Despite the development of potent RAF/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway inhibitors, only a fraction of BRAF-mutant patients benefit from treatment with these drugs. Using a combined chemogenomics and chemoproteomics approach, we identify drug-induced RAS-RAF-MEK complex formation in a subset of BRAF-mutant cancer cells characterized by primary resistance to vemurafenib. In these cells, autocrine interleukin-6 (IL-6) secretion may contribute to the primary resistance phenotype via induction of JAK/STAT3 and MAPK signaling. In a subset of cell lines, combined IL-6/MAPK inhibition is able to overcome primary resistance to BRAF-targeted therapy. Overall, we show that the signaling plasticity exerted by primary resistant BRAF-mutant cells is achieved by their ability to mimic signaling features of oncogenic RAS, a strategy that we term "oncogene mimicry." This model may guide future strategies for overcoming primary resistance observed in these tumors.
Object The management of patients with locally recurrent or metastatic chordoma is a challenge. Preclinical disease models would greatly accelerate the development of novel therapeutic options for chordoma. The authors sought to establish and characterize a primary xenograft model for chordoma that faithfully recapitulates the molecular features of human chordoma. Methods Chordoma tissue from a recurrent clival tumor was obtained at the time of surgery and implanted subcutaneously into NOD-SCID interleukin-2 receptor gamma (IL-2R?) null (NSG) mouse hosts. Successful xenografts were established and passaged in the NSG mice. The recurrent chordoma and the derived human chordoma xenograft were compared by histology, immunohistochemistry, and phospho-specific immunohistochemistry. Based on these results, mice harboring subcutaneous chordoma xenografts were treated with the mTOR inhibitor MLN0128, and tumors were subjected to phosphoproteome profiling using Luminex technology and immunohistochemistry. Results SF8894 is a novel chordoma xenograft established from a recurrent clival chordoma that faithfully recapitulates the histopathological, immunohistological, and phosphoproteomic features of the human tumor. The PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway was activated, as evidenced by diffuse immunopositivity for phospho-epitopes, in the recurrent chordoma and in the established xenograft. Treatment of mice harboring chordoma xenografts with MLN0128 resulted in decreased activity of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway as indicated by decreased phospho-mTOR levels (p = 0.019, n = 3 tumors per group). Conclusions The authors report the establishment of SF8894, a recurrent clival chordoma xenograft that mimics many of the features of the original tumor and that should be a useful preclinical model for recurrent chordoma.
Mutations in the KRAS oncogene are dominant features in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA). Because KRAS itself is considered "undruggable," targeting pathways downstream of KRAS are being explored as a rational therapeutic strategy. We investigated the consequences of MAP-ERK kinase (MEK) inhibition in a large PDA cell line panel. Inhibition of MEK activated phosphoinositide 3-kinase in an EGF receptor (EGFR)-dependent fashion and combinations of MEK and EGFR inhibitors synergistically induced apoptosis. This combinatorial effect was observed in the epithelial but not mesenchymal subtype of PDA. RNA expression analysis revealed predictors of susceptibility to the combination, including E-cadherin, HER3, and the miR200-family of microRNAs, whereas expression of the transcription factor ZEB1 was associated with resistance to the drug combination. Knockdown of HER3 in epithelial-type and ZEB1 in mesenchymal-type PDA cell lines resulted in sensitization to the combination of MEK and EGFR inhibitors. Thus, our findings suggest a new, subtype-specific, and personalized therapeutic strategy for pancreatic cancer.
Components of the plasminogen activation system, which are overexpressed in aggressive breast cancer subtypes, offer appealing targets for development of new diagnostics and therapeutics. By comparing gene expression data in patient populations and cultured cell lines, we identified elevated levels of the urokinase plasminogen activation receptor (uPAR, PLAUR) in highly aggressive breast cancer subtypes and cell lines. Recombinant human anti-uPAR antagonistic antibodies exhibited potent binding in vitro to the surface of cancer cells expressing uPAR. In vivo these antibodies detected uPAR expression in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) tumor xenografts using near infrared imaging and (111)In single-photon emission computed tomography. Antibody-based uPAR imaging probes accurately detected small disseminated lesions in a tumor metastasis model, complementing the current clinical imaging standard (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose at detecting non-glucose-avid metastatic lesions. A monotherapy study using the antagonistic antibodies resulted in a significant decrease in tumor growth in a TNBC xenograft model. In addition, a radioimmunotherapy study, using the anti-uPAR antibodies conjugated to the therapeutic radioisotope (177)Lu, found that they were effective at reducing tumor burden in vivo. Taken together, our results offer a preclinical proof of concept for uPAR targeting as a strategy for breast cancer diagnosis and therapy using this novel human antibody technology.
Phosphorylation of the ?-subunit of initiation factor 2 (eIF2) controls protein synthesis by a conserved mechanism. In metazoa, distinct stress conditions activate different eIF2? kinases (PERK, PKR, GCN2, and HRI) that converge on phosphorylating a unique serine in eIF2?. This collection of signaling pathways is termed the integrated stress response (ISR). eIF2? phosphorylation diminishes protein synthesis, while allowing preferential translation of some mRNAs. Starting with a cell-based screen for inhibitors of PERK signaling, we identified a small molecule, named ISRIB, that potently (IC50 = 5 nM) reverses the effects of eIF2? phosphorylation. ISRIB reduces the viability of cells subjected to PERK-activation by chronic endoplasmic reticulum stress. eIF2? phosphorylation is implicated in memory consolidation. Remarkably, ISRIB-treated mice display significant enhancement in spatial and fear-associated learning. Thus, memory consolidation is inherently limited by the ISR, and ISRIB releases this brake. As such, ISRIB promises to contribute to our understanding and treatment of cognitive disorders. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00498.001.
As a model system for the understanding of human cancer, the mouse has proved immensely valuable. Indeed, studies of mouse models have helped to define the nature of cancer as a genetic disease and demonstrated the causal role of genetic events found in tumors. As an experimental platform, they have provided critical insight into the process of tumor metastasis in the lymphovascular system. Once viewed with skepticism, mouse models are now an integral arm of basic and clinical cancer research. The use of a genetically tractable organism that shares organ systems and an immense degree of genetic similarity to humans provides a means to examine multiple features of human disease. Mouse models enable development and testing of new approaches to disease prevention and treatment, identification of early diagnostic markers and novel therapeutic targets, and an understanding of the in vivo biology and genetics of tumor initiation, promotion, progression, and metastasis. This review summarizes recent mouse models for lymphangiogenesis and the process of lymphovascular metastasis, focusing on the use of the cornea as an experimental platform for lymphangiogenesis in inflammation and immunity, and on the use of molecular and viral vector mediated imaging and to identify and monitor lymph node metastases of prostate cancer.
TGF-? is produced excessively by many solid tumors and can drive malignant progression through multiple effects on the tumor cell and microenvironment. TGF-? signaling pathway inhibitors have shown efficacy in preclinical models of metastatic cancer. Here, we investigated the effect of systemic LY2109761, a TGF-? type I/II receptor (T?RI/T?RII) kinase inhibitor, in both a tumor allograft model and the mouse skin model of de novo chemically induced carcinogenesis in vivo. Systemic LY2109761 administration disrupted tumor vascular architecture and reduced myofibroblast differentiation of E4 skin carcinoma cells in a tumor allograft. In the 7,12-dimethyl-benzanthracene plus phorbol myristate acetate-induced skin chemical carcinogenesis model, acute dosing of established naive primary carcinomas with LY2109761 (100 mg/kg) every 8 hours for 10 days (100 mg/kg) diminished phospho-Smad2 (P-Smad2) levels and marginally decreased the expression of inflammatory and invasive markers. Sustained exposure to LY2109761 (100 mg/kg/d) throughout the tumor outgrowth phase had no effect on carcinoma latency or incidence. However, molecular analysis of resultant carcinomas by microarray gene expression, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry suggests that long-term LY2109761 exposure leads to the outgrowth of carcinomas with elevated P-Smad2 levels that do not respond to drug. This is the first description of acquired resistance to a small-molecule inhibitor of the T?RI/T?RII kinase. Resultant carcinomas were more aggressive and inflammatory in nature, with delocalized E-cadherin and elevated expression of Il23a, laminin V, and matrix metalloproteinases. Therefore, TGF-? inhibitors might be clinically useful for applications requiring acute administration, but long-term patient exposure to such drugs should be undertaken with caution.
Targeting of pathways downstream of RAS represents a promising therapeutic strategy for pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the USA, since activation of the Raf-MEK-ERK and PI3K-AKT pathways is found frequently in this disease and is associated with poor prognosis. Taking advantage of a panel of human PDAC cell lines and specific inhibitors of PI3K and/or mTOR, we systematically address the question whether dual-targeted inhibition of the PI3K and mTOR pathways offers advantages over single-targeted inhibition of PI3K in PDAC. We observe greater overall susceptibility of cell lines to dual inhibition compared to targeting PI3K alone. However, we find that dual inhibition of PI3K and mTOR induces autophagy to a greater extent than inhibition of each target alone. In agreement with this, we show that combined administration of PI3K/mTOR and autophagy inhibitors results in increased anti-tumor activity in vitro and in vivo in models of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. XL765, a PI3K/mTOR inhibitor used in our in vivo studies, is currently undergoing clinical evaluation in a variety of cancer types, while the autophagy inhibitor chloroquine is a widely used anti-malaria compound. Thus, our studies provide rationale for clinical development of combinations of these compounds for the treatment of pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
About 25% of breast cancers harbor the amplified oncogene human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) and are dependent on HER2 kinase function, identifying HER2 as a vulnerable target for therapy. However, HER2-HER3 signaling is buffered so that it is protected against a nearly two-log inhibition of HER2 catalytic activity; this buffering is driven by the negative regulation of HER3 by Akt. We have now further characterized HER2-HER3 signaling activity and have shown that the compensatory buffering prevents apoptotic tumor cell death from occurring as a result of the combined loss of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and Akt signaling. To overcome the cancer cells compensatory mechanisms, we coadministered a phosphoinositide 3-kinase-mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor and a HER2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). This treatment strategy proved equivocal because it induced both TKI-sensitizing and TKI-desensitizing effects and robust cross-compensation of MAPK and Akt signaling pathways. Noting that HER2-HER3 activity was completely inhibited by higher, fully inactivating doses of TKI, we then attempted to overcome the cells compensatory buffering with this higher dose. This treatment crippled all downstream signaling and induced tumor apoptosis. Although such high doses of TKI are toxic in vivo when given continuously, we found that intermittent doses of TKI administered to mice produced sequential cycles of tumor apoptosis and ultimately complete tumor regression in mouse models, with little toxicity. This strategy for inactivation of HER2-HER3 tumorigenic activity is proposed for clinical testing.
The cell surface protease membrane-type serine protease-1 (MT-SP1), also known as matriptase, is often upregulated in epithelial cancers. We hypothesized that dysregulation of MT-SP1 with regard to its cognate inhibitor hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor-1 (HAI-1), a situation that increases proteolytic activity, might be exploited for imaging purposes to differentiate malignant from normal tissue. In this study, we show that MT-SP1 is active on cancer cells and that its activity may be targeted in vivo for tumor detection. A proteolytic activity assay with several MT-SP1-positive human cancer cell lines showed that MT-SP1 antibodies that inhibit recombinant enzyme activity in vitro also bind and inhibit the full-length enzyme expressed on cells. In contrast, in the same assay, MT-SP1-negative cancer cell lines were inactive. Fluorescence microscopy confirmed the cell surface localization of labeled antibodies bound to MT-SP1-positive cells. To evaluate in vivo targeting capability, 0.7 to 2 nmoles of fluorescently labeled antibodies were administered to mice bearing tumors that were positive or negative for MT-SP1. Antibodies localized to MT-SP1-positive tumors (n = 3), permitting visualization of MT-SP1 activity, whereas MT-SP1-negative tumors (n = 2) were not visualized. Our findings define MT-SP1 activity as a useful biomarker to visualize epithelial cancers using a noninvasive antibody-based method.
Androgen receptor (AR) inhibitors are used to treat multiple human diseases, including hirsutism, benign prostatic hypertrophy, and prostate cancer, but all available anti-androgens target only ligand binding, either by reduction of available hormone or by competitive antagonism. New strategies are needed, and could have an important impact on therapy. One approach could be to target other cellular mechanisms required for receptor activation. In prior work, we used a cell-based assay of AR conformation change to identify non-ligand inhibitors of AR activity. Here, we characterize 2 compounds identified in this screen: pyrvinium pamoate, a Food and Drug Administration-approved drug, and harmol hydrochloride, a natural product. Each compound functions by a unique, non-competitive mechanism and synergizes with competitive antagonists to disrupt AR activity. Harmol blocks DNA occupancy by AR, whereas pyrvinium does not. Pyrvinium inhibits AR-dependent gene expression in the prostate gland in vivo, and induces prostate atrophy. These results highlight new therapeutic strategies to inhibit AR activity.
The frequently elevated activities of the c-src and c-yes products in human epithelial tumors suggest that these activated tyrosine kinases have tumorigenic functions analogous to the v-src and v-yes oncogene products. Studies of v-src-transformed fibroblasts have identified many of the effectors of this potent oncogene; however, because c-src and c-yes lack the mutational and promiscuous activities of their retroviral oncogene homologues, their presumptive tumorigenic functions in human epithelial tumors are more subtle, less well-defined, and await identification of possible effectors more directly relevant to epithelial cells.
Multimodality imaging based on complementary detection principles has broad clinical applications and promises to improve the accuracy of medical diagnosis. This means that a tracer particle advantageously incorporates multiple functionalities into a single delivery vehicle. In the present work, we explore a unique combination of MRI and photoacoustic tomography (PAT) to detect picomolar concentrations of nanoparticles. The nanoconstruct consists of ferromagnetic (Co) particles coated with gold (Au) for biocompatibility and a unique shape that enables optical absorption over a broad range of frequencies. The end result is a dual-modality probe useful for the detection of trace amounts of nanoparticles in biological tissues, in which MRI provides volume detection, whereas PAT performs edge detection.
TGFbeta ligands act as tumor suppressors in early stage tumors but are paradoxically diverted into potent prometastatic factors in advanced cancers. The molecular nature of this switch remains enigmatic. Here, we show that TGFbeta-dependent cell migration, invasion and metastasis are empowered by mutant-p53 and opposed by p63. Mechanistically, TGFbeta acts in concert with oncogenic Ras and mutant-p53 to induce the assembly of a mutant-p53/p63 protein complex in which Smads serve as essential platforms. Within this ternary complex, p63 functions are antagonized. Downstream of p63, we identified two candidate metastasis suppressor genes associated with metastasis risk in a large cohort of breast cancer patients. Thus, two common oncogenic lesions, mutant-p53 and Ras, selected in early neoplasms to promote growth and survival, also prefigure a cellular set-up with particular metastasis proclivity by TGFbeta-dependent inhibition of p63 function.
Topotecan (TPT), a highly active anticancer camptothecin drug, would benefit from nanocarrier-mediated site-specific and intracellular delivery because of a labile lactone ring whose hydrolysis inactivates the drug, poor cellular uptake resulting from both lactone hydrolysis and a titratable phenol hydroxyl, and the schedule-dependency of its efficacy due to its mechanism of action. We have encapsulated topotecan in liposomes using transmembrane gradients of triethylammonium salts of polyphosphate (Pn) or sucroseoctasulfate (SOS). Circulation lifetimes were prolonged, and the rate of drug release in vivo depended on the drug load (T(1/2)=5.4 h vs. 11.2 h for 124 and 260 g TPT/mol PL, respectively) and the nature of intraliposomal drug complexing agent used to stabilize the nanoliposome formulation (T(1/2)=11.2 h vs. 27.3 h for Pn and SOS, respectively). Anti-EGFR and anti-HER2-immunoliposomal formulations dramatically increased uptake of topotecan compared to nontargeted nanoliposomal topotecan and poorly permeable free topotecan in receptor-overexpressing cancer cell lines, with a corresponding increase in cytotoxicity in multiple breast cancer cell lines and improved antitumor activity against HER2-overexpressing human breast cancer (BT474) xenografts. We conclude that stabilization of topotecan in nanoliposomes significantly improves the targetability and pharmacokinetic profile of topotecan, allowing for highly active formulations against solid tumors and immunotargeting to cancer-overexpressing cell surface receptors.
Proteases responsible for the increased peritumoral proteolysis associated with cancer represent functional biomarkers for monitoring tumorigenesis. One attractive extracellular biomarker is the transmembrane serine protease matriptase. Found on the surface of epithelial cells, the activity of matriptase is regulated by its cognate inhibitor hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor-1 (HAI-1). Quantitative mass spectrometry allowed us to show that, in selected cancers, HAI-1 expression decreases, leading to active matriptase. A preclinical probe specific for the measurement of emergent active matriptase was developed. Using an active-site-specific, recombinant human antibody for matriptase, we found that the selective targeting of active matriptase can be used to visualize the tumorigenic epithelium. Live-cell fluorescence imaging validated the selectivity of the antibody in vitro by showing that the probe localized only to cancer cell lines with active matriptase on the surface. Immunofluorescence with the antibody documented significant levels of active matriptase in 68% of primary and metastatic colon cancer sections from tissue microarrays. Labeling of the active form of matriptase in vivo was measured in human colon cancer xenografts and in a patient-derived xenograft model using near-infrared and single-photon emission computed tomography imaging. Tumor uptake of the radiolabeled antibody, (111)In-A11, by active matriptase was high in xenografts (28% injected dose per gram) and was blocked in vivo by the addition of a matriptase-specific variant of ecotin. These findings suggest, through a HAI-1-dependent mechanism, that emergent active matriptase is a functional biomarker of the transformed epithelium and that its proteolytic activity can be exploited to noninvasively evaluate tumorigenesis in vivo.
KRAS mutation is a hallmark of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) but remains an intractable pharmacologic target. Consequently, defining RAS effector pathway(s) required for PDA initiation and maintenance is critical to improve treatment of this disease. Here, we show that expression of BRAF(V600E), but not PIK3CA(H1047R), in the mouse pancreas leads to pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) lesions. Moreover, concomitant expression of BRAF(V600E) and TP53(R270H) result in lethal PDA. We tested pharmacologic inhibitors of RAS effectors against multiple human PDA cell lines. Mitogen-activated protein (MAP)/extracellular signal-regulated (ERK) kinase (MEK) inhibition was highly effective both in vivo and in vitro and was synergistic with AKT inhibition in most cell lines tested. We show that RAF?MEK?ERK signaling is central to the initiation and maintenance of PDA and to rational combination strategies in this disease. These results emphasize the value of leveraging multiple complementary experimental systems to prioritize pathways for effective intervention strategies in PDA.
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