Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) is a proven target in mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), an aggressive subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. However, resistance to BTK inhibitors is a major clinical challenge. We here report that MALT1 is one of the top overexpressed genes in ibrutinib-resistant MCL cells, while expression of CARD11, which is upstream of MALT1, is decreased. MALT1 genetic knockout or inhibition produced dramatic defects in MCL cell growth regardless of ibrutinib sensitivity. Conversely, CARD11-knockout cells showed antitumor effects only in ibrutinib-sensitive cells, suggesting that MALT1 overexpression could drive ibrutinib resistance via bypassing BTK/CARD11 signaling. Additionally, BTK knockdown and MALT1 knockout markedly impaired MCL tumor migration and dissemination, and MALT1 pharmacological inhibition decreased MCL cell viability, adhesion, and migration by suppressing NF-κB, PI3K/AKT/mTOR, and integrin signaling. Importantly, cotargeting MALT1 with safimaltib and BTK with pirtobrutinib induced potent anti-MCL activity in ibrutinib-resistant MCL cell lines and patient-derived xenografts. Therefore, we conclude that MALT1 overexpression associates with resistance to BTK inhibitors in MCL, targeting abnormal MALT1 activity could be a promising therapeutic strategy to overcome BTK inhibitor resistance, and cotargeting of MALT1 and BTK should improve MCL treatment efficacy and durability as well as patient outcomes.
Vivian Changying Jiang, Yang Liu, Junwei Lian, Shengjian Huang, Alexa Jordan, Qingsong Cai, Ruitao Lin, Fangfang Yan, Joseph McIntosh, Yijing Li, Yuxuan Che, Zhihong Chen, Jovanny Vargas, Maria Badillo, John Nelson Bigcal, Heng-Huan Lee, Wei Wang, Yixin Yao, Lei Nie, Christopher R. Flowers, Michael Wang
Cortical neural dynamics mediate information processing for the cerebral cortex, implicated in fundamental biological processes, such as vision and olfaction, in addition to neurological and psychiatric diseases. Spontaneous pain is a key feature of human neuropathic pain. Whether spontaneous pain pushes cortical network into an aberrant state, and if so, whether it can be brought back to a ‘normal’ operating range to ameliorate pain are unknown. Using a clinically relevant mouse model of neuropathic pain with spontaneous pain-like behavior, we report that orofacial spontaneous pain activated a specific area within the primary somatosensory cortex (S1), displaying synchronized neural dynamics revealed by intravital two-photon calcium imaging. This synchronization was underpinned by local GABAergic interneuron hypoactivity. Pain-induced cortical synchronization could be attenuated by manipulating local S1 networks or clinically effective pain therapies. Specifically, both chemogenetic inhibition of pain-related c-Fos-expressing neurons, and selective activation of GABAergic interneurons, significantly attenuated S1 synchronization. Clinically effective pain therapies including carbamazepine and nerve root decompression could also dampen S1 synchronization. More importantly, restoring a ‘normal’ range of neural dynamics, through attenuating pain-induced S1 synchronization, alleviated pain-like behavior. These results suggest spontaneous pain pushes S1 regional network into a synchronized state, whereas reversal of this synchronization alleviates pain.
Weihua Ding, Lukas Fischer, Qian Chen, Ziyi Li, Liuyue Yang, Zerong You, Kun Hu, Xinbo Wu, Xue Zhou, Wei Chao, Peter Hu, Tewodros Mulugeta Dagnew, Daniel M. DuBreuil, Shiyu Wang, Suyun Xia, Caroline Bao, Shengmei Zhu, Lucy Chen, Changning Wang, Brian Wainger, Peng Jin, Jianren Mao, Guoping Feng, Mark T. Harnett, Shiqian Shen
Our understanding of neuropathic itch is limited, due to the lack of relevant animal models. Patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) suffer from severe itching. Here we characterize a mouse model of chronic itch with remarkable lymphoma growth, immune cell accumulation, and persistent pruritus. Intradermal CTCL inoculation produces time-dependent changes in nerve innervations in lymphoma-bearing skin. In the early-phase (20 days), CTCL causes hyper-innervations in the epidermis. However, chronic itch is associated with loss of epidermal nerve fibers in the late-phases (40 and 60 days). CTCL is also characterized by marked nerve innervations in mouse lymphoma. Blockade of C-fibers reduced pruritus at early- and late-phases, whereas blockade of A-fibers only suppressed late-phase itch. Intrathecal gabapentin injection reduced late-phase but not early-phase pruritus. IL-31 is upregulated in mouse lymphoma, while its receptor Il31ra was persistently upregulated in Trpv1-expressing sensory neurons in CTCL mice. Intratumoral anti-IL-31 treatment effectively suppressed CTCL-induced scratching and alloknesis (mechanical itch). Finally, intrathecal administration of TLR4 antagonist attenuated pruritus in early and late phases and in both sexes. Collectively, we have established a mouse model of neuropathic and cancer itch with relevance to human disease. Our findings also suggest distinct mechanisms underlying acute, chronic, and neuropathic itch.
Ouyang Chen, Qianru He, Qingjian Han, Kenta Furutani, Yun Gu, Madelynne Olexa, Ru-Rong Ji
Approximately 10% of monogenic diseases are caused by nonsense point mutations that generate premature termination codons (PTCs), resulting in a truncated protein and nonsense-mediated decay of the mutant mRNAs. Here, we demonstrate a mini-dCas13X-mediated RNA adenine base editing (mxABE) strategy to treat nonsense mutation-related monogenic diseases via A-to-G editing in a genetically humanized mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Initially, we identified a nonsense point mutation (c.4174C>T, p.Gln1392*) in the DMD gene of a patient and validated its pathogenicity in humanized mice. In this model, single adeno-associated virus (AAV)-packaged mxABE reached A-to-G editing rates up to 84% in vivo, which is at least 20-fold greater compared to rates reported in previous studies using other RNA-editing modalities. Furthermore, mxABE restored robust expression of dystrophin protein to over 50% of wild-type (WT) levels by enabling PTC read-through in multiple muscle tissues. Importantly, systemic delivery of mxABE by AAV also rescued dystrophin expression to averages of 37%, 6%, and 54% of WT levels in the diaphragm, tibialis anterior, and heart muscle, respectively, as well as rescued muscle function. Our data strongly suggest that mxABE-based strategies may be a viable new treatment modality for DMD and other monogenic diseases.
Guoling Li, Ming Jin, Zhifang Li, Qingquan Xiao, Jiajia Lin, Dong Yang, Yuanhua Liu, Xing Wang, Long Xie, Wenqin Ying, Haoqiang Wang, Erwei Zuo, Linyu Shi, Ning Wang, Wanjin Chen, Chunlong Xu, Hui Yang
BACKGROUND. Studies assessing the efficacy of therapies for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nvAMD) have demonstrated that aflibercept may have a longer treatment interval than its lesser-expensive alternative, bevacizumab. However, whether this benefit justifies the additional cost of aflibercept remains under debate. We have recently reported that a “treat-and-extend-pause/monitor” (TEP/M) approach can be used to successfully wean 31% of nvAMD patients off anti-VEGF therapy. Here we examine whether the choice of therapy influences the outcomes of this approach. METHODS. In this retrospective analysis, 122 eyes of 106 patients with nvAMD underwent 3 consecutive monthly injections with either aflibercept (n=70) or bevacizumab (n=52) followed by a treat-and-extend protocol in which the decision to extend the interval between treatments was based on visual acuity, clinical exam, and the presence or absence of fluid on optical coherence tomography (OCT). Eyes that remained stable 12 weeks from their prior treatment were given a 6-week trial of holding further treatment, followed by quarterly monitoring. Treatment was resumed for worsening vision, clinical exam, or OCT findings. RESULTS. At the end of one year, eyes receiving bevacizumab had similar vision but required more injections (8.7 ±0.3 vs. 7.2 ±0.3) compared to aflibercept. However, eyes treated with aflibercept were almost 3-times more likely to be weaned off treatment (43% vs. 15%) compared to eyes treated with bevacizumab at the end of one year. CONCLUSIONS. These observations expose a previously unappreciated advantage of aflibercept over bevacizumab and have important clinical implications for the selection of therapy for patients with nvAMD.
Xuan Cao, Jaron Castillo Sanchez, Tapan P. Patel, Zhiyong Yang, Chuanyu Guo, Danyal Malik, Anuoluwapo Sopeyin, Silvia Montaner, Akrit Sodhi
Mutational activation of KRAS is a common oncogenic event in lung cancer, yet effective therapies are still lacking. Here, we identify B cell lymphoma 6 (BCL6) as a lynchpin in KRAS-driven lung cancer. BCL6 expression was increased upon KRAS activation in lung tumor tissue in mice and was positively correlated with the expression of KRAS-GTP, the active form of KRAS, in various human cancer cell lines. Moreover, BCL6 was highly expressed in human KRAS-mutant lung adenocarcinomas and was associated with poor patient survival. Mechanistically, the MAPK/ERK/ELK1 signaling axis downstream of mutant KRAS directly regulated BCL6 expression. BCL6 maintained the global expression of prereplication complex components; therefore, BCL6 inhibition induced stalling of the replication fork, leading to DNA damage and growth arrest in KRAS-mutant lung cancer cells. Importantly, BCL6-specific knockout in lungs significantly reduced the tumor burden and mortality in the LSL-KrasG12D/+ lung cancer mouse model. Likewise, pharmacological inhibition of BCL6 significantly impeded the growth of KRAS-mutant lung cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo. In summary, our findings reveal a crucial role of BCL6 in promoting KRAS-addicted lung cancer and suggest BCL6 as a therapeutic target for the treatment of this intractable disease.
Kun Li, Yanan Liu, Yi Ding, Zhengwei Zhang, Juanjuan Feng, Jiaxin Hu, Jiwei Chen, Zhengke Lian, Yiliang Chen, Kewen Hu, Zhi Chen, Zhenyu Cai, Mingyao Liu, Xiufeng Pang
BACKGROUND. Results of many randomized trials on COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) have been reported but information on long-term outcome after CCP treatment is limited. The objectives of this extended observation of the randomized CAPSID trial are to assess long-term outcome and disease burden in patients initially treated with or without CCP. METHODS. Of 105 randomized patients, 50 participated in the extended observation. Quality of life (QoL) was assessed by questionnaires and a structured interview. CCP-donors (n=113) with asymptomatic to moderate COVID-19 were included as a reference group.RESULTS. The median follow-up of patients was 396 days, the estimated 1-year survival was 78.7% in the CCP and 60.2% in the control group (p=0.08). The subgroup treated with a higher cumulative amount of neutralizing antibodies showed a better 1-year survival compared to the control group (91.5% versus 60.2%; p=0.01). Medical events and QoL assessments showed a consistent trend for better results in the CCP group without reaching statistical significance. There was no difference in the increase of neutralizing antibodies after vaccination between CCP and the control group. CONCLUSION. The trial demonstrated a trend towards better outcome in the CCP group without reaching statistical significance. A pre-defined subgroup analysis showed a significant better outcome (long-term survival; time to discharge from ICU and time to hospital discharge) among those who received a higher amount of neutralizing antibodies compared to the control group. A substantial long-term disease burden remains after severe COVID-19. TRIAL REGISTRATION. EudraCT number 2020-001310-38 FUNDING. Bundesministerium für Gesundheit (German Federal Ministry of Health): ZMVI1-2520COR802/ZMI1-2521COR802
Sixten Körper, Beate Grüner, Daniel Zickler, Thomas Wiesmann, Patrick Wuchter, Rainer Blasczyk, Kai Zacharowski, Peter Spieth, Torsten Tonn, Peter Rosenberger, Gregor Paul, Jan Pilch, Joachim Schwäble, Tamam Bakchoul, Thomas Thiele, Julian Knoerlein, Matthias M. Dollinger, Joerg Krebs, Martin Bentz, Victor M. Corman, Dzenan Kilalic, Gerlinde Schmidtke-Schrezenmeier, Philipp M. Lepper, Lucas Ernst, Hinnerk Wulf, Alexandra Ulrich, Manfred Weiss, Jan Kruse, Thomas Burkhardt, Rebecca Müller, Harald Klüter, Michael Schmidt, Bernd Jahrsdörfer, Ramin Lotfi, Markus Rojewski, Thomas Appl, Benjamin Mayer, Philipp Schnecko, Erhard Seifried, Hubert Schrezenmeier
Fusion oncoproteins are the initiating event in the pathogenesis of many pediatric AML. The CBFA2T3-GLIS2 (C/G) fusion is a product of a cryptic translocation primarily seen in infants and early childhood and is associated with dismal outcome. Here, we demonstrate that the expression of the C/G oncogenic fusion protein promotes the transformation of human cord blood hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (CB HSPCs) in an endothelial cell (EC) co-culture system, that recapitulates the transcriptome, morphology and immunophenotype of C/G AML and induces highly aggressive leukemia in xenograft models. Interrogating the transcriptome of C/G-CB cells and primary C/G AML identified a library of C/G fusion-specific genes that are potential targets for therapy. We developed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells directed against one of the targets, FOLR1, and demonstrated their pre-clinical efficacy against C/G AML using in vitro and xenograft models. FOLR1 is also expressed in renal and pulmonary epithelium, raising concerns for toxicity that must be addressed for the clinical application of this therapy. Our findings underscore the role of the endothelial niche in promoting leukemic transformation of C/G-transduced CB HSPCs. Furthermore, this work has broad implications for studies of leukemogenesis applicable to a variety of oncogenic fusion-driven pediatric leukemias, providing a robust and tractable model system to characterize the molecular mechanisms of leukemogenesis and identify biomarkers for disease diagnosis and targets for therapy.
Quy Le, Brandon Hadland, Jenny L. Smith, Amanda Leonti, Benjamin J. Huang, Rhonda Ries, Tiffany A. Hylkema, Sommer Castro, Thao T. Tang, Cyd N. McKay, LaKeisha Perkins, Laura Pardo, Jay Sarthy, Amy K. Beckman, Robin Williams, Rhonda Idemmili, Scott Furlan, Takashi Ishida, Lindsey Call, Shivani Srivastava, Anisha M. Loeb, Filippo Milano, Suzan Imren, Shelli M. Morris, Fiona Pakiam, James M. Olson, Michael R. Loken, Lisa Eidenschink Brodersen, Stanley R. Riddell, Katherine Tarlock, Irwin D. Bernstein, Keith R. Loeb, Soheil Meshinchi
Pediatric high-grade gliomas (pHGGs) are the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children in the USA. Sixteen percent of hemispheric pediatric and young adult HGGs encode Gly34Arg/Val substitutions in the histone H3.3 (H3.3-G34R/V). The mechanisms by which H3.3-G34R/V drive malignancy and therapeutic resistance in pHGGs remain unknown. Using a syngeneic, genetically engineered mouse model (GEMM) and human pHGG cells encoding H3.3-G34R, we demonstrate that this mutation leads to downregulation of the DNA repair pathways. This leads to enhanced susceptibility to DNA damage and inhibition of the DNA damage response (DDR). We demonstrate that genetic instability resulting from improper DNA repair in G34R-mutant pHGG leads to accumulation of extrachromosomal DNA, which activates the cGAS-STING pathway, inducing the release of immune-stimulatory cytokines. We treated H3.3-G34R pHGG-bearing mice with a combination of radiotherapy (RT) and DNA damage response inhibitors (DDRi) (i.e., the blood-brain barrier permeable PARP inhibitor, pamiparib, and the cell cycle checkpoint CHK1/2 inhibitor, AZD7762), and these combinations resulted in approximately 50% long-term survivors. Moreover, the addition of a STING agonist (diABZl) enhanced the therapeutic efficacy of these treatments. Long-term survivors developed immunological memory, preventing pHGG growth upon rechallenge. These results demonstrate that DDRi and STING agonists in combination with RT induce immune-mediated therapeutic efficacy in G34-mutant pHGG.
Santiago Haase, Kaushik Banerjee, Anzar A. Mujeeb, Carson S. Hartlage, Fernando M. Nunez, Felipe J. Nuñez, Mahmoud S. Alghamri, Padma Kadiyala, Stephen Carney, Marcus Barissi, Ayman W. Taher, Emily K. Brumley, Sarah Thompson, Justin T. Dreyer, Caitlin T. Alindogan, Maria B. Garcia-Fabiani, Andrea Comba, Sriram Venneti, Visweswaran Ravikumar, Carl Koschmann, Angel M. Carcaboso, Maria Vinci, Arvind Rao, Jennifer S. Yu, Pedro R. Lowenstein, Maria G. Castro
In addition to playing a major role in tumor cell biology, p53 generates a microenvironment that promotes antitumor immune surveillance via tumor-associated macrophages. We examined whether increasing p53 signaling in the tumor microenvironment influences antitumor T cell immunity. Our findings indicate that increased p53 signaling induced either pharmacologically with APR-246 (eprenetapopt) or in p53-overexpressing transgenic mice can disinhibit antitumor T cell immunity and augment the efficacy of immune checkpoint blockade. We demonstrated that increased p53 expression in tumor-associated macrophages induces canonical p53-associated functions such as senescence and activation of a p53-dependent senescence-associated secretory phenotype. This was linked with decreased expression of proteins associated with M2 polarization by tumor-associated macrophages. Our preclinical data led to the development of a clinical trial in patients with solid tumors combining APR-246 with pembrolizumab. Biospecimens from select patients participating in this ongoing trial showed that there was a suppression of M2-polarized myeloid cells and increase in T cell proliferation with therapy in those who responded to the therapy. Our findings, based on both genetic and a small molecule–based pharmacological approach, suggest that increasing p53 expression in tumor-associated macrophages reprograms the tumor microenvironment to augment the response to immune checkpoint blockade.
Arnab Ghosh, Judith Michels, Riccardo Mezzadra, Divya Venkatesh, Lauren Dong, Ricardo Gomez, Fadi Samaan, Yu-Jui Ho, Luis Felipe Campesato, Levi Mangarin, John Fak, Nathan Suek, Aliya Holland, Cailian Liu, Mohsen Abu-Akeel, Yonina Bykov, Hong Zhong, Kelly Fitzgerald, Sadna Budhu, Andrew Chow, Roberta Zappasodi, Katherine S. Panageas, Olivier de Henau, Marcus Ruscetti, Scott W. Lowe, Taha Merghoub, Jedd D. Wolchok
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