Inhibitors of VEGF signaling can block angiogenesis and reduce tumor vascularity, but little is known about the reversibility of these changes after treatment ends. In the present study, regrowth of blood vessels in spontaneous RIP-Tag2 tumors and implanted Lewis lung carcinomas in mice was assessed after inhibition of VEGF receptor signaling by AG-013736 or AG-028262 for 7 days. Both agents caused loss of 50%–60% of tumor vasculature. Empty sleeves of basement membrane were left behind. Pericytes also survived but had less α–SMA immunoreactivity. One day after drug withdrawal, endothelial sprouts grew into empty sleeves of basement membrane. Vessel patency and connection to the bloodstream followed close behind. By 7 days, tumors were fully revascularized, and the pericyte phenotype returned to baseline. Importantly, the regrown vasculature regressed as much during a second treatment as it did in the first. Inhibition of MMPs or targeting of type IV collagen cryptic sites by antibody HUIV26 did not eliminate the sleeves or slow revascularization. These results suggest that empty sleeves of basement membrane and accompanying pericytes provide a scaffold for rapid revascularization of tumors after removal of anti-VEGF therapy and highlight their importance as potential targets in cancer therapy.
Michael R. Mancuso, Rachel Davis, Scott M. Norberg, Shaun O’Brien, Barbara Sennino, Tsutomu Nakahara, Virginia J. Yao, Tetsuichiro Inai, Peter Brooks, Bruce Freimark, David R. Shalinsky, Dana D. Hu-Lowe, Donald M. McDonald
We previously identified a rearrangement of mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) gene (also known as ALL-1, HRX, and HTRX1), consisting of an in-frame partial tandem duplication (PTD) of exons 5 through 11 in the absence of a partner gene, occurring in approximately 4%–7% of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and normal cytogenetics, and associated with a poor prognosis. The mechanism by which the MLL PTD contributes to aberrant hematopoiesis and/or leukemia is unknown. To examine this, we generated a mouse knockin model in which exons 5 through 11 of the murine Mll gene were targeted to intron 4 of the endogenous Mll locus. MllPTD/WT mice exhibit an alteration in the boundaries of normal homeobox (Hox) gene expression during embryogenesis, resulting in axial skeletal defects and increased numbers of hematopoietic progenitor cells. MllPTD/WT mice overexpress Hoxa7, Hoxa9, and Hoxa10 in spleen, BM, and blood. An increase in histone H3/H4 acetylation and histone H3 lysine 4 (Lys4) methylation within the Hoxa7 and Hoxa9 promoters provides an epigenetic mechanism by which this overexpression occurs in vivo and an etiologic role for MLL PTD gain of function in the genesis of AML.
Adrienne M. Dorrance, Shujun Liu, Weifeng Yuan, Brian Becknell, Kristy J. Arnoczky, Martin Guimond, Matthew P. Strout, Lan Feng, Tatsuya Nakamura, Li Yu, Laura J. Rush, Michael Weinstein, Gustavo Leone, Lizhao Wu, Amy Ferketich, Susan P. Whitman, Guido Marcucci, Michael A. Caligiuri
EGFR is frequently mutated and amplified in lung adenocarcinomas sensitive to EGFR inhibitors gefitinib and erlotinib. A secondary mutation, T790M, has been associated with acquired resistance but has not been shown to be sufficient to render EGFR mutant/amplified lung cancers resistant to EGFR inhibitors. We created a model for studying acquired resistance to gefitinib by prolonged exposure of a gefitinib-sensitive lung carcinoma cell line (H3255; EGFR mutated and amplified) to gefitinib in vitro. The resulting resistant cell line acquired a T790M mutation in a small fraction of the amplified alleles that was undetected by direct sequencing and identified only by a highly sensitive HPLC-based technique. In gefitinib-sensitive lung cancer cells with EGFR mutations and amplifications, exogenous introduction of EGFR T790M effectively conferred resistance to gefitinib and continued ErbB-3/PI3K/Akt signaling when in cis to an activating mutation. Moreover, continued activation of PI3K signaling by the PIK3CA oncogenic mutant, p110α E545K, was sufficient to abrogate gefitinib-induced apoptosis. These findings suggest that allelic dilution of biologically significant resistance mutations may go undetected by direct sequencing in cancers with amplified oncogenes and that restoration of PI3K activation via either a T790M mutation or other mechanisms can provide resistance to gefitinib.
Jeffrey A. Engelman, Toru Mukohara, Kreshnik Zejnullahu, Eugene Lifshits, Ana M. Borrás, Christopher-Michael Gale, George N. Naumov, Beow Y. Yeap, Emily Jarrell, Jason Sun, Sean Tracy, Xiaojun Zhao, John V. Heymach, Bruce E. Johnson, Lewis C. Cantley, Pasi A. Jänne
Active suppression of tumor-specific T lymphocytes can limit the efficacy of immune surveillance and immunotherapy. While tumor-recruited CD11b+ myeloid cells are known mediators of tumor-associated immune dysfunction, the true nature of these suppressive cells and the fine biochemical pathways governing their immunosuppressive activity remain elusive. Here we describe a population of circulating CD11b+IL-4 receptor α+ (CD11b+IL-4Rα+), inflammatory-type monocytes that is elicited by growing tumors and activated by IFN-γ released from T lymphocytes. CD11b+IL-4Rα+ cells produced IL-13 and IFN-γ and integrated the downstream signals of these cytokines to trigger the molecular pathways suppressing antigen-activated CD8+ T lymphocytes. Analogous immunosuppressive circuits were active in CD11b+ cells present within the tumor microenvironment. These suppressor cells challenge the current idea that tumor-conditioned immunosuppressive monocytes/macrophages are alternatively activated. Moreover, our data show how the inflammatory response elicited by tumors had detrimental effects on the adaptive immune system and suggest novel approaches for the treatment of tumor-induced immune dysfunctions.
Giovanna Gallina, Luigi Dolcetti, Paolo Serafini, Carmela De Santo, Ilaria Marigo, Mario P. Colombo, Giuseppe Basso, Frank Brombacher, Ivan Borrello, Paola Zanovello, Silvio Bicciato, Vincenzo Bronte
One approach to enhancing the T cell response to tumors is vaccination with mimotopes, mimics of tumor epitopes. While mimotopes can stimulate proliferation of T cells that recognize tumor-associated antigens (TAAs), this expansion does not always correlate with control of tumor growth. We hypothesized that vaccination with mimotopes of optimal affinity in this interaction will improve antitumor immunity. Using a combinatorial peptide library and a cytotoxic T lymphocyte clone that recognizes a TAA, we identified a panel of mimotopes that, when complexed with MHC, bound the TAA-specific TCR with a range of affinities. As expected, in vitro assays showed that the affinity of the TCR-peptide-MHC (TCR-pMHC) interaction correlated with activity of the T cell clone. However, only vaccination with mimotopes in the intermediate-affinity range elicited functional T cells and provided protection against tumor growth in vivo. Vaccination with mimotopes with the highest-affinity TCR-pMHC interactions elicited TAA-specific T cells to the tumor, but did not control tumor growth at any of the peptide concentrations tested. Further analysis of these T cells showed functional defects in response to the TAA. Thus, stimulation of an antitumor response by mimotopes may be optimal with peptides that increase but do not maximize the affinity of the TCR-pMHC interaction.
Rachel H. McMahan, Jennifer A. McWilliams, Kimberly R. Jordan, Steven W. Dow, Darcy B. Wilson, Jill E. Slansky
Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) are associated with tumor progression and metastasis. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that legumain, a member of the asparaginyl endopeptidase family functioning as a stress protein, overexpressed by TAMs, provides an ideal target molecule. In fact, a legumain-based DNA vaccine served as a tool to prove this point, as it induced a robust CD8+ T cell response against TAMs, which dramatically reduced their density in tumor tissues and resulted in a marked decrease in proangiogenic factors released by TAMs such as TGF-β, TNF-α, MMP-9, and VEGF. This, in turn, led to a suppression of both tumor angiogenesis and tumor growth and metastasis. Importantly, the success of this strategy was demonstrated in murine models of metastatic breast, colon, and non–small cell lung cancers, where 75% of vaccinated mice survived lethal tumor cell challenges and 62% were completely free of metastases. In conclusion, decreasing the number of TAMs in the tumor stroma effectively altered the tumor microenvironment involved in tumor angiogenesis and progression to markedly suppress tumor growth and metastasis. Gaining better insights into the mechanisms required for an effective intervention in tumor growth and metastasis may ultimately lead to new therapeutic targets and better anticancer strategies.
Yunping Luo, He Zhou, Jörg Krueger, Charles Kaplan, Sung-Hyung Lee, Carrie Dolman, Dorothy Markowitz, Wenyuan Wu, Cheng Liu, Ralph A. Reisfeld, Rong Xiang
Recent studies have shown that nicotine, a component of cigarette smoke, can stimulate the proliferation of non-neuronal cells. While nicotine is not carcinogenic by itself, it has been shown to induce cell proliferation and angiogenesis. Here we find that mitogenic effects of nicotine in non–small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) are analogous to those of growth factors and involve activation of Src, induction of Rb–Raf-1 interaction, and phosphorylation of Rb. Analysis of human NSCLC tumors show enhanced levels of Rb–Raf-1 complexes compared with adjacent normal tissue. The mitogenic effects of nicotine were mediated via the α7-nAChR subunit and resulted in enhanced recruitment of E2F1 and Raf-1 on proliferative promoters in NSCLC cell lines and human lung tumors. Nicotine stimulation of NSCLC cells caused dissociation of Rb from these promoters. Proliferative signaling via nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) required the scaffolding protein β-arrestin; ablation of β-arrestin or disruption of the Rb–Raf-1 interaction blocked nicotine-induced proliferation of NSCLCs. Additionally, suppression of β-arrestin also blocked activation of Src, suppressed levels of phosphorylated ERK, and abrogated Rb–Raf-1 binding in response to nicotine. It appears that nicotine induces cell proliferation by β-arrestin–mediated activation of the Src and Rb–Raf-1 pathways.
Piyali Dasgupta, Shipra Rastogi, Smitha Pillai, Dalia Ordonez-Ercan, Mark Morris, Eric Haura, Srikumar Chellappan
Tumor-associated fibroblasts are key regulators of tumorigenesis. In contrast to tumor cells, which are genetically unstable and mutate frequently, the presence of genetically more stable fibroblasts in the tumor-stromal compartment makes them an optimal target for cancer immunotherapy. These cells are also the primary source of collagen type I, which contributes to decreased chemotherapeutic drug uptake in tumors and plays a significant role in regulating tumor sensitivity to a variety of chemotherapies. To specifically kill tumor-associated fibroblasts, we constructed an oral DNA vaccine targeting fibroblast activation protein (FAP), which is specifically overexpressed by fibroblasts in the tumor stroma. Through CD8+ T cell–mediated killing of tumor-associated fibroblasts, our vaccine successfully suppressed primary tumor cell growth and metastasis of multidrug-resistant murine colon and breast carcinoma. Furthermore, tumor tissue of FAP-vaccinated mice revealed markedly decreased collagen type I expression and up to 70% greater uptake of chemotherapeutic drugs. Most importantly, pFap-vaccinated mice treated with chemotherapy showed a 3-fold prolongation in lifespan and marked suppression of tumor growth, with 50% of the animals completely rejecting a tumor cell challenge. This strategy opens a new venue for the combination of immuno- and chemotherapies.
Markus Loeffler, Jörg A. Krüger, Andreas G. Niethammer, Ralph A. Reisfeld
Cholangiocellular carcinoma (CC), the second most common primary liver cancer, is associated with a poor prognosis. It has been shown that CCs harbor alterations of a number of tumor-suppressor genes and oncogenes, yet key regulators for tumorigenesis remain unknown. Here we have generated a mouse model that develops CC with high penetrance using liver-specific targeted disruption of tumor suppressors SMAD4 and PTEN. In the absence of SMAD4 and PTEN, hyperplastic foci emerge exclusively from bile ducts of mutant mice at 2 months of age and continue to grow, leading to tumor formation in all animals at 4–7 months of age. We show that CC formation follows a multistep progression of histopathological changes that are associated with significant alterations, including increased levels of phosphorylated AKT, FOXO1, GSK-3β, mTOR, and ERK and increased nuclear levels of cyclin D1. We further demonstrate that SMAD4 and PTEN regulate each other through a novel feedback mechanism to maintain an expression balance and synergistically repress CC formation. Finally, our analysis of human CC detected PTEN inactivation in a majority of p-AKT–positive CCs, while about half also lost SMAD4 expression. These findings elucidate the relationship between SMAD4 and PTEN and extend our understanding of CC formation.
Xiaoling Xu, Shogo Kobayashi, Wenhui Qiao, Cuiling Li, Cuiying Xiao, Svetlana Radaeva, Bangyan Stiles, Rui-Hong Wang, Nobuya Ohara, Tadashi Yoshino, Derek LeRoith, Michael S. Torbenson, Gregory J. Gores, Hong Wu, Bin Gao, Chu-Xia Deng
Resistance to chemotherapy presents a serious challenge in the successful treatment of various cancers and is mainly responsible for mortality associated with disseminated cancers. Here we show that expression of HtrA1, which is frequently downregulated in ovarian cancer, influences tumor response to chemotherapy by modulating chemotherapy-induced cytotoxicity. Downregulation of HtrA1 attenuated cisplatin- and paclitaxel-induced cytotoxicity, while forced expression of HtrA1 enhanced cisplatin- and paclitaxel-induced cytotoxicity. HtrA1 expression was upregulated by both cisplatin and paclitaxel treatment. This upregulation resulted in limited autoproteolysis and activation of HtrA1. Active HtrA1 induces cell death in a serine protease–dependent manner. The potential role of HtrA1 as a predictive factor of clinical response to chemotherapy was assessed in both ovarian and gastric cancer patients receiving cisplatin-based regimens. Patients with ovarian or gastric tumors expressing higher levels of HtrA1 showed a higher response rate compared with those with lower levels of HtrA1 expression. These findings uncover what we believe to be a novel pathway by which serine protease HtrA1 mediates paclitaxel- and cisplatin-induced cytotoxicity and suggest that loss of HtrA1 in ovarian and gastric cancers may contribute to in vivo chemoresistance.
Jeremy Chien, Giovanni Aletti, Alfonso Baldi, Vincenzo Catalano, Pietro Muretto, Gary L. Keeney, Kimberly R. Kalli, Julie Staub, Michael Ehrmann, William A. Cliby, Yean Kit Lee, Keith C. Bible, Lynn C. Hartmann, Scott H. Kaufmann, Viji Shridhar