Eya proteins are critical developmental regulators that are highly expressed in embryogenesis but downregulated after development. Amplification and/or re-expression of Eyas occurs in many tumor types. In breast cancer, Eyas regulate tumor progression by acting as transcriptional cofactors and tyrosine phosphatases. Intriguingly, Eyas harbor a separate threonine (Thr) phosphatase activity, which was previously implicated in innate immunity. Here we describe what we believe to be a novel role for Eya3 in mediating triple-negative breast cancer–associated immune suppression. Eya3 loss decreases tumor growth in immune-competent mice and is associated with increased numbers of infiltrated CD8+ T cells, which, when depleted, reverse the effects of Eya3 knockdown. Mechanistically, Eya3 utilizes its Thr phosphatase activity to dephosphorylate Myc at pT58, resulting in a stabilized form. We show that Myc is required for Eya3-mediated increases in PD-L1, and that rescue of PD-L1 in Eya3-knockdown cells restores tumor progression. Finally, we demonstrate that Eya3 significantly correlates with PD-L1 in human breast tumors, and that tumors expressing high levels of Eya3 have a decreased CD8+ T cell signature. Our data uncover a role for Eya3 in mediating tumor-associated immune suppression, and suggest that its inhibition may enhance checkpoint therapies.
Rebecca L. Vartuli, Hengbo Zhou, Lingdi Zhang, Rani K. Powers, Jared Klarquist, Pratyaydipta Rudra, Melanie Y. Vincent, Debashis Ghosh, James C. Costello, Ross M. Kedl, Jill E. Slansky, Rui Zhao, Heide L. Ford
Notch 1/2 genes play tumor-suppressing functions in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a very common malignancy in skin and internal organs. In contrast with Notch, we show that the transcription factor CSL (also known as RBP-Jκ), a key effector of canonical Notch signaling endowed with intrinsic transcription-repressive functions, plays a tumor-promoting function in SCC development. Expression of this gene decreased in upper epidermal layers and human keratinocytes (HKCs) undergoing differentiation, while it increased in premalignant and malignant SCC lesions from skin, head/neck, and lung. Increased CSL levels enhanced the proliferative potential of HKCs and SCC cells, while silencing of CSL induced growth arrest and apoptosis. In vivo, SCC cells with increased CSL levels gave rise to rapidly expanding tumors, while cells with silenced CSL formed smaller and more differentiated tumors with enhanced inflammatory infiltrate. Global transcriptomic analysis of HKCs and SCC cells with silenced CSL revealed major modulation of apoptotic, cell-cycle, and proinflammatory genes. We also show that the histone demethylase KDM6B is a direct CSL-negative target, with inverse roles of CSL in HKC and SCC proliferative capacity, tumorigenesis, and tumor-associated inflammatory reaction. CSL/KDM6B protein expression could be used as a biomarker of SCC development and indicator of cancer treatment.
Dania Al Labban, Seung-Hee Jo, Paola Ostano, Chiara Saglietti, Massimo Bongiovanni, Renato Panizzon, G. Paolo Dotto
Kaposi’s sarcoma–associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a gammaherpesvirus that is the etiological agent of the endothelial cell cancer Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) and 2 B cell lymphoproliferative disorders, primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) and multicentric Castleman’s disease (MCD). KSHV ORF36, also known as viral protein kinase (vPK), is a viral serine/threonine kinase. We previously reported that KSHV vPK enhances cell proliferation and mimics cellular S6 kinase to phosphorylate ribosomal protein S6, a protein involved in protein synthesis. We created a mouse model to analyze the function of vPK in vivo. We believe this is the first mouse tumor model of a viral kinase encoded by a pathogenic human virus. We observed increased B cell activation in the vPK transgenic mice compared with normal mice. We also found that, over time, vPK transgenic mice developed a B cell hyperproliferative disorder and/or a high-grade B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma at a greatly increased incidence compared with littermate controls. This mouse model shows that a viral protein kinase is capable of promoting B cell activation and proliferation as well as augmenting lymphomagenesis in vivo and may therefore contribute to the development of viral cancers.
Penny M. Anders, Nathan D. Montgomery, Stephanie A. Montgomery, Aadra P. Bhatt, Dirk P. Dittmer, Blossom Damania
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a heterogeneous disease with poor prognosis that lacks targeted therapies, especially in patients with chemotherapy-resistant disease. Since DNA methylation-induced silencing of tumor suppressors is common in cancer, reversal of promoter DNA hypermethylation by 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (decitabine), an FDA-approved DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) inhibitor, has proven effective in treating hematological neoplasms. However, its antitumor effect varies in solid tumors, stressing the importance of identifying biomarkers predictive of therapeutic response. Here, we focused on the identification of biomarkers to select decitabine-sensitive TNBC through increasing our understanding of the mechanism of decitabine action. We showed that protein levels of DNMTs correlated with response to decitabine in patient-derived xenograft (PDX) organoids originating from chemotherapy-sensitive and -resistant TNBCs, suggesting DNMT levels as potential biomarkers of response. Furthermore, all 3 methytransferases, DNMT1, DNMT3A, and DNMT3B, were degraded following low-concentration, long-term decitabine treatment both in vitro and in vivo. The DNMT proteins could be ubiquitinated by the E3 ligase, TNF receptor–associated factor 6 (TRAF6), leading to lysosome-dependent protein degradation. Depletion of TRAF6 blocked decitabine-induced DNMT degradation, conferring resistance to decitabine. Our study suggests a potential mechanism of regulating DNMT protein degradation and DNMT levels as response biomarkers for DNMT inhibitors in TNBCs.
Jia Yu, Bo Qin, Ann M. Moyer, Somaira Nowsheen, Tongzheng Liu, Sisi Qin, Yongxian Zhuang, Duan Liu, Shijia W. Lu, Krishna R. Kalari, Daniel W. Visscher, John A. Copland, Sarah A. McLaughlin, Alvaro Moreno-Aspitia, Donald W. Northfelt, Richard J. Gray, Zhenkun Lou, Vera J. Suman, Richard Weinshilboum, Judy C. Boughey, Matthew P. Goetz, Liewei Wang
Immunotherapy prolongs survival in only a subset of melanoma patients, highlighting the need to better understand the driver tumor microenvironment. We conducted bioinformatic analyses of 703 transcriptomes to probe the immune landscape of primary cutaneous melanomas in a population-ascertained cohort. We identified and validated 6 immunologically distinct subgroups, with the largest having the lowest immune scores and the poorest survival. This poor-prognosis subgroup exhibited expression profiles consistent with β-catenin–mediated failure to recruit CD141+ DCs. A second subgroup displayed an equally bad prognosis when histopathological factors were adjusted for, while 4 others maintained comparable survival profiles. The 6 subgroups were replicated in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) melanomas, where β-catenin signaling was also associated with low immune scores predominantly related to hypomethylation. The survival benefit of high immune scores was strongest in patients with double-WT tumors for BRAF and NRAS, less strong in BRAF-V600 mutants, and absent in NRAS (codons 12, 13, 61) mutants. In summary, we report evidence for a β-catenin–mediated immune evasion in 42% of melanoma primaries overall and in 73% of those with the worst outcome. We further report evidence for an interaction between oncogenic mutations and host response to melanoma, suggesting that patient stratification will improve immunotherapeutic outcomes.
Jérémie Nsengimana, Jon Laye, Anastasia Filia, Sally O’Shea, Sathya Muralidhar, Joanna Poźniak, Alastair Droop, May Chan, Christy Walker, Louise Parkinson, Joanne Gascoyne, Tracey Mell, Minttu Polso, Rosalyn Jewell, Juliette Randerson-Moor, Graham P. Cook, D. Timothy Bishop, Julia Newton-Bishop
Synthetic lethality-based strategy has been developed to identify therapeutic targets in cancer harboring tumor suppressor gene mutations, as exemplified by the effectiveness of PARP inhibitors in BRCA1/2-mutated tumors. However, many synthetic lethal interactors are less reliable due to the fact that such genes usually do not perform fundamental or indispensable functions in the cell. Here we developed an approach to identify the “essential lethality” arose from these mutated/deleted essential genes, which are largely tolerated in cancer cells due to genetic redundancy. We uncovered the cohesion subunit SA1 as a putative synthetic-essential target in cancers carrying inactivating mutations of its paralog, SA2. In SA2-deficient Ewing sarcoma and bladder cancer, further depletion of SA1 profoundly and specifically suppressed cancer cell proliferation, survival and tumorigenic potential. Mechanistically, inhibition of SA1 in the SA2-mutated cells led to premature chromatid separation, dramatic extension of mitotic duration, and consequently lethal failure of cell division. More importantly, depletion of SA1 rendered those SA2-mutated cells more susceptible to DNA damage, especially double-strand breaks (DSBs), due to reduced functionality of DNA repair. Furthermore, inhibition of SA1 sensitized the SA2-deficient cancer cells to PARP inhibitors in vitro and in vivo, providing a potential therapeutic strategy for patients with SA2-deficient tumors.
Yunhua Liu, Hanchen Xu, Kevin Van der Jeught, Yujing Li, Sheng Liu, Lu Zhang, Yuanzhang Fang, Xinna Zhang, Milan Rodovich, Bryan P. Schneider, Xiaoming He, Cheng Huang, Chi Zhang, Jun Wan, Guang Ji, Xiongbin Lu
Altered epigenetic reprogramming contributes to breast cancer progression and metastasis. How the epigenetic reader mediates breast cancer progression remains poorly understood. Here, we showed that the epigenetic reader zinc finger MYND-type containing 8 (ZMYND8) is induced by HIF-1 and HIF-2 in breast cancer cells and also upregulated in human breast tumors, and is correlated with poor survival of patients with breast cancer. Genetic deletion of ZMYND8 decreases breast cancer cell colony formation, migration, and invasion in vitro, and inhibits breast tumor growth and metastasis to the lungs in mice. The ZMYND8’s oncogenic effect in breast cancer requires HIF-1 and HIF-2. We further showed that ZMYND8 interacts with HIF-1α and HIF-2α and enhances elongation of the global HIF-induced oncogenic genes by increasing recruitment of BRD4 and subsequent release of paused RNA polymerase II in breast cancer cells. ZMYND8 acetylation at lysines 1007 and 1034 by p300 is required for HIF activation and breast cancer progression and metastasis. These findings uncover a primary epigenetic mechanism of HIF activation and HIF-mediated breast cancer progression, and discover a possible molecular target for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
Yan Chen, Bo Zhang, Lei Bao, Lai Jin, Mingming Yang, Yan Peng, Ashwani Kumar, Jennifer E. Wang, Chenliang Wang, Xuan Zou, Chao Xing, Yingfei Wang, Weibo Luo
In situ cancer vaccines are under active clinical investigation due to their reported ability to eradicate both local and disseminated malignancies. Intratumoral vaccine administration is thought to activate a T cell mediated immune response, which begins in the treated tumor and cascades systemically. We describe a positron emission tomography tracer (64Cu-DOTA-AbOX40) that enabled non-invasive and longitudinal imaging of OX40, a cell surface marker of T cell activation. We report the spatiotemporal dynamics of T cell activation following in situ vaccination with CpG oligodeoxynucleotide, in a dual tumor bearing mouse model. We demonstrate that OX40 imaging could predict tumor responses at day 9 post treatment based on tumor tracer uptake at day 2, with higher accuracy than both anatomical and blood-based measurements. These studies provide key insights into global T cell activation following local CpG treatment and indicate that 64Cu-DOTA-AbOX40 is a promising candidate for monitoring clinical cancer immunotherapy strategies.
Israt S. Alam, Aaron T. Mayer, Idit Sagiv-Barfi, Kezheng Wang, Ophir Vermesh, Debra K. Czerwinski, Emily M. Johnson, Michelle L. James, Ronald Levy, Sanjiv S. Gambhir
Neurofibromatosis type 1 associates with multiple neoplasms and the Schwann cell tumor neurofibroma is the most prevalent. A hallmark feature of neurofibroma is mast cell infiltration which is recruited by chemoattractant stem cell factor (SCF) that has been suggested to sustain neurofibroma tumorigenesis. In this study, using new genetically engineered Scf mice, we decipher the contributions of tumor-derived SCF and mast cells to neurofibroma development. We demonstrate that mast cell infiltration is dependent on SCF from tumor Schwann cells. However, removal of mast cells by depleting this main SCF source only slightly affects neurofibroma progression. Other inflammation signatures show that all neurofibromas are associated with high levels of macrophages regardless of Scf status. These findings suggest an active inflammation in neurofibromas and partly explain why mast cell removal alone is not sufficient to relieve tumor burden in this experimental neurofibroma model. Furthermore, we show that plexiform neurofibromas are highly associated with injury-prone spinal nerves that are close to flexible vertebras. In summary, our study details the role of inflammation in neurofibromagenesis. These data paired with the observed tumor locations indicate that prevention of inflammation, and possibly nerve injury, are therapeutic approaches for neurofibroma prophylaxis and treatment that should be explored.
Chung-Ping Liao, Reid C. Booker, Jean-Philippe Brosseau, Zhiguo Chen, Juan Mo, Edem Tchegnon, Yong Wang, D. Wade Clapp, Lu Q. Le
Single cancer cell sequencing studies currently use randomly-selected cells, limiting correlations between genomic aberrations, morphology and spatial localization. We laser-captured microdissected single cells from morphologically-distinct areas of primary breast cancer and corresponding lymph node metastasis and performed whole-exome or deep-target sequencing of greater than 100 such cells. Two major subclones co-existed in different areas of the primary tumor, and the lymph node metastasis originated from a minor subclone in the invasive front of the primary tumor with additional copy number changes including 8q gain, but no additional point mutations in driver genes. Lack of metastasis-specific driver events lead us to assess whether other clonal and subclonal genomic aberrations pre-existing in primary tumors contribute to lymph node metastasis. Gene mutations and copy number variations analyzed in five breast cancer tissue sample sets revealed that copy number variations in several genomic regions, including areas within chromosome 1p, 8q, 9p, 12q and 20q, harboring several metastasis-associated genes, were consistently associated with lymph node metastasis. Moreover, clonal expansion was observed in an area of morphologically-normal breast epithelia, likely driven by a driver mutation and a subsequent amplification in chromosome 1q. Our study illuminates the molecular evolution of breast cancer and genomic aberrations contributing to metastases.
Li Bao, Zhaoyang Qian, Maria B. Lyng, Ling Wang, Yuan Yu, Ting Wang, Xiuqing Zhang, Huanming Yang, Nils Brünner, Jun Wang, Henrik J. Ditzel