Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains an important cause of morbidity and mortality after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT). For decades, GVHD prophylaxis has included calcineurin-inhibitors, despite their incomplete efficacy and impairment of graft-versus-leukemia (GVL). Distinct from pharmacologic immune suppression, we have developed a novel, human CD83-targeted chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell for GVHD prevention. CD83 is expressed on allo-activated, conventional CD4+ T cells (Tconv) and proinflammatory dendritic cells (DC); which are both implicated in GVHD pathogenesis. Human CD83 CAR T cells eradicate pathogenic CD83+ target cells, significantly increase the ratio of regulatory T cells (Treg) to allo-activated Tconv, and provide durable prevention of xenogeneic GVHD. CD83 CAR T cells are also capable of treating xenogeneic GVHD. We show human, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) expresses CD83 and myeloid leukemia cell lines are readily killed by CD83 CAR T cells. Human CD83 CAR T cells are a promising cell-based approach to prevent two critical complications of allo-HCT; GVHD and relapse. Thus, human CD83 CAR T cells warrant clinical investigation in GVHD prevention and treatment, as well as targeting CD83+ AML.
Bishwas Shrestha, Kelly Walton, Jordan Reff, Elizabeth M. Sagatys, Nhan Tu, Justin C. Boucher, Gongbo Li, Tayyeb Ghafoor, Martin Felices, Jeffrey Miller, Joseph Pidala, Bruce R. Blazar, Claudio Anasetti, Brian C. Betts, Marco L. Davila
Understanding tumor resistance to T cell immunotherapies is critical to improve patient outcomes. Our study revealed a role for transcriptional suppression of the tumor-intrinsic HLA class I (HLA-I) antigen processing and presentation machinery (APM) in therapy resistance. Low HLA-I APM mRNA levels in melanoma metastases prior to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) correlated with non-responsiveness to therapy and poor clinical outcome. Patient-derived melanoma cells with silenced HLA-I APM escaped recognition by autologous CD8+ T cells. However, targeted activation of the innate immunoreceptor RIG-I initiated de novo HLA-I APM transcription thereby overcoming T cell resistance. Antigen presentation was restored in interferon (IFN)-sensitive but also immunoedited IFN-resistant melanoma models through RIG-I-dependent stimulation of an IFN-independent salvage pathway involving IRF1 and IRF3. Likewise, enhanced HLA-I APM expression was detected in RIG-I (DDX58)-high melanoma biopsies, correlating with improved patient survival. Induction of HLA-I APM by RIG-I synergized with antibodies blocking PD-1 and TIGIT inhibitory checkpoints in boosting the anti-tumor T cell activity of ICB non-responders. Overall, the herein identified IFN-independent effect of RIG-I on tumor antigen presentation and T cell recognition proposes innate immunoreceptor targeting as a strategy to overcome intrinsic T cell resistance of IFN-sensitive and IFN-resistant melanomas and improve clinical outcomes in immunotherapy.
Lina Such, Fang Zhao, Derek Liu, Beatrice Thier, Vu Thuy Khanh Le-Trilling, Antje Sucker, Christoph Coch, Natalia Pieper, Sebastian Howe, Hilal Bhat, Halime Kalkavan, Cathrin Ritter, Robin Brinkhaus, Selma Ugurel, Johannes Köster, Ulrike Seifert, Ulf Dittmer, Martin Schuler, Karl Sebastian Lang, Thomas A Kufer, Gunther Hartmann, Jürgen Christian Becker, Susanne Horn, Soldano Ferrone, David Liu, Eliezer M. Van Allen, Dirk Schadendorf, Klaus Griewank, Mirko Trilling, Annette Paschen
Breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) play a critical role in cancer recurrence and metastasis. Chemotherapy induces BCSC specification through increased expression of pluripotency factors, but how their expression is regulated is not fully understood. Here, we delineate a hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1)-controlled pathway that epigenetically activates pluripotency factor gene transcription in response to chemotherapy. Paclitaxel induces HIF-1-dependent expression of S100A10, which forms a complex with ANXA2 that interacts with histone chaperone SPT6 and histone demethylase KDM6A. S100A10, ANXA2, SPT6, and KDM6A are recruited to OCT4 binding sites and KDM6A erases H3K27me3 chromatin marks, facilitating transcription of genes encoding the pluripotency factors NANOG, SOX2, and KLF4, which along with OCT4 are responsible for BCSC specification. Silencing of S100A10, ANXA2, SPT6, or KDM6A expression blocks chemotherapy-induced enrichment of BCSCs, impairs tumor initiation, and increases time to tumor recurrence after chemotherapy is discontinued. Pharmacological inhibition of KDM6A also impairs chemotherapy-induced BCSC enrichment. These results suggest that targeting HIF-1/S100A10-dependent and KDM6A-mediated epigenetic activation of pluripotency factor gene expression in combination with chemotherapy may block BCSC enrichment and improve clinical outcome.
Haiquan Lu, Yangyiran Xie, Linh Tran, Jie Lan, Yongkang Yang, Naveena L. Murugan, Ru Wang, Yueyang J. Wang, Gregg L. Semenza
Despite widespread use of taxanes, mechanisms of action and resistance in vivo remain to be established, and there is no way of predicting who will respond to therapy. This study examined prostate cancer (PCa) xenografts and patient samples to identify in vivo mechanisms of taxane action and resistance. Docetaxel drug-target engagement was assessed by confocal anti-tubulin immunofluorescence to quantify microtubule bundling in interphase cells and aberrant mitoses. Tumor biopsies from metastatic PCa patients obtained 2 to 5 days after their first dose of docetaxel or cabazitaxel were processed to assess microtubule bundling, which correlated with clinical response. Microtubule bundling was evident in PCa xenografts 2 to 3 days after docetaxel treatment but was decreased or lost with acquired resistance. Biopsies after treatment with leuprolide plus docetaxel showed extensive microtubule bundling as did biopsies obtained 2 to 3 days after initiation of docetaxel or cabazitaxel in 2 patients with castration-resistant PCa with clinical responses. In contrast, microtubule bundling in biopsies 2 to 3 days after the first dose of docetaxel was markedly lower in 4 nonresponding patients. These findings indicate that taxanes target both mitotic and interphase cells in vivo and that resistance is through mechanisms that impair drug-target engagement. Moreover, the findings suggest that microtubule bundling after initial taxane treatment may be a predictive biomarker for clinical response.
Ada Gjyrezi, Fang Xie, Olga Voznesensky, Prateek Khanna, Carla Calagua, Yang Bai, Justin Kung, Jim Wu, Eva Corey, Bruce Montgomery, Sandrine Mace, Diego A. Gianolio, Glenn J. Bubley, Steven P. Balk, Paraskevi Giannakakou, Rupal S. Bhatt
Phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PHGDH), the first rate-limiting enzyme of serine synthesis, is frequently overexpressed in human cancer. PHGDH overexpression activates serine synthesis to promote cancer progression. Currently, PHGDH regulation in normal cells and cancer is not well understood. Parkin, an E3 ubiquitin ligase involved in Parkinson’s disease, is a tumor suppressor. Parkin expression is frequently downregulated in many types of cancer, and its tumor-suppressive mechanism is poorly defined. Here, we show that PHGDH is a substrate for Parkin-mediated ubiquitination and degradation. Parkin interacted with PHGDH and ubiquitinated PHGDH at lysine 330, leading to PHGDH degradation to suppress serine synthesis. Parkin deficiency in cancer cells stabilized PHGDH and activated serine synthesis to promote cell proliferation and tumorigenesis, which was largely abolished by targeting PHGDH with RNA interference, CRISPR/Cas9 KO, or small-molecule PHGDH inhibitors. Furthermore, Parkin expression was inversely correlated with PHGDH expression in human breast cancer and lung cancer. Our results revealed PHGDH ubiquitination by Parkin as a crucial mechanism for PHGDH regulation that contributes to the tumor-suppressive function of Parkin and identified Parkin downregulation as a critical mechanism underlying PHGDH overexpression in cancer.
Juan Liu, Cen Zhang, Hao Wu, Xiao-Xin Sun, Yanchen Li, Shan Huang, Xuetian Yue, Shou-En Lu, Zhiyuan Shen, Xiaoyang Su, Eileen White, Bruce G. Haffty, Wenwei Hu, Zhaohui Feng
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the most aggressive cancers and is highly resistant to current treatments. ESCC harbors a subpopulation of cells exhibiting cancer stem-like cell (CSC) properties that contribute to therapeutic resistance including radioresistance, but the molecular mechanisms in ESCC CSCs are currently unknown. Here, we report that ribosomal S6 protein kinase 4 (RSK4) plays a pivotal role in promoting CSC properties and radioresistance in ESCC. RSK4 was highly expressed in ESCC CSCs and associated with radioresistance and poor survival in ESCC patients. RSK4 was found to be a direct downstream transcriptional target of ΔNp63α, the main p63 isoform, which is frequently amplified in ESCC. RSK4 activated the β-catenin signaling pathway through direct phosphorylation of GSK-3β Ser9. Pharmacologic inhibition of RSK4 effectively reduced CSC properties and improves radiosensitivity in both nude mice and patient-derived xenograft models. Collectively, our results strongly suggest that the ΔNp63α-RSK4-GSK-3β axis plays a key role in driving CSC properties and radioresistance in ESCC, indicating that RSK4 is a promising therapeutic target for ESCC treatment.
Mingyang Li, Linni Fan, Donghui Han, Zhou Yu, Jing Ma, Yixiong Liu, Peifeng Li, Danhui Zhao, Jia Chai, Lei Jiang, Shiliang Li, Juanjuan Xiao, Qiuhong Duan, Jing Ye, Mei Shi, Yongzhan Nie, Kai-Chun Wu, Dezhong Joshua Liao, Yu Shi, Yan Wang, Qingguo Yan, Shuangping Guo, Xiu-Wu Bian, Feng Zhu, Jian Zhang, Zhe Wang
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is difficult to detect, carries a poor prognosis, and is one of few cancers with an increasing yearly incidence. Molecular defects in complement factor H (CFH), a critical regulatory protein of the complement alternative pathway (AP), are typically associated with inflammatory diseases of the eye and kidney. Little is known regarding the role of CFH in controlling complement activation with the liver. While studying aging CFH-deficient (fH–/–) mice, we observed spontaneous hepatic tumor formation in more than 50% of aged fH–/– males. Examination of fH–/– livers (3–24 months) for evidence of complement-mediated inflammation revealed widespread deposition of complement activation fragments throughout the sinusoids, elevated transminase levels, increased hepatic CD8+ and F4/80+ cells, overexpress of hepatic mRNA associated with inflammatory signaling pathways, steatosis and increased collagen deposition. Immunostaining of human HCC biopsies revealed extensive deposition of complement fragments within the tumors. Interrogation of the Cancer Genome Atlas also revealed that increased CFH mRNA expression is associated with improved survival in HCC patients, whereas mutations are associated with worse survival. These results indicate that CFH is critical for controlling complement activation in the liver, and in its absence, AP activation leads to chronic inflammation and promotes hepatic carcinogenesis.
Jennifer Laskowski, Brandon Renner, Matthew C. Pickering, Natalie J. Serkova, Peter M. Smith-Jones, Eric T. Clambey, Raphael A. Nemenoff, Joshua M. Thurman
Transcriptional reactivation of telomerase catalytic subunit (TERT) is a frequent hallmark of cancer, occurring in 90% of human malignancies. However, specific mechanisms driving TERT reactivation remain obscure for many tumor types and in particular gastric cancer (GC), a leading cause of global cancer mortality. Here, through comprehensive genomic and epigenomic analysis of primary GCs and GC cell lines, we identified the transcription factor early B cell factor 1 (EBF1) as a TERT transcriptional repressor and inactivation of EBF1 function as a major cause of TERT upregulation. Abolishment of EBF1 function occurs through 3 distinct (epi)genomic mechanisms. First, EBF1 is epigenetically silenced via DNA methyltransferase, polycomb-repressive complex 2 (PRC2), and histone deacetylase activity in GCs. Second, recurrent, somatic, and heterozygous EBF1 DNA–binding domain mutations result in the production of dominant-negative EBF1 isoforms. Third, more rarely, genomic deletions and rearrangements proximal to the TERT promoter remobilize or abolish EBF1-binding sites, derepressing TERT and leading to high TERT expression. EBF1 is also functionally required for various malignant phenotypes in vitro and in vivo, highlighting its importance for GC development. These results indicate that multimodal genomic and epigenomic alterations underpin TERT reactivation in GC, converging on transcriptional repressors such as EBF1.
Manjie Xing, Wen Fong Ooi, Jing Tan, Aditi Qamra, Po-Hsien Lee, Zhimei Li, Chang Xu, Nisha Padmanabhan, Jing Quan Lim, Yu Amanda Guo, Xiaosai Yao, Mandoli Amit, Ley Moy Ng, Taotao Sheng, Jing Wang, Kie Kyon Huang, Chukwuemeka George Anene-Nzelu, Shamaine Wei Ting Ho, Mohana Ray, Lijia Ma, Gregorio Fazzi, Kevin Junliang Lim, Giovani Claresta Wijaya, Shenli Zhang, Tannistha Nandi, Tingdong Yan, Mei Mei Chang, Kakoli Das, Zul Fazreen Adam Isa, Jeanie Wu, Polly Suk Yean Poon, Yue Ning Lam, Joyce Suling Lin, Su Ting Tay, Ming Hui Lee, Angie Lay Keng Tan, Xuewen Ong, Kevin White, Steven George Rozen, Michael Beer, Roger Sik Yin Foo, Heike Irmgard Grabsch, Anders Jacobsen Skanderup, Shang Li, Bin Tean Teh, Patrick Tan
Transcriptional dysregulation is a hallmark of prostate cancer (PCa). We mapped the RNA Polymerase II (RNA Pol II) associated chromatin interactions in normal prostate cells and PCa cells. We discovered thousands of enhancer-promoter, enhancer-enhancer, as well as promoter-promoter chromatin interactions. These transcriptional hubs operate within the framework set by structural proteins—CTCF and cohesins, and are regulated by the cooperative action of master transcription factors, such as the Androgen Receptor (AR) and FOXA1. By combining analyses from metastatic castration resistant PCa (mCRPC) specimens, we show that AR locus amplification contributes to the transcriptional up-regulation of AR gene by increasing the total number of chromatin interaction modules comprising of the AR gene and its distal enhancer. We deconvoluted the transcription control modules of several PCa genes, notably, the biomarker KLK3, lineage-restricted genes (KRT8, KRT18, HOXB13, FOXA1, ZBTB16), the drug target EZH2, and the oncogene MYC. By integrating clinical PCa data, we defined a novel germline-somatic interplay between the PCa risk allele rs684232 and the somatically acquired TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion in the transcriptional regulation of multiple target genes—VPS53, FAM57A and GEMIN4. Our studies implicate changes in genome organization as a critical determinant of aberrant transcriptional regulation in PCa.
Susmita G. Ramanand, Yong Chen, Jiapei Yuan, Kelly Daescu, Maryou Lambros, Kathleen E. Houlahan, Suzanne Carreira, Wei Yuan, GuemHee Baek, Adam Sharp, Alec Paschalis, Mohammed Kanchwala, Yunpeng Gao, Adam Aslam, Nida Safdar, Xiaowei Zhan, Ganesh V. Raj, Chao Xing, Paul C. Boutros, Johann de Bono, Michael Q. Zhang, Ram S. Mani
Myeloid cells comprise a major component of the tumor-microenvironment (TME) promoting tumor growth and immune evasion. By employing a novel small molecule inhibitor of glutamine metabolism, not only were we able to inhibit tumor growth, but we markedly inhibited the generation and recruitment of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). Targeting tumor glutamine metabolism led to a decrease in CSF3 and hence recruitment of MDSCs as well immunogenic cell death leading to an increase in inflammatory tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). Alternatively, inhibiting glutamine metabolism of the MDSCs themselves led to activation induced cell death and conversion of MDSCs to inflammatory macrophages. Surprisingly, blocking glutamine metabolism also inhibited IDO expression of both the tumor and myeloid derived cells leading to a marked decrease in kynurenine levels. This in turn inhibited the development of metastasis and further enhanced anti-tumor immunity. Indeed, targeting glutamine metabolism rendered checkpoint blockade-resistant tumors susceptible to immunotherapy. Overall, our studies define an intimate interplay between the unique metabolism of tumors and the metabolism of suppressive immune cells.
Min-Hee Oh, Im-Hong Sun, Liang Zhao, Robert D. Leone, Im-Meng Sun, Wei Xu, Samuel L. Collins, Ada J. Tam, Richard L. Blosser, Chirag H. Patel, Judson M. Englert, Matthew L. Arwood, Jiayu Wen, Yee Chan-Li, Lukáš Tenora, Pavel Majer, Rana Rais, Barbara S. Slusher, Maureen R. Horton, Jonathan D. Powell