Tumors depend on a blood supply to deliver oxygen and nutrients, making tumor vasculature an attractive anti-cancer target. However, only a fraction of cancer patients benefits from angiogenesis inhibitors. Whether anti-angiogenic therapy would be more effective if targeted to individuals with specific tumor characteristics is unknown. To better characterize the tumor vascular environment both within and between cancer types, we developed a standardized metric – the Endothelial Index (EI) – to estimate vascular density in over 10,000 human tumors, corresponding to 31 solid tumor types, from transcriptome data. We then used this index to compare hyper- and hypo-vascular tumors, enabling the classification of human tumors into six vascular microenvironment signatures (VMSs) based on the expression of a panel of 24 vascular hub genes. EI and VMS correlated with known tumor vascular features and were independently associated with prognosis in certain cancer types. Retrospective testing of clinical trial data identified VMS2 classification as a powerful biomarker for response to bevacizumab. Our studies thus provide an unbiased picture of human tumor vasculature which may enable more precise deployment of anti-angiogenesis therapy.
Benjamin M. Kahn, Alfredo Lucas, Rohan Alur, Maximilian D. Wengyn, Gregory W. Schwartz, Jinyang Li, Kathryn Sun, H. Carlo Maurer, Kenneth P. Olive, Robert B. Faryabi, Ben Stanger
The tumor microenvironment affects the outcome of radiotherapy against head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). We recently found that tolerogenic myeloid cells accumulate in circulation of HNSCC patients undergoing radiotherapy. Here, we analyzed tumor-containing lymph nodes biopsies collected from these patients. After two-weeks of radiotherapy, we found an increase in tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) with activated STAT3, while CD8 T-cells were reduced as detected using multiplex IHC. Gene expression profiling indicated upregulation of M2 macrophage-related genes (CD163, CD206), immunosuppressive mediators (ARG1, LIF, TGFB1) and Th2 cytokines (IL4, IL5) in irradiated tumors. We next validated STAT3 as a potential target in human HNSCC-associated TAMs, using UM-SCC1 xenotransplants in humanized mice. Local injections of myeloid cell-targeted STAT3 antisense oligonucleotide (CpG-STAT3ASO) activated human DCs/macrophages, promoted CD8 T-cell recruitment and thereby arrested UM-SCC1 tumor growth. Furthermore, CpG-STAT3ASO synergized with tumor irradiation against syngeneic HPV+ mEERL and HPV– MOC2 HNSCC tumors in mice, triggering tumor regression and/or extending animal survival. The antitumor immune responses were CD8+ and CD4+ T-cell-dependent and associated with the activation of antigen-presenting cells (DCs/M1 macrophages) and increased CD8+ to regulatory T-cell ratio. Our observations suggest that targeted inhibition of STAT3 in tumor-associated myeloid cells augments the efficacy of radiotherapy against HNSCC.
Dayson Moreira, Sagus Sampath, Haejung Won, Seok Voon White, Yu-Lin Su, Marice Alcantara, Chongkai Wang, Peter P. Lee, Ellie Maghami, Erminia Massarelli, Marcin Kortylewski
Resistance to oncogene-targeted therapies involves discrete drug-tolerant persister cells, originally discovered through in vitro assays. Whether a similar phenomenon limits efficacy of programmed death (PD)-1 blockade is poorly understood. Here, we performed dynamic single-cell RNA sequencing of murine organotypic tumor spheroids undergoing PD-1 blockade, identifying a discrete sub-population of immunotherapy persister cells (IPCs) that resisted CD8 T-cell mediated killing. These cells expressed Snai1 and stem cell antigen-1 (Sca-1), and exhibited hybrid epithelial-mesenchymal features characteristic of a stem cell-like state. IPCs were expanded by interleukin-6 (IL-6) but were vulnerable to tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α)-induced cytotoxicity, relying on Birc2 and Birc3 as survival factors. Combining PD-1 blockade with Birc2/3 antagonism in mice reduced IPCs and enhanced tumor cell killing in vivo, resulting in durable responsiveness that matched TNF cytotoxicity thresholds in vitro. Together, these data demonstrate the power of high-resolution functional ex vivo profiling to uncover fundamental mechanisms of immune escape from durable anti-PD-1 responses, while identifying IPCs as a cancer cell subpopulation targetable by specific therapeutic combinations.
Kartik Sehgal, Andrew J. Portell, Elena V. Ivanova, Patrick H. Lizotte, Navin R. Mahadevan, Jonathan R. Greene, Amir Vajdi, Carino Gurjao, Tyler Teceno, Luke J. Taus, Tran C. Thai, Shunsuke Kitajima, Derek Liu, Tetsuo Tani, Moataz Noureddine, Christie J. Lau, Paul T. Kirschmeier, David Liu, Marios Giannakis, Russell W. Jenkins, Prafulla C. Gokhale, Silvia Goldoni, Maria Pinzon-Ortiz, William D. Hastings, Peter Hammerman, Juan J. Miret, Cloud P. Paweletz, David A. Barbie
Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a common tumor predisposition syndrome, caused by NF1 gene mutation, in which affected patients develop Schwann cell lineage peripheral nerve sheath tumors (neurofibromas). To investigate human neurofibroma pathogenesis, we differentiated a series of isogenic patient-specific NF1-mutant human induced-pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) into Schwannian lineage cells (SLCs). We found that while wild-type and heterozygous NF1-mutant hiPSC-SLCs did not form tumors following mouse sciatic nerve implantation, NF1-null SLCs formed bona fide neurofibromas with high levels of SOX10 expression. To confirm that SOX10+ SLCs contain the cells of origin for neurofibromas, both Nf1 alleles were inactivated in mouse Sox10+ cells, leading to classic nodular cutaneous and plexiform neurofibroma formation that completely recapitulate their human counterparts. Moreover, we discovered that NF1 loss impaired Schwann cell differentiation by inducing a persistent stem-like state to expand the pool of progenitors required to initiate tumor formation, indicating that in addition to regulating MAPK-mediated cell growth, NF1 loss also alters Schwann cell differentiation to promote neurofibroma development. Taken together, we established complementary humanized neurofibroma explant and first-in-kind mouse genetically engineered nodular cutaneous neurofibroma models that delineate neurofibroma pathogenesis amenable to future therapeutic target discovery and evaluation.
Juan Mo, Corina Anastasaki, Zhiguo Chen, Tracey Shipman, Jason B. Papke, Kevin Y. Yin, David H. Gutmann, Lu Q. Le
MYC stimulates both metabolism and protein synthesis, but it is unknown how cells coordinate these complementary programs. Previous work reported that in a subset of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines, MYC activates guanosine triphosphate (GTP) synthesis and results in sensitivity to inhibitors of the GTP synthesis enzyme inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH). Here we demonstrated that primary MYCHigh human SCLC tumors also contain abundant guanosine nucleotides. We also found that elevated MYC in SCLCs with acquired chemoresistance rendered these otherwise recalcitrant tumors dependent on IMPDH. Unexpectedly, our data indicated that IMPDH links the metabolic and protein synthesis outputs of oncogenic MYC. Co-expression analysis placed IMPDH within the MYC-driven ribosome program, and GTP depletion prevented RNA Polymerase I (Pol I) from localizing to ribosomal DNA. Furthermore, the GTPases GPN1 and GPN3 were upregulated by MYC and directed Pol I to ribosomal DNA. Constitutively GTP-bound GPN1/3 mutants mitigated the effect of GTP depletion on Pol I, protecting chemoresistant SCLC cells from IMPDH inhibition. GTP therefore functions as a metabolic gate tethering MYC-dependent ribosome biogenesis to nucleotide sufficiency through GPN1 and GPN3. IMPDH dependence is a targetable vulnerability in chemoresistant, MYCHigh SCLC.
Fang Huang, Kenneth Huffman, Zixi Wang, Xun Wang, Kailong Li, Feng Cai, Chendong Yang, Ling Cai, Terry S. Shih, Lauren G. Zacharias, Andrew S. Chung, Qian Yang, Milind D. Chalishazar, Abbie S. Ireland, C. Allison Stewart, Kasey R. Cargill, Luc Girard, Yi Liu, Min Ni, Jian Xu, Xudong Wu, Hao Zhu, Benjamin J. Drapkin, Lauren A. Byers, Trudy G. Oliver, Adi Gazdar, John Minna, Ralph DeBerardinis
Mutations in the core RNA splicing factor SF3B1 are prevalent in leukemias and uveal melanoma but hotspot SF3B1 mutations are also seen in epithelial malignancies such as breast cancer. Although hotspot mutations in SF3B1 alter hematopoietic differentiation, whether SF3B1 mutations contribute to epithelial cancer development and progression is unknown. Here, we identify that SF3B1 mutations in mammary epithelial and breast cancer cells induce a recurrent pattern of aberrant splicing leading to activation of AKT and NF-kB, enhanced cell migration, and accelerated tumorigenesis. Transcriptomic analysis of human cancer specimens, MMTV-cre Sf3b1K700E/WT mice, and isogenic mutant cell lines identified hundreds of aberrant 3’ splice sites (3’ss) induced by mutant SF3B1. Consistently between mouse and human tumors, mutant SF3B1 promoted aberrant splicing (dependent on aberrant branchpoints as well as pyrimidines downstream of the cryptic 3’ss) and consequent suppression of PPP2R5A and MAP3K7, critical negative regulators of AKT and NF-kB. Coordinate activation of NF-kB and AKT signaling was observed in the knock-in models, leading to accelerated cell migration and tumor development in combination with mutant PIK3CA but also hypersensitizing cells to AKT kinase inhibitors. These data identify hotspot mutations in SF3B1 as an important contributor to breast tumorigenesis and reveal unique vulnerabilities in cancers harboring them.
Bo Liu, Zhaoqi Liu, Sisi Chen, Michelle Ki, Caroline Erickson, Jorge S. Reis-Filho, Benjamin H. Durham, Qing Chang, Elisa de Stanchina, Yiwei Sun, Raul Rabadan, Omar Abdel-Wahab, Sarat Chandarlapaty
BACKGROUND Therapeutic vaccinations against cancer have mainly targeted differentiation antigens, cancer-testis antigens, and overexpressed antigens and have thus far resulted in little clinical benefit. Studies conducted by multiple groups have demonstrated that T cells recognizing neoantigens are present in most cancers and offer a specific and highly immunogenic target for personalized vaccination.METHODS We recently developed a process using tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes to identify the specific immunogenic mutations expressed in patients’ tumors. Here, validated, defined neoantigens, predicted neoepitopes, and mutations of driver genes were concatenated into a single mRNA construct to vaccinate patients with metastatic gastrointestinal cancer.RESULTS The vaccine was safe and elicited mutation-specific T cell responses against predicted neoepitopes not detected before vaccination. Furthermore, we were able to isolate and verify T cell receptors targeting KRASG12D mutation. We observed no objective clinical responses in the 4 patients treated in this trial.CONCLUSION This vaccine was safe, and potential future combination of such vaccines with checkpoint inhibitors or adoptive T cell therapy should be evaluated for possible clinical benefit in patients with common epithelial cancers.TRIAL REGISTRATION Phase I/II protocol (NCT03480152) was approved by the IRB committee of the NIH and the FDA.FUNDING Center for Clinical Research, NCI, NIH.
Gal Cafri, Jared J. Gartner, Tal Zaks, Kristen Hopson, Noam Levin, Biman C. Paria, Maria R. Parkhurst, Rami Yossef, Frank J. Lowery, Mohammad S. Jafferji, Todd D. Prickett, Stephanie L. Goff, Christine T. McGowan, Samantha Seitter, Mackenzie L. Shindorf, Anup Parikh, Praveen D. Chatani, Paul F. Robbins, Steven A. Rosenberg
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) heterogeneity causes a greater number of deaths than any other brain tumor, despite the availability of alkylating chemotherapy. GBM stem-like cells (GSCs) contribute to GBM complexity and chemoresistance, but it remains challenging to identify and target GSCs or factors that control their activity. Here, we identified a specific GSC subset and show that activity of these cells is positively regulated by stabilization of methyl CpG binding domain 3 (MBD3) protein. MBD3 binds to CK1A and to BTRCP E3 ubiquitin ligase, triggering MBD3 degradation, suggesting that modulating this circuit could antagonize GBM recurrence. Accordingly, xenograft mice treated with the CK1A activator pyrvinium pamoate (Pyr-Pam) showed enhanced MBD3 degradation in cells expressing high levels of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) and in GSCs, overcoming temozolomide chemoresistance. Pyr-Pam blocked recruitment of MBD3 and the repressive nucleosome remodeling and deacetylase (NuRD) complex to neurogenesis-associated gene loci and increased acetyl–histone H3 activity and GSC differentiation. We conclude that CK1A/BTRCP/MBD3/NuRD signaling modulates GSC activation and malignancy, and that targeting this signaling could suppress GSC proliferation and GBM recurrence.
Byoung-San Moon, Mingyang Cai, Grace Lee, Tong Zhao, Xiaofeng Song, Steven L. Giannotta, Frank J. Attenello, Min Yu, Wange Lu
Angiosarcomas are rare, clinically aggressive tumors with limited treatment options and a dismal prognosis. We analyzed angiosarcomas from 68 patients, integrating information from multiomic sequencing, NanoString immuno-oncology profiling, and multiplex immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence for tumor-infiltrating immune cells. Through whole-genome sequencing (n = 18), 50% of the cutaneous head and neck angiosarcomas exhibited higher tumor mutation burden (TMB) and UV mutational signatures; others were mutationally quiet and non–UV driven. NanoString profiling revealed 3 distinct patient clusters represented by lack (clusters 1 and 2) or enrichment (cluster 3) of immune-related signaling and immune cells. Neutrophils (CD15+), macrophages (CD68+), cytotoxic T cells (CD8+), Tregs (FOXP3+), and PD-L1+ cells were enriched in cluster 3 relative to clusters 2 and 1. Likewise, tumor inflammation signature (TIS) scores were highest in cluster 3 (7.54 vs. 6.71 vs. 5.75, respectively; P < 0.0001). Head and neck angiosarcomas were predominant in clusters 1 and 3, providing the rationale for checkpoint immunotherapy, especially in the latter subgroup with both high TMB and TIS scores. Cluster 2 was enriched for secondary angiosarcomas and exhibited higher expression of DNMT1, BRD3/4, MYC, HRAS, and PDGFRB, in keeping with the upregulation of epigenetic and oncogenic signaling pathways amenable to targeted therapies. Molecular and immunological dissection of angiosarcomas may provide insights into opportunities for precision medicine.
Jason Yongsheng Chan, Jing Quan Lim, Joe Yeong, Vinod Ravi, Peiyong Guan, Arnoud Boot, Timothy Kwang Yong Tay, Sathiyamoorthy Selvarajan, Nur Diyana Md Nasir, Jie Hua Loh, Choon Kiat Ong, Dachuan Huang, Jing Tan, Zhimei Li, Cedric Chuan-Young Ng, Thuan Tong Tan, Mikio Masuzawa, Ken Wing-Kin Sung, Mohamad Farid, Richard Hong Hui Quek, Ngian Chye Tan, Melissa Ching Ching Teo, Steven George Rozen, Patrick Tan, Andrew Futreal, Bin Tean Teh, Khee Chee Soo
The undruggable nature of oncogenic Myc transcription factors poses a therapeutic challenge in neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer in which MYCN amplification is strongly associated with unfavorable outcome. Here, we show that CYC065 (fadraciclib), a clinical inhibitor of CDK9 and CDK2, selectively targeted MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma via multiple mechanisms. CDK9 — a component of the transcription elongation complex P-TEFb — bound to the MYCN-amplicon superenhancer, and its inhibition resulted in selective loss of nascent MYCN transcription. MYCN loss led to growth arrest, sensitizing cells for apoptosis following CDK2 inhibition. In MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma, MYCN invaded active enhancers, driving a transcriptionally encoded adrenergic gene expression program that was selectively reversed by CYC065. MYCN overexpression in mesenchymal neuroblastoma was sufficient to induce adrenergic identity and sensitize cells to CYC065. CYC065, used together with temozolomide, a reference therapy for relapsed neuroblastoma, caused long-term suppression of neuroblastoma growth in vivo, highlighting the clinical potential of CDK9/2 inhibition in the treatment of MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma.
Evon Poon, Tong Liang, Yann Jamin, Susanne Walz, Colin Kwok, Anne Hakkert, Karen Barker, Zuzanna Urban, Khin Thway, Rhamy Zeid, Albert Hallsworth, Gary Box, Marli E. Ebus, Marco P. Licciardello, Yordan Sbirkov, Glori Lazaro, Elizabeth Calton, Barbara M. Costa, Melanie Valenti, Alexis De Haven Brandon, Hannah Webber, Nicolas Tardif, Gilberto S. Almeida, Rossitza Christova, Gunther Boysen, Mark W. Richards, Giuseppe Barone, Anthony Ford, Richard Bayliss, Paul A. Clarke, Johann De Bono, Nathanael S. Gray, Julian Blagg, Simon P. Robinson, Suzanne A. Eccles, Daniella Zheleva, James E. Bradner, Jan Molenaar, Igor Vivanco, Martin Eilers, Paul Workman, Charles Y. Lin, Louis Chesler