Despite the remarkable achievements of novel targeted anti-cancer drugs, most therapies only produce remission for a limited time, resistance to treatment, and relapse, often being the ultimate outcome. Drug resistance is due to highly efficient adaptive strategies utilized by cancer cells. Exogenous and endogenous stress stimuli are known to induce first-line responses, capable of re-establishing cellular homeostasis and determining cell fate decisions. Cancer cells may also mount second-line adaptive strategies, such as the mutator response. Hypermutable subpopulations of cells may expand under severe selective stress, thereby accelerating the emergence of adapted clones. As with first-line protective responses, these strategies appear highly conserved, and are found in yeasts and bacteria. We hypothesize that evolutionarily conserved programs rheostatically regulate mutability in fluctuating environments, and contribute to drug resistance in cancer cells. Elucidating the conserved genetic and molecular mechanisms may present novel opportunities to increase the effectiveness of cancer therapies.
Sarcomas are a key feature of Li-Fraumeni and related syndromes (LFS/LFL), associated with germline TP53 mutations. Current penetrance estimates for TP53 mutations are subject to significant ascertainment bias. The International Sarcoma Kindred Study is a clinic-based, prospective cohort of adult-onset sarcoma cases, without regard to family history. The entire cohort was screened for mutations in TP53 using high-resolution melting analysis and Sanger sequencing, and multiplex-ligation-dependent probe amplification and targeted massively parallel sequencing for copy number changes. Pathogenic TP53 mutations were detected in blood DNA of 20/559 sarcoma probands (3.6%); 17 were germline and 3 appeared to be somatically acquired. Of the germline carriers, one appeared to be mosaic, detectable in the tumor and blood, but not epithelial tissues. Germline mutation carriers were more likely to have multiple cancers (47% vs 15% for non-carriers, P?=?3.0×10(-3)), and earlier cancer onset (33 vs 48 years, P?=?1.19×10(-3)). The median survival of mutation carriers following first cancer diagnosis was not significantly different from non-carriers. Only 10/17 (59%) pedigrees met classical or Chompret criteria for LFS. In summary, germline TP53 mutations are not rare in adult patients with sarcoma, with implications for screening, surveillance, treatment and genetic counselling of carriers and family members.
Tumor-infiltrating T lymphocytes (TILs) are observed in a number of human primary or metastatic tumors. Recently, gene expression profiling experiments suggested that the presence of T cells in metastatic melanomas before vaccinating the patients with tumor antigens could be a biomarker for clinical benefit from the vaccines. In this context, we review results pertaining to TILs in human melanomas, their prognostic value, and some possible reasons why their presence could help in selecting melanoma patients for vaccination against tumor-specific antigens.
Dendritic cell (DC) targeting in vivo has recently been shown to confer strong and protective cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL)-based immunity in tumor murine models. Our group has recently demonstrated in preclinical models that the infusion of genetically modified lymphocytes (GMLs) expressing the self/tumor antigen TRP-2 is able to elicit functional TRP-2-specific effectors with antitumor activity by targeting DCs in vivo. Here we have analyzed vaccine- and tumor-specific immune responses of 10 melanoma patients treated with autologous GMLs expressing the cancer germline gene MAGE-A3. Three of 10 patients treated with MAGE-A3-GML showed an increase of circulating anti-MAGE-A3 T cells, and developed skin delayed-type hypersensitivity to MAGE-A3. Interestingly, in 2 of these patients, with progressive and measurable tumors at study entry, anti-MAGE-A3 T cells were detected not only in the blood but also within tumors resected after vaccination. These results demonstrate that the infusion of MAGE-A3-GML elicits antitumor T cells, which are capable of trafficking to inflamed tissues and of infiltrating tumors. Clinical studies on a larger group of patients are needed to evaluate the clinical efficacy of such a strategy.
Lymphoid neogenesis, or the development of lymphoid structures in nonlymphoid organs, is frequently observed in chronically inflamed tissues, during the course of autoimmune, infectious, and chronic graft rejection diseases, in which a sustained lymphocyte activation occurs in the presence of persistent antigenic stimuli. The presence of such ectopic lymphoid structures has also been reported in primary lung, breast, and germline cancers, but not yet in melanoma. In this study, we observed ectopic lymphoid structures, defined as lymphoid follicles comprising clusters of B lymphocytes and follicular dendritic cells (DC), associated with high endothelial venules (HEV) and clusters of T cells and mature DCs, in 7 of 29 cutaneous metastases from melanoma patients. Some follicles contained germinal centers. In contrast to metastatic lesions, primary melanomas did not host follicles, but many contained HEVs, suggesting an incomplete lymphoid neogenesis. Analysis of the repertoire of rearranged immunoglobulin genes in the B cells of microdissected follicles revealed clonal amplification, somatic mutation and isotype switching, indicating a local antigen-driven B-cell response. Surprisingly, IgA responses were observed despite the nonmucosal location of the follicles. Taken together, our findings show the existence of lymphoid neogenesis in melanoma and suggest that the presence of functional ectopic lymphoid structures in direct contact with the tumor makes the local development of antimelanoma B- and T-cell responses possible.
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