoma, including the tumor-suppressor genes phosphatase and tensin homolog (
Michael Olvedy, Julie C. Tisserand, Flavie Luciani, Bram Boeckx, Jasper Wouters, Sophie Lopez, Florian Rambow, Sara Aibar, Bernard Thienpont, Jasmine Barra, Corinna Köhler, Enrico Radaelli, Sophie Tartare-Deckert, Stein Aerts, Patrice Dubreuil, Joost J. van den Oord, Diether Lambrechts, Paulo De Sepulveda, Jean-Christophe Marine
Geminin expression is essential for embryonic development and the maintenance of chromosomal integrity. In spite of this protective role, geminin is also frequently overexpressed in human cancers and the molecular mechanisms underlying its role in tumor progression remain unclear. The histone deacetylase HDAC3 modulates transcription factors to activate or suppress transcription. Little is known about how HDAC3 specifies substrates for modulation among highly homologous transcription factor family members. Here, we have demonstrated that geminin selectively couples the transcription factor forkhead box O3 (FoxO3) to HDAC3, thereby specifically facilitating FoxO3 deacetylation. We determined that geminin–associated HDAC3 deacetylates FoxO3 to block its transcriptional activity, leading to downregulation of the downstream FoxO3 target Dicer, an RNase that suppresses metastasis. Breast cancer cells depleted of geminin or HDAC3 exhibited poor metastatic potential that was attributed to reduced suppression of the FoxO3-Dicer axis. Moreover, elevated levels of geminin, HDAC3, or both together with decreased FoxO3 acetylation and reduced Dicer expression were detected in aggressive human breast cancer specimens. These results underscore a prominent role for geminin in promoting breast cancer metastasis via the enzyme-substrate–coupling mechanism in HDAC3-FoxO3 complex formation.
Lei Zhang, Meizhen Cai, Zhicheng Gong, Bingchang Zhang, Yuanpei Li, Li Guan, Xiaonan Hou, Qing Li, Gang Liu, Zengfu Xue, Muh-hua Yang, Jing Ye, Y. Eugene Chin, Han You
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is almost uniformly fatal; however, some improvement in overall survival has been achieved with the introduction of nanocarriers that deliver irinotecan or paclitaxel. Although it is generally assumed that nanocarriers rely principally on abnormal leaky vasculature for tumor access, a transcytosis transport pathway that is regulated by neuropilin-1 (NRP-1) has recently been reported. NRP-1–mediated transport can be triggered by the cyclic tumor-penetrating peptide iRGD. In a KRAS-induced orthotopic PDAC model, coadministration of iRGD enhanced the uptake of an irinotecan-loaded silicasome carrier that comprises lipid bilayer–coated mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNPs); this uptake resulted in enhanced survival and markedly reduced metastasis. Further, ultrastructural imaging of the treated tumors revealed that iRGD coadministration induced a vesicular transport pathway that carried Au-labeled silicacomes from the blood vessel lumen to a perinuclear site within cancer cells. iRGD-mediated enhancement of silicasome uptake was also observed in patient-derived xenografts, commensurate with the level of NRP-1 expression on tumor blood vessels. These results demonstrate that iRGD enhances the efficacy of irinotecan-loaded silicasome–based therapy and may be a suitable adjuvant in nanoparticle-based treatments for PDAC.
Xiangsheng Liu, Paulina Lin, Ian Perrett, Joshua Lin, Yu-Pei Liao, Chong Hyun Chang, Jinhong Jiang, Nanping Wu, Timothy Donahue, Zev Wainberg, Andre E. Nel, Huan Meng
Tumors are capable of coopting hematopoietic cells to create a suitable microenvironment to support malignant growth. Here, we have demonstrated that upregulation of kinase insert domain receptor (KDR), also known as VEGFR2, in a myeloid cell sublineage is necessary for malignant progression of gliomas in transgenic murine models and is associated with high-grade tumors in patients. KDR expression increased in myeloid cells as myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) accumulated, which was associated with the transformation and progression of low-grade fibrillary astrocytoma to high-grade anaplastic gliomas. KDR deficiency in murine BM-derived cells (BMDCs) suppressed the differentiation of myeloid lineages and reduced granulocytic/monocytic populations. The depletion of myeloid-derived KDR compromised its proangiogenic function, which inhibited the angiogenic switch necessary for malignant progression of low-grade to high-grade tumors. We also identified inhibitor of DNA binding protein 2 (ID2) as a key upstream regulator of KDR activation during myeloid differentiation. Deficiency of ID2 in BMDCs led to downregulation of KDR, suppression of proangiogenic myeloid cells, and prevention of low-grade to high-grade transition. Tumor-secreted TGF-β and granulocyte-macrophage CSF (GM-CSF) enhanced the KDR/ID2 signaling axis in BMDCs. Our results suggest that modulation of KDR/ID2 signaling may restrict tumor-associated myeloid cells and could potentially be a therapeutic strategy for preventing transformation of premalignant gliomas.
Yujie Huang, Prajwal Rajappa, Wenhuo Hu, Caitlin Hoffman, Babacar Cisse, Joon-Hyung Kim, Emilie Gorge, Rachel Yanowitch, William Cope, Emma Vartanian, Raymond Xu, Tuo Zhang, David Pisapia, Jenny Xiang, Jason Huse, Irina Matei, Hector Peinado, Jacqueline Bromberg, Eric Holland, Bi-sen Ding, Shahin Rafii, David Lyden, Jeffrey Greenfield