Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is considered to be a highly immunosuppressive and heterogenous neoplasm. Despite improved knowledge regarding the genetic background of the tumor and better understanding of the tumor microenvironment, immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy (targeting CTLA4, PD1, PDL1) has not been very successful against PDAC. The robust desmoplastic stroma, along with an extensive extracellular matrix (ECM) that is rich in hyaluronan, plays an integral role in this immune evasion. Hexosamine biosynthesis pathway (HBP), a shunt pathway of glycolysis, is a metabolic node in cancer cells that can promote survival pathways on one hand and influence the hyaluronan synthesis in the ECM on the other. The rate-limiting enzyme of the pathway, glutamine-fructose amidotransferase (GFAT1), uses glutamine and fructose 6-phosphate to eventually synthesize UDP-GlcNAc. In the current manuscript, we targeted this glutamine-utilizing enzyme by a small molecule glutamine analog (6-diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine or DON). Our results showed that DON decreased the self-renewal potential and metastatic ability of tumor cell. Further, treatment with DON decreased hyaluronan and collagen in the tumor microenvironment, leading to an extensive remodeling of the ECM, and an increased infiltration CD8+ T-cells. Additionally, treatment with DON sensitized pancreatic tumors to anti-PD1 therapy resulting in tumor regression and prolonged survival.
Nikita S. Sharma, Vineet K. Gupta, Vanessa T. Garrido, Roey Hadad, Brittany C. Durden, Kousik Kesh, Bhuwan Giri, Anthony Ferrantella, Vikas Dudeja, Ashok Saluja, Sulagna Banerjee
Tumor-resident lymphocytes can mount a response against neoantigens expressed in microsatellite-stable gastrointestinal (GI) cancers, and adoptive transfer of neoantigen-specific lymphocytes has demonstrated antitumor activity in selected patients. However, whether peripheral blood could be used as an alternative minimally invasive source to identify lymphocytes targeting neoantigens in patients with GI cancer with relatively low mutation burden is unclear. We used a personalized high-throughput screening strategy to investigate whether PD-1 expression in peripheral blood could be used to identify CD8+ or CD4+ lymphocytes recognizing neoantigens identified by whole-exome sequencing in 7 patients with GI cancer. We found that neoantigen-specific lymphocytes were preferentially enriched in the CD8+PD-1+/hi or CD4+PD-1+/hi subsets, but not in the corresponding bulk or PD-1– fractions. In 6 of 7 individuals analyzed we identified circulating CD8+ and CD4+ lymphocytes targeting 6 and 4 neoantigens, respectively. Moreover, neoantigen-reactive T cells and a T cell receptor (TCR) isolated from the CD8+PD-1+ subsets recognized autologous tumor, albeit at reduced levels, in 2 patients with available cell lines. These data demonstrate the existence of circulating T cells targeting neoantigens in GI cancer patients and provide an approach to generate enriched populations of personalized neoantigen-specific lymphocytes and isolate TCRs that could be exploited therapeutically to treat cancer.
Alena Gros, Eric Tran, Maria R. Parkhurst, Sadia Ilyas, Anna Pasetto, Eric M. Groh, Paul F. Robbins, Rami Yossef, Andrea Garcia-Garijo, Carlos A. Fajardo, Todd D. Prickett, Li Jia, Jared J. Gartner, Satyajit Ray, Lien Ngo, John R. Wunderllich, James C. Yang, Steven A. Rosenberg
Polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) are increasingly recognized to influence solid tumor development, but why their effects are so context-dependent and even frequently divergent remains poorly understood. Using an autochthonous mouse model of uterine cancer and the administration of respiratory hyperoxia as a means to improve tumor oxygenation, we provide in vivo evidence that hypoxia is a potent determinant of tumor-associated PMN phenotypes and direct PMN-tumor cell interactions. Upon relief of tumor hypoxia, PMNs were recruited less intensely to the tumor-bearing uterus but the recruited cells much more effectively killed tumor cells, an activity our data moreover suggested was mediated via their production of NADPH oxidase-derived reactive oxygen species and MMP-9. Simultaneously, their ability to promote tumor cell proliferation, which appeared mediated via their production of neutrophil elastase, was rendered less effective. Relieving tumor hypoxia thus greatly improved net PMN-dependent tumor control, leading to a massive reduction in tumor burden. Remarkably, this outcome was T cell-independent. Together, these findings identify key hypoxia-regulated molecular mechanisms through which PMNs directly induce tumor cell death and proliferation in vivo and suggest that the contrasting properties of PMNs in different tumor settings may in part reflect the effects of hypoxia on direct PMN-tumor cell interactions.
Karim Mahiddine, Adam Blaisdell, Stephany Ma, Amandine Créquer-Grandhomme, Clifford A. Lowell, Adrian Erlebacher
Patients with bladder cancer (BCa) with clinical lymph node (LN) metastasis have extremely poor prognosis. VEGF-C has been demonstrated to play vital roles in LN metastasis in BCa. However, approximately 20% of BCa with LN metastasis exhibits low VEGF-C expression, suggesting a VEGF-C-independent mechanism for LN metastasis of BCa. Herein, we demonstrated that BCa cell-secreted exosomes-mediated lymphangiogenesis promoted LN metastasis in BCa, which was in a VEGF-C-independent manner. We identified an exosomal long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), termed lymph node metastasis-associated transcript 2 (LNMAT2), stimulated HLEC tube formation and migration in vitro and enhanced tumor lymphangiogenesis and LN metastasis in vivo. Mechanistically, LNMAT2 was loaded to BCa cell-secreted exosomes by directly interacting with heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A2B1 (hnRNPA2B1). Subsequently, exosomal LNMAT2 was internalized by HLECs and epigenetically upregulated prospero homeobox 1 (PROX1) expression by recruitment of hnRNPA2B1 and increasing the H3K4 trimethylation level in the PROX1 promoter, ultimately resulting in lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic metastasis. Therefore, our findings highlight a VEGF-C-independent mechanism of exosomal lncRNA-mediated LN metastasis and identify LNMAT2 as a therapeutic target for LN metastasis in BCa.
Changhao Chen, Yuming Luo, Wang He, Yue Zhao, Yao Kong, Hongwei Liu, Guangzheng Zhong, Yuting Li, Jun Li, Jian Huang, Rufu Chen, Tianxin Lin
Potentiating radiotherapy and chemotherapy by inhibiting DNA damage repair is proposed as a therapeutic strategy to improve outcomes for patients with solid tumors. However, this approach risks enhancing normal tissue toxicity as much as tumor toxicity, thereby limiting its translational impact. Using NU5455, a newly-identified highly-selective oral inhibitor of DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) activity, we found that it was indeed possible to preferentially augment the effect of targeted-radiotherapy on human orthotopic lung tumors without influencing acute DNA-damage or a late radiation-induced toxicity (fibrosis) to normal mouse lung. Furthermore, while NU5455 administration increased both the efficacy and toxicity of a parenterally-administered topoisomerase inhibitor, it enhanced the activity of doxorubicin released locally in liver tumor xenografts without inducing any adverse effect. This strategy is particularly relevant to hepatocellular cancer which is treated clinically with localized drug-eluting beads and for which DNA-PKcs activity is reported to confer resistance to treatment. We conclude that transient pharmacological inhibition of DNA-PKcs activity is effective and tolerable when combined with localized DNA-damaging therapies and thus has promising clinical potential.
Catherine E. Willoughby, Yanyan Jiang, Huw D. Thomas, Elaine Willmore, Suzanne Kyle, Anita Wittner, Nicole Phillips, Yan Zhao, Susan J. Tudhope, Lisa Prendergast, Gesa Junge, Luiza Madia Lourenco, M. Raymond V. Finlay, Paul Turner, Joanne M. Munck, Roger J. Griffin, Tommy Rennison, James Pickles, Celine Cano, David R. Newell, Helen L. Reeves, Anderson J. Ryan, Stephen R. Wedge
Catecholamines released by sympathetic nerves can activate adrenergic receptors present on nearly every cell type, including myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). Using in vitro systems and murine tumor models, in wild-type mice and genetically modified (β2-AR–/–) mice, as well adoptive transfer approaches, we found that the degree of β2-AR signaling significantly influences MDSC frequency and survival in tumors and other tissues, modulates their expression of immunosuppressive molecules such as arginase-I and PDL-1 and alters their ability to suppress the proliferation of T cells. The regulatory functions of β-AR signaling in MDSCs were found to be dependent upon STAT3 phosphorylation. Moreover, we observed that the β2-AR-mediated increase in survival of MDSCs is dependent upon Fas-FasL interactions, and this is consistent with gene expression analyses which reveal a greater expression of apoptosis-related genes in β2-AR–/– MDSCs. Our data reveals the potential of β2-AR signaling to increase the generation of MDSCs from both murine and human peripheral blood cells and that the immunosuppressive function of MDSCs could be mitigated by treatment with β-AR antagonists, or enhanced by β-AR agonists, strongly supporting the possibility that reducing stress-induced activation of β2-ARs could help to overcome immune suppression and enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy and other cancer therapies.
Hemn Mohammadpour, Cameron R. MacDonald, Guanxi Qiao, Minhui Chen, Bowen Dong, Bonnie L. Hylander, Philip L. McCarthy, Scott I. Abrams, Elizabeth A. Repasky
The Microphthalmia family of transcription factors (MiT/TFE) controls lysosomal biogenesis and is negatively regulated by the nutrient sensor mTORC1. However, the mechanisms by which cells with constitutive mTORC1 signaling maintain lysosomal catabolism remain to be elucidated. Using the murine epidermis as a model system, we found that epidermal Tsc1 deletion resulted in a phenotype characterized by wavy hair and curly whiskers, and was associated with increased EGFR and HER2 degradation. Unexpectedly, constitutive mTORC1 activation with Tsc1 loss increased lysosomal content via up-regulated expression and activity of MiT/TFEs, while genetic deletion of Rheb or Rptor or prolonged pharmacologic mTORC1 inactivation had the reverse effect. This paradoxical increase in lysosomal biogenesis by mTORC1 was mediated by feedback inhibition of AKT, and a resulting suppression of AKT-induced MiT/TFE down-regulation. Thus, inhibiting hyperactive AKT signaling in the context of mTORC1 loss-of-function fully restored MiT/TFE expression and activity. These data suggest that signaling feedback loops work to restrain or maintain cellular lysosomal content during chronically inhibited or constitutively active mTORC1 signaling respectively, and reveal a mechanism by which mTORC1 regulates upstream receptor tyrosine kinase signaling.
Kaushal Asrani, Sanjana Murali, Brandon Lam, Chan-Hyun Na, Pornima Phatak, Akshay Sood, Harsimar Kaur, Zoya Khan, Michaël Noë, Ravi K. Anchoori, C. Conover Talbot Jr., Barbara Smith, Michael Skaro, Tamara L. Lotan
The prognostic value of immune cell infiltration within the tumor microenvironment (TME) has been extensively investigated via histological and genomic approaches. Based on the positive prognostic value of T cell infiltration, Immunoscore has been developed and validated for predicting risk of recurrence for colorectal cancer (CRC). Also, association between a consensus T helper 1 (Th-1) immune response and favorable clinical outcomes has been observed across multiple cancer types. Here, we reanalyzed public genomic data sets from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus (NCBI-GEO) and performed multispectral immunohistochemistry (IHC) on a cohort of colorectal tumors. We identified and characterized a risk group, representing approximately 10% of CRC patients, with high intratumoral CD8+ T cell infiltration, but poor prognosis. These tumors included both microsatellite instable (MSI) and stable (MSS) phenotypes and had a high density of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) that expressed CD274 (programmed death-ligand 1 [PD-L1]), TGF-β activation, and an immune overdrive signature characterized by the overexpression of immune response and checkpoint genes. Our findings illustrate that CRC patients may have poor prognosis despite high CD8+ T cell infiltration and provide CD274 as a simple biomarker for identifying these patients.
Marwan Fakih, Ching Ouyang, Chongkai Wang, Travis Yiwey Tu, Maricel C. Gozo, May Cho, Marvin Sy, Jeffrey A. Longmate, Peter P. Lee
Beclin 1 (Becn1) is a key molecule of the autophagy pathway and has been implicated in cancer development. Due to the embryonic lethality of Becn1 homozygous deficient mice, the precise mechanisms and cell-type-specific role of Becn1 in the regulation of inflammation and tumor immunity remain elusive. Here, we report that myeloid-deficient Becn1 (Becn1ΔM) mice develop neutrophilia and hypersusceptible to LPS-induced septic shock, with a high risk of developing spontaneous precursor (pre)-B cell lymphoma with elevated expressions of immunosuppressive molecules PD-L1 and IL-10. Becn1 deficiency results in stabilization of neutrophil MEKK3, aberrant p38 activation, and neutrophil-B cell interaction through Cxcl9/Cxcr3 chemotaxis. Neutrophil-B cell interplay leads to activations of IL-21/STAT3/IRF1 and CD40L/ERK signaling, together regulates the programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression, and suppresses CD8+ T cell function. Ablation of p38 in Becn1ΔM mice prevents neutrophil-inflammation and B cell tumorigenesis. Importantly, low Becn1 expression in human neutrophils correlates with PD-L1 levels in pre-B ALL patients. Our findings have identified myeloid Becn1 as a therapeutic target of cancer immunity and immunotherapy for pre-B lymphomas.
Peng Tan, Lian He, Changsheng Xing, Jingrong Mao, Xiao Yu, Motao Zhu, Lixia Diao, Leng Han, Yubin Zhou, James M. You, Helen Y. Wang, Rong-Fu Wang
Despite progress in intensification of therapy, outcomes for patients with metastatic osteosarcoma (OS) have not improved in thirty years. We developed a system that enabled preclinical screening of compounds against metastatic OS cells in the context of the native lung microenvironment. Using this strategy to screen a library of epigenetically targeted compounds, we identified inhibitors of CDK12 to be most effective, reducing OS cell outgrowth in the lung by more than 90% at submicromolar doses. We found that knockout of CDK12 in an in vivo model of lung metastasis significantly decreased the ability of OS to colonize the lung. CDK12 inhibition led to defects in transcription elongation in a gene length– and expression-dependent manner. These effects were accompanied by defects in RNA processing and altered the expression of genes involved in transcription regulation and the DNA damage response. We further identified OS models that differ in their sensitivity to CDK12 inhibition in the lung and provided evidence that upregulated MYC levels may mediate these differences. Our studies provided a framework for rapid preclinical testing of compounds with antimetastatic activity and highlighted CDK12 as a potential therapeutic target in OS.
Ian Bayles, Malgorzata Krajewska, W. Dean Pontius, Alina Saiakhova, James J. Morrow, Cynthia Bartels, Jim Lu, Zachary J. Faber, Yuriy Fedorov, Ellen S. Hong, Jaret M. Karnuta, Brian Rubin, Drew J. Adams, Rani E. George, Peter C. Scacheri