The FLT3-ITD mutation is frequently observed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and is associated with poor prognosis. In such patients, FLT3 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are only partially effective and do not eliminate the leukemia stem cells (LSCs) that are assumed to be the source of treatment failure. Here, we show that the NAD-dependent SIRT1 deacetylase is selectively overexpressed in primary human FLT3-ITD AML LSCs. This SIRT1 overexpression is related to enhanced expression of the USP22 deubiquitinase induced by c-MYC, leading to reduced SIRT1 ubiquitination and enhanced stability. Inhibition of SIRT1 expression or activity reduced the growth of FLT3-ITD AML LSCs and significantly enhanced TKI-mediated killing of the cells. Therefore, these results identify a c-MYC-related network that enhances SIRT1 protein expression in human FLT3-ITD AML LSCs and contributes to their maintenance. Inhibition of this oncogenic network could be an attractive approach for targeting FLT3-ITD AML LSCs to improve treatment outcomes.
The small-molecule MDM2 antagonist nutlin-3 has proved to be an effective p53 activating therapeutic compound in several preclinical cancer models, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We and others have previously reported a vigorous acetylation of the p53 protein by nutlin-treatment. In this study we aimed to investigate the functional role of this p53 acetylation in nutlin-sensitivity, and further to explore if nutlin-induced protein acetylation in general could indicate novel targets for the enhancement of nutlin-based therapy.
Preclinical models of epithelial ovarian cancer have not been exploited to evaluate the clinical standard combination therapy of surgical debulking with follow-up chemotherapy. As surgery is critical to patient survival, here we establish a combined surgical/chemotherapy xenograft model of epithelial ovarian cancer and demonstrate its translational relevance.
Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most malignant brain tumor where patients survival is only 14.6 months, despite multimodal therapy with debulking surgery, concurrent chemotherapy and radiotherapy. There is an urgent, unmet need for novel, effective therapeutic strategies for this devastating disease. Although several immunotherapies are under development for the treatment of GBM patients, the use of natural killer (NK) cells is still marginal despite this being a promising approach to treat cancer. In regard of our knowledge on the role of NG2/CSPG4 in promoting GBM aggressiveness we investigated the potential of an innovative immunotherapeutic strategy combining mAb9.2.27 against NG2/CSPG4 and NK cells in preclinical animal models of GBM. Multiple immune escape mechanisms maintain the tumor microenvironment in an anti-inflammatory state to promote tumor growth, however, the distinct roles of resident microglia versus recruited macrophages is not elucidated. We hypothesized that exploiting the cytokine release capabilities of activated (NK) cells to reverse the anti-inflammatory axis combined with mAb9.2.27 targeting the NG2/CSPG4 may favor tumor destruction by editing pro-GBM immune responses. Combination treatment with NK+mAb9.2.27 diminished tumor growth that was associated with reduced tumor proliferation, increased cellular apoptosis and prolonged survival compared to vehicle and monotherapy controls. The therapeutic efficacy was mediated by recruitment of CCR2low macrophages into the tumor microenvironment, increased ED1 and MHC class II expression on microglia that might render them competent for GBM antigen presentation, as well as elevated IFN-? and TNF-? levels in the cerebrospinal fluid compared to controls. Depletion of systemic macrophages by liposome-encapsulated clodronate decreased the CCR2low macrophages recruited to the brain and abolished the beneficial outcomes. Moreover, mAb9.2.27 reversed tumor-promoting effects of patient-derived tumor-associated macrophage/microglia(TAM) ex vivo.Taken together, these findings indicate thatNK+mAb9.2.27 treatment may be an amenable therapeutic strategy to treat NG2/CSPG4 expressing GBMs. We provide a novel conceptual approach of combination immunotherapy for glioblastoma. The results traverse beyond the elucidation of NG2/CSPG4 as a therapeutic target, but demonstrate a proof of concept that this antibody may hold potential for the treatment of GBM by activation of tumor infiltrated microglia/macrophages.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most aggressive brain malignancy, is characterized by extensive cellular proliferation, angiogenesis, and single-cell infiltration into the brain. We have previously shown that a xenograft model based on serial xenotransplantation of human biopsy spheroids in immunodeficient rodents maintains the genotype and phenotype of the original patient tumor. The present work further extends this model for optical assessment of tumor engraftment and growth using bioluminescence imaging (BLI). A method for successful lentiviral transduction of the firefly luciferase gene into multicellular spheroids was developed and implemented to generate optically active patient tumor cells. Luciferase-expressing spheroids were injected into the brains of immunodeficient mice. BLI photon counts and tumor volumes from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were correlated. Luciferase-expressing tumors recapitulated the histopathologic hallmarks of human GBMs and showed proliferation rates and microvessel density counts similar to those of wild-type xenografts. Moreover, we detected widespread invasion of luciferase-positive tumor cells in the mouse brains. Herein we describe a novel optically active model of GBM that closely mimics human pathology with respect to invasion, angiogenesis, and proliferation indices. The model may thus be routinely used for the assessment of novel anti-GBM therapeutic approaches implementing well-established and cost-effective optical imaging strategies.
The carboxy-terminal truncated p53 alternative spliced isoforms, p53? and p53?, are expressed at disparate levels in cancer and are suggested to influence treatment response and therapy outcome. However, their functional role in cancer remains to be elucidated. We investigated their individual functionality in the p53(null) background of cell lines H1299 and SAOS-2 by stable retroviral transduction or transient transfection. Expression status of p53? and p53? protein was found to correlate with increased response to camptothecin and doxorubicin chemotherapy. Decreased DNA synthesis and clonogenicity in p53? and p53? congenic H1299 was accompanied by increased p21((CIP1/WAF1)), Bax and Mdm2 proteins. Chemotherapy induced p53 isoform degradation, most prominent for p53?. The proteasome inhibitor bortezomib substantially increased basal p53? protein level, while the level of p53? protein was unaffected. Treatment with dicoumarol, a putative blocker of the proteasome-related NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase NQO1, effectively attenuated basal p53? protein level in spite of bortezomib treatment. Although in vitro proliferation and clonogenicity assays indicated a weak suppressive effect by p53? and p53? expression, studies of in vivo subcutaneous H1299 tumor growth demonstrated a significantly increased growth by expression of either p53 isoforms. This study suggests that p53? and p53? share functionality in chemosensitizing and tumor growth enhancement but comprise distinct regulation at the protein level.
MicroRNAs play critical roles in tumorigenesis and metastasis. Here, we report the dual functions of miR-182 and miR-203 in our previously described prostate cell model. MiR-182 and miR-203 were completely repressed during epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) from prostate epithelial EP156T cells to the progeny mesenchymal nontransformed EPT1 cells. Re-expression of miR-182 or miR-203 in EPT1 cells and prostate cancer PC3 cells induced mesenchymal to epithelial transition (MET) features. Simultaneously, miR-182 and miR-203 provided EPT1 cells with the ability to self-sufficiency of growth signals, a well-recognized oncogenic feature. Gene expression profiling showed high overlap of the genes affected by miR-182 and miR-203. SNAI2 was identified as a common target of miR-182 and miR-203. Knock-down of SNAI2 in EPT1 cells phenocopied re-expression of either miR-182 or miR-203 regarding both MET and self-sufficiency of growth signals. Strikingly, considerable overlaps of changed genes were found between the re-expression of miR-182/203 and knock-down of SNAI2. Finally, P-cadherin was identified as a direct target of SNAI2. We conclude that miR-182 and miR-203 induce MET features and growth factor independent growth via repressing SNAI2 in prostate cells. Our findings shed new light on the roles of miR-182/203 in cancer related processes.
There is a lack of available methods to noninvasively quantify lymphatic function in small experimental animals, a necessity for studies on lymphatic system pathophysiology. We present a new method to quantify lymph flow in mice and rats, based on optically monitoring the depot clearance of near-infrared fluorescently labeled albumin and subsequent calculation of removal rate constants (k). BSA was conjugated with Alexa680 NHS ester and remained stable in protein-rich solutions without free dye dissociation. To assess lymph flow, mice or rats were imaged every 30 or 60 min during a 3- to 6-h period following an intradermal injection of 0.5 or 1 ?l Alexa680-albumin. Mice were awake between measurements, whereas rats were anesthetized throughout the experiment. The k, a parameter defined as equivalent to lymph flow, was calculated from the slopes of the resultant log-linear washout curves and averaged -0.40 ± 0.03 and -0.30 ± 0.02%/min for control C57BL/6 and C3H mice, respectively. Local administration of the vasoconstrictor endothelin-1 in mice led to a significant reduction in k, whereas overhydration in rats increased k, reflecting the coupling between capillary filtration and lymph flow. Furthermore, k was 50% of wild type in lymphedema Chy mice where dermal lymphatics are absent. We conclude that lymph flow can be determined as its rate constant k by optical imaging of depot clearance of submicroliter amounts of Alexa680-albumin. The method offers a minimally invasive, reproducible, and simple alternative to assess lymphatic function in mice and rats.
Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is pivotal in tumor metastasis. Our previous work reported an EMT model based on primary prostate epithelial cells (EP156T) which gave rise to cells with mesenchymal phenotype (EPT1) without malignant transformation. To promote prostate cell transformation, cells were maintained in saturation density cultures to select for cells overriding quiescence. Foci formed repeatedly following around 8 weeks in confluent EPT1 monolayers. Only later passage EPT1, but not EP156T cells of any passage, could form foci. Cells isolated from the foci were named EPT2 and formed robust colonies in soft agar, a malignant feature present neither in EP156T nor in EPT1 cells. EPT2 cells showed additional malignant traits in vitro, including higher ability to proliferate following confluence, higher resistance to apoptosis and lower dependence on exogenous growth factors than EP156T and EPT1 cells. Microarray profiling identified gene sets, many of which belong to cell junction modules, that changed expression from EP156T to EPT1 cells and continued to change from EPT1 to EPT2 cells. Our findings provide a novel stepwise cell culture model in which EMT emerges independently of transformation and is associated with subsequent accumulation of malignant features in prostate cells. Reprogramming of cell junction modules is involved in both steps.
Lentinan, a beta-glucan nutritional supplement isolated from the shitake mushroom (Lentula edodes), is a biological response modifier with immunostimulatory properties. Concomitantly, the role of beta-glucans as chemoimmunotherapeutic in a number of solid cancers has been widely documented. We investigated the effects of nutritional grade lentinan upon BN rats and in a preclinical syngeneic model of acute myeloid leukemia. BN rats supplemented daily with lentinan exhibited weight gains, increased white blood cells, monocytes, and circulating cytotoxic T-cells; and had a reduction in anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-4, IL-10, and additionally IL-6. Lentinan treatment of BN rats with BNML leukemia resulted in improved cage-side health and reduced cachexia in the terminal stage of this aggressive disease. Combination of lentinan with standards of care in acute myeloid leukemia, idarubicin, and cytarabine increased average survival compared with monotherapy and reduced cachexia. These results indicate that nutritional supplementation of cancer patients with lentinan should be further investigated.
Metastasis underlies the majority of cancer-related deaths. Thus, furthering our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that enable tumor cell dissemination is a vital health issue. Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions (EMTs) endow carcinoma cells with enhanced migratory and survival attributes that facilitate malignant progression. Characterization of EMT effectors is likely to yield new insights into metastasis and novel avenues for treatment. We show that the presence of the receptor tyrosine kinase Axl in primary breast cancers independently predicts strongly reduced overall patient survival, and that matched patient metastatic lesions show enhanced Axl expression. We demonstrate that Axl is strongly induced by EMT in immortalized mammary epithelial cells that establishes an autocrine signaling loop with its ligand, Gas6. Epiallelic RNA interference analysis in metastatic breast cancer cells delineated a distinct threshold of Axl expression for mesenchymal-like in vitro cell invasiveness and formation of tumors in foreign and tissue-engineered microenvironments in vivo. Importantly, in two different optical imaging-based experimental breast cancer models, Axl knockdown completely prevented the spread of highly metastatic breast carcinoma cells from the mammary gland to lymph nodes and several major organs and increased overall survival. These findings suggest that Axl represents a downstream effector of the tumor cell EMT that is required for breast cancer metastasis. Thus, the detection and targeted treatment of Axl-expressing tumors represents an important new therapeutic strategy for breast cancer.
Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) aid in tissue maintenance and repair by differentiating into specialized cell types. Due to this ability, hMSC are currently being evaluated for cell-based therapies of tissue injury and degenerative diseases. However, extensive expansion ex vivo is a prerequisite to obtain the cell numbers required for human cell-based therapy protocols. Recent studies indicate that hMSC may contribute to cancer development and progression either by acting as cancer-initiating cells or through interactions with stromal elements. If spontaneous transformation ex vivo occurs, this may jeopardize the use of hMSC as therapeutic tools. Whereas murine MSC readily undergo spontaneous transformation, there are conflicting reports about spontaneous transformation of hMSC. We have addressed this controversy in a two-center study by growing bone marrow-derived hMSC in long-term cultures (5-106 weeks). We report for the first time spontaneous malignant transformation to occur in 45.8% (11 of 24) of these cultures. In comparison with hMSC, the transformed mesenchymal cells (TMC) showed a significantly increased proliferation rate and altered morphology and phenotype. In contrast to hMSC, TMC grew well in soft agar assays and were unable to undergo complete differentiation. Importantly, TMC were highly tumorigenic, causing multiple fast-growing lung deposits when injected into immunodeficient mice. We conclude that spontaneous malignant transformation may represent a biohazard in long-term ex vivo expansion of hMSC. On the other hand, this spontaneous transformation process may represent a unique model for studying molecular pathways initiating malignant transformation of hMSC.
Elevated tumor interstitial fluid pressure (TIFP) is a characteristic of most solid tumors. Clinically, TIFP may hamper the uptake of chemotherapeutic drugs into the tumor tissue reducing their therapeutic efficacy. In this study, a means of modulating TIFP to increase the flux of macromolecules into tumor tissue is presented, which is based on the rationale that elevated plasma colloid osmotic pressure (COP) pulls water from tumor interstitium lowering the TIFP. Concentrated human serum albumin (20% HSA), used as an agent to enhance COP, reduced the TIFP time-dependently from 8 to 2 mm Hg in human tumor xenograft models bearing A431 epidermoid vulva carcinomas. To evaluate whether this reduction facilitates the uptake of macromolecules, the intratumoral distribution of fluorescently conjugated dextrans (2.5 mg/ml) and cetuximab (2.0 mg/ml) was probed using novel time domain nearinfrared fluorescence imaging. This method permitted discrimination and semiquantification of tumor-accumulated conjugate from background and unspecific probe fluorescence. The coadministration of 20% HSA together with either dextrans or cetuximab was found to lower the TIFP significantly and increase the concentration of the substances within the tumor tissue in comparison to control tumors. Furthermore, combined administration of 20% HSA plus cetuximab reduced the tumor growth significantly in comparison to standard cetuximab treatment. These data demonstrate that increased COP lowers the TIFP within hours and increases the uptake of therapeutic macromolecules into the tumor interstitium leading to reduced tumor growth. This model represents a novel approach to facilitate the delivery of therapeutics into tumor tissue, particularly monoclonal antibodies.
Targeting of signal transduction pathways and transcriptional regulation represents an attractive approach for less toxic anti-leukaemic therapy. We combined protein kinase A (PKA) activation with a pan-peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) activator tetradecylthioacetic acid, resulting in synergistic decrease in viability of AML cell lines. PKA isoform II activation appeared to be involved in inhibition of proliferation but not induction of apoptosis in HL-60 cells. Inhibition of CREB function protected against this anti-leukaemic effect with higher efficiency than enforced Bcl-2 expression. Preclinical studies employing the rat AML model Brown Norwegian Myeloid Leukaemia also indicated anti-leukaemic activity of the combination therapy in vivo. In conclusion, combined PKA and pan-PPAR activation should be explored further to determine its therapeutic potential.
NY-ESO-1 and LAGE-1 are cancer testis antigens with an ideal profile for tumor immunotherapy, combining up-regulation in many cancer types with highly restricted expression in normal tissues and sharing a common HLA-A*0201 epitope, 157-165. Here, we present data to describe the specificity and anti-tumor activity of a bifunctional ImmTAC, comprising a soluble, high-affinity T-cell receptor (TCR) specific for NY-ESO-1157-165 fused to an anti-CD3 scFv. This reagent, ImmTAC-NYE, is shown to kill HLA-A2, antigen-positive tumor cell lines, and freshly isolated HLA-A2- and LAGE-1-positive NSCLC cells. Employing time-domain optical imaging, we demonstrate in vivo targeting of fluorescently labelled high-affinity NYESO-specific TCRs to HLA-A2-, NY-ESO-1157-165-positive tumors in xenografted mice. In vivo ImmTAC-NYE efficacy was tested in a tumor model in which human lymphocytes were stably co-engrafted into NSG mice harboring tumor xenografts; efficacy was observed in both tumor prevention and established tumor models using a GFP fluorescence readout. Quantitative RT-PCR was used to analyze the expression of both NY-ESO-1 and LAGE-1 antigens in 15 normal tissues, 5 cancer cell lines, 10 NSCLC, and 10 ovarian cancer samples. Overall, LAGE-1 RNA was expressed at a greater frequency and at higher levels than NY-ESO-1 in the tumor samples. These data support the clinical utility of ImmTAC-NYE as an immunotherapeutic agent for a variety of cancers.
Antibodies play a fundamental role in diagnostic immunophenotyping of leukemias and in cell-targeting therapy. However, this versatility is not reflected in imaging diagnostics. In the present study, we labeled anti–human mAbs monochromatically against selected human myeloid markers expressed on acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells, all with the same near-infrared fluorochrome. In a novel “multiplexing” strategy, we then combined these mAbs to overcome the limiting target-to-background ratio to image multiple xenografts of AML. Time-domain imaging was used to discriminate autofluorescence from the distinct fluorophore-conjugated antibodies. Imaging with multiplexed mAbs demonstrated superior imaging of AML to green fluorescent protein or bioluminescence and permitted evaluation of therapeutic efficacy with the standard combination of anthracycline and cytarabine in primary patient xenografts. Multiplexing mAbs against CD11b and CD11c provided surrogate imaging biomarkers of differentiation therapy in an acute promyelocytic leukemia model treated with all-trans retinoic acid combined with the histone-deacetylase inhibitor valproic acid. We present herein an optimizedapplication of multiplexed immunolabeling in vivo for optical imaging of AML cellxenografts that provides reproducible, highly accurate disease staging and monitoring of therapeutic effects.
The ability to visualize reporter gene expression in vivo has revolutionized all facets of biologic investigation and none more so than imaging applications in oncology. Near-infrared reporter gene imaging may facilitate more accurate evaluation of chemotherapeutic response in preclinical models of orthotopic and metastatic cancers. We report the development of a cell permeable, quenched squarine probe (CytoCy5S), which is reduced by Escherichia coli nitroreductase (NTR), resulting in a near-infrared fluorescent product. Time-domain molecular imaging of NTR/CytoCy5S reporter platform permitted noninvasive monitoring of disease progression in orthotopic xenografts of disseminated leukemia, lung, and metastatic breast cancer. This methodology facilitated therapeutic evaluation of NTR gene-directed enzymatic prodrug therapy with conventional metronidazole antibiotics. These studies show NTR/CytoCy5S as a near-infrared gene reporter system with broad preclinical and prospective clinical applications within imaging, and gene therapy, of cancer.
The mechanisms of successful epigenetic reprogramming in cancer are not well characterized as they involve coordinated removal of repressive marks and deposition of activating marks by a large number of histone and DNA modification enzymes. Here, we have used a cross-species functional genomic approach to identify conserved genetic interactions to improve therapeutic effect of the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) valproic acid, which increases survival in more than 20% of patients with advanced acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Using a bidirectional synthetic lethality screen revealing genes that increased or decreased VPA sensitivity in C. elegans, we identified novel conserved sensitizers and synthetic lethal interactors of VPA. One sensitizer identified as a conserved determinant of therapeutic success of HDACi was UTX (KDM6A), which demonstrates a functional relationship between protein acetylation and lysine-specific methylation. The synthetic lethal screen identified resistance programs that compensated for the HDACi-induced global hyper-acetylation, and confirmed MAPKAPK2, HSP90AA1, HSP90AB1 and ACTB as conserved hubs in a resistance program for HDACi that are drugable in human AML cell lines. Hence, these resistance hubs represent promising novel targets for refinement of combinatorial epigenetic anti-cancer therapy.
The environments that harbor hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells are critical to explore for a better understanding of hematopoiesis during health and disease. These compartments often are inaccessible for controlled and rapid experimentation, thus limiting studies to the evaluation of conventional cell culture and transgenic animal models. Here we describe the manufacture and image-guided monitoring of an engineered microenvironment with user-defined properties that recruits hematopoietic progenitors into the implant. Using intravital imaging and fluorescence molecular tomography, we show in real time that the cell homing and retention process is efficient and durable for short- and long-term engraftment studies. Our results indicate that bone marrow stromal cells, precoated on the implant, accelerate the formation of new sinusoidal blood vessels with vascular integrity at the microcapillary level that enhances the recruitment hematopoietic progenitor cells to the site. This implantable construct can serve as a tool enabling the study of hematopoiesis.
Peripheral leukocytes may reflect systemic disease and stress states through their gene expression profile. Subsequent protein analyses of leukocytes are hypothesized to provide essential information regarding systemic diseases. We have developed a protein biosignature analysis of the tumour suppressor and cell stress sensor p53 based on two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and immunoblotting, and utilize fluorescently labelled reference standards to significantly improve the alignment and comparison of biosignatures, including full-length p53 and isoforms p53? and p53?. Analysis of the p53 biosignatures of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 526 healthy individuals and 65 acute myeloid leukaemia patients indicated a novel putative p53 protein variant in a subset of individuals (227 of 526 healthy tested). The p53 variant was more distinct in the reference standard aligned biosignatures of healthy individuals, compared to the non-standard aligned leukaemia biosignatures. This approximately 2 kDa heavier variant of p53 appeared with similar frequency in leukemic and healthy test persons, without coinciding with known splice forms or post-translational modifications of p53. We propose that a standardized leukocyte protein biosignature of p53 provides a powerful research tool and indicate how p53 protein biosignatures may be used in future diagnostics. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Integrated omics.
Adenocarcinoma of the pancreas remains one of the most lethal human cancers. The high mortality rates associated with this form of cancer are subsequent to late-stage clinical presentation and diagnosis, when surgery is rarely possible and of modest chemotherapeutic impact. Survival rates following diagnosis with advanced pancreatic cancer are very low; typical mortality rates of 50 % are expected within 3 months of diagnosis. However, adjuvant chemotherapy improves the prognosis of patients even after palliative surgery, and successful newer neoadjuvant chemotherapeutical modalities have recently been reported. For patients whose tumours appear unresectable, chemotherapy remains the only option. During the past two decades, the nucleoside analogue gemcitabine has become the first-line chemotherapy for pancreatic adenocarcinoma. In this study, we aim to increase the delivery of gemcitabine to pancreatic tumours by exploring the effect of sonoporation for localised drug delivery of gemcitabine in an orthotopic xenograft mouse model of pancreatic cancer.
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