Drug-tolerance is an acute defense response prior to a fully drug-resistant state and tumor relapse, however there are few therapeutic agents targeting drug-tolerance in the clinic. Here we show that miR-147b initiates a reversible tolerant-state to the EGFR inhibitor osimertinib in non-small cell lung cancer. With miRNA-seq analysis we find that miR-147b is the most upregulated microRNA in osimertinib-tolerant and mutated lung cancer cells. Whole transcriptome analysis of single-cell derived clones reveals a link between osimertinib-tolerance and pseudohypoxia responses irrespective of oxygen levels. Further metabolomics and genetic studies demonstrate that osimertinib-tolerance is driven by miR-147b repression of VHL and succinate dehydrogenase linked to the tricarboxylic acid cycle and pseudohypoxia pathways. Finally, pretreatment with a miR-147b inhibitor delays osimertinib-associated drug tolerance in patient-derived three-dimensional (3D) structures. This link between miR-147b and tricarboxylic acid cycle may provide promising targets for preventing tumor relapse.
Mitochondrial apoptosis can be effectively targeted in lymphoid malignancies with the FDA-approved B cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) inhibitor venetoclax, but resistance to this agent is emerging. We show that venetoclax resistance in chronic lymphocytic leukemia is associated with complex clonal shifts. To identify determinants of resistance, we conducted parallel genome-scale screens of the BCL-2-driven OCI-Ly1 lymphoma cell line after venetoclax exposure along with integrated expression profiling and functional characterization of drug-resistant and engineered cell lines. We identified regulators of lymphoid transcription and cellular energy metabolism as drivers of venetoclax resistance in addition to the known involvement by BCL-2 family members, which were confirmed in patient samples. Our data support the implementation of combinatorial therapy with metabolic modulators to address venetoclax resistance.
Myoepithelial cells play key roles in normal mammary gland development and in limiting pre-invasive to invasive breast tumor progression, yet their differentiation and perturbation in ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) are poorly understood. Here, we investigated myoepithelial cells in normal breast tissues of BRCA1 and BRCA2 germline mutation carriers and in non-carrier controls, and in sporadic DCIS. We found that in the normal breast of non-carriers, myoepithelial cells frequently co-express the p63 and TCF7 transcription factors and that p63 and TCF7 show overlapping chromatin peaks associated with differentiated myoepithelium-specific genes. In contrast, in normal breast tissues of BRCA1 mutation carriers the frequency of p63TCF7 myoepithelial cells is significantly decreased and p63 and TCF7 chromatin peaks do not overlap. These myoepithelial perturbations in normal breast tissues of BRCA1 germline mutation carriers may play a role in their higher risk of breast cancer. The fraction of p63TCF7 myoepithelial cells is also significantly decreased in DCIS, which may be associated with invasive progression.
High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) is often sensitive to initial treatment with platinum and taxane combination chemotherapy, but most patients relapse with chemotherapy-resistant disease. To systematically identify genes modulating chemotherapy response, we performed pooled functional genomic screens in HGSOC cell lines treated with cisplatin, paclitaxel, or cisplatin plus paclitaxel. Genes in the intrinsic pathway of apoptosis were among the top candidate resistance genes in both gain-of-function and loss-of-function screens. In an open reading frame overexpression screen, followed by a mini-pool secondary screen, anti-apoptotic genes including (BCL-XL) and (BCL-W) were associated with chemotherapy resistance. In a CRISPR-Cas9 knockout screen, loss of decreased cell survival whereas loss of proapoptotic genes promoted resistance. To dissect the role of individual anti-apoptotic proteins in HGSOC chemotherapy response, we evaluated overexpression or inhibition of BCL-2, BCL-XL, BCL-W, and MCL1 in HGSOC cell lines. Overexpression of anti-apoptotic proteins decreased apoptosis and modestly increased cell viability upon cisplatin or paclitaxel treatment. Conversely, specific inhibitors of BCL-XL, MCL1, or BCL-XL/BCL-2, but not BCL-2 alone, enhanced cell death when combined with cisplatin or paclitaxel. Anti-apoptotic protein inhibitors also sensitized HGSOC cells to the poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitor olaparib. These unbiased screens highlight anti-apoptotic proteins as mediators of chemotherapy resistance in HGSOC, and support inhibition of BCL-XL and MCL1, alone or combined with chemotherapy or targeted agents, in treatment of primary and recurrent HGSOC. Anti-apoptotic proteins modulate drug resistance in ovarian cancer, and inhibitors of BCL-XL or MCL1 promote cell death in combination with chemotherapy.
CD8 T cell exhaustion is a state of dysfunction acquired in chronic viral infection and cancer, characterized by the formation of Slamf6 progenitor exhausted and Tim-3 terminally exhausted subpopulations through unknown mechanisms. Here we establish the phosphatase PTPN2 as a new regulator of the differentiation of the terminally exhausted subpopulation that functions by attenuating type 1 interferon signaling. Deletion of Ptpn2 in CD8 T cells increased the generation, proliferative capacity and cytotoxicity of Tim-3 cells without altering Slamf6 numbers during lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus clone 13 infection. Likewise, Ptpn2 deletion in CD8 T cells enhanced Tim-3 anti-tumor responses and improved tumor control. Deletion of Ptpn2 throughout the immune system resulted in MC38 tumor clearance and improved programmed cell death-1 checkpoint blockade responses to B16 tumors. Our results indicate that increasing the number of cytotoxic Tim-3CD8 T cells can promote effective anti-tumor immunity and implicate PTPN2 in immune cells as an attractive cancer immunotherapy target.
Multiplexed tissue imaging enables precise, spatially resolved enumeration and characterization of cell types and states in human resection specimens. A growing number of methods applicable to formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue sections have been described, the majority of which rely on antibodies for antigen detection and mapping. This protocol provides step-by-step procedures for confirming the selectivity and specificity of antibodies used in fluorescence-based tissue imaging and for the construction and validation of antibody panels. Although the protocol is implemented using tissue-based cyclic immunofluorescence (t-CyCIF) as an imaging platform, these antibody-testing methods are broadly applicable. We demonstrate assembly of a 16-antibody panel for enumerating and localizing T cells and B cells, macrophages, and cells expressing immune checkpoint regulators. The protocol is accessible to individuals with experience in microscopy and immunofluorescence; some experience in computation is required for data analysis. A typical 30-antibody dataset for 20 FFPE slides can be generated within 2 weeks.
T cell stimulation is metabolically demanding. To exit quiescence, T cells rely on environmental nutrients, including glucose and the amino acids glutamine, leucine, serine, and arginine. The expression of transporters for these nutrients is tightly regulated and required for T cell activation. In contrast to these amino acids, which are essential or require multi-step biosynthesis, alanine can be made from pyruvate by a single transamination. Here, we show that extracellular alanine is nevertheless required for efficient exit from quiescence during naive T cell activation and memory T cell restimulation. Alanine deprivation leads to metabolic and functional impairments. Mechanistically, this vulnerability reflects the low expression of alanine aminotransferase, the enzyme required for interconverting pyruvate and alanine, whereas activated T cells instead induce alanine transporters. Stable isotope tracing reveals that alanine is not catabolized but instead supports protein synthesis. Thus, T cells depend on exogenous alanine for protein synthesis and normal activation.
Evidence that some high-impact biomedical results cannot be repeated has stimulated interest in practices that generate findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR) data. Multiple papers have identified specific examples of irreproducibility, but practical ways to make data more reproducible have not been widely studied. Here, five research centers in the NIH LINCS Program Consortium investigate the reproducibility of a prototypical perturbational assay: quantifying the responsiveness of cultured cells to anti-cancer drugs. Such assays are important for drug development, studying cellular networks, and patient stratification. While many experimental and computational factors impact intra- and inter-center reproducibility, the factors most difficult to identify and control are those with a strong dependency on biological context. These factors often vary in magnitude with the drug being analyzed and with growth conditions. We provide ways to identify such context-sensitive factors, thereby improving both the theory and practice of reproducible cell-based assays.
The target profiles of many drugs are established early in their development and are not systematically revisited at the time of FDA approval. Thus, it is often unclear whether therapeutics with the same nominal targets but different chemical structures are functionally equivalent. In this paper we use five different phenotypic and biochemical assays to compare approved inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases 4/6-collectively regarded as breakthroughs in the treatment of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. We find that transcriptional, proteomic, and phenotypic changes induced by palbociclib, ribociclib, and abemaciclib differ significantly; abemaciclib in particular has advantageous activities partially overlapping those of alvocidib, an older polyselective CDK inhibitor. In cells and mice, abemaciclib inhibits kinases other than CDK4/6 including CDK2/cyclin A/E-implicated in resistance to CDK4/6 inhibition-and CDK1/cyclin B. The multifaceted experimental and computational approaches described here therefore uncover underappreciated differences in CDK4/6 inhibitor activities with potential importance in treating human patients.
Activation of tumor suppressors for the treatment of human cancer has been a long sought, yet elusive, strategy. PTEN is a critical tumor suppressive phosphatase that is active in its dimer configuration at the plasma membrane. Polyubiquitination by the ubiquitin E3 ligase WWP1 (WW domain-containing ubiquitin E3 ligase 1) suppressed the dimerization, membrane recruitment, and function of PTEN. Either genetic ablation or pharmacological inhibition of WWP1 triggered PTEN reactivation and unleashed tumor suppressive activity. appears to be a direct MYC (MYC proto-oncogene) target gene and was critical for MYC-driven tumorigenesis. We identified indole-3-carbinol, a compound found in cruciferous vegetables, as a natural and potent WWP1 inhibitor. Thus, our findings unravel a potential therapeutic strategy for cancer prevention and treatment through PTEN reactivation.
Most human tumours are heterogeneous, composed of cellular clones with different properties present at variable frequencies. Highly heterogeneous tumours have poor clinical outcomes, yet the underlying mechanism remains poorly understood. Here, we show that minor subclones of breast cancer cells expressing IL11 and FIGF (VEGFD) cooperate to promote metastatic progression and generate polyclonal metastases composed of driver and neutral subclones. Expression profiling of the epithelial and stromal compartments of monoclonal and polyclonal primary and metastatic lesions revealed that this cooperation is indirect, mediated through the local and systemic microenvironments. We identified neutrophils as a leukocyte population stimulated by the IL11-expressing minor subclone and showed that the depletion of neutrophils prevents metastatic outgrowth. Single-cell RNA-seq of CD45 cell populations from primary tumours, blood and lungs demonstrated that IL11 acts on bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells, which induce pro-tumorigenic and pro-metastatic neutrophils. Our results indicate key roles for non-cell-autonomous drivers and minor subclones in metastasis.
Necroptosis, a cell death pathway mediated by the RIPK1-RIPK3-MLKL signaling cascade downstream of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), has been implicated in many inflammatory diseases. Members of the TAM (Tyro3, Axl, and Mer) family of receptor tyrosine kinases are known for their anti-apoptotic, oncogenic, and anti-inflammatory roles. Here, we identify an unexpected role of TAM kinases as promoters of necroptosis, a pro-inflammatory necrotic cell death. Pharmacologic or genetic targeting of TAM kinases results in a potent inhibition of necroptotic death in various cellular models. We identify phosphorylation of MLKL Tyr376 as a direct point of input from TAM kinases into the necroptosis signaling. The oligomerization of MLKL, but not its membranal translocation or phosphorylation by RIPK3, is controlled by TAM kinases. Importantly, both knockout and inhibition of TAM kinases protect mice from systemic inflammatory response syndrome. In conclusion, this study discovers that immunosuppressant TAM kinases are promoters of pro-inflammatory necroptosis, shedding light on the biological complexity of the regulation of inflammation.
Therapies that target the function of immune cells have significant clinical efficacy in diseases such as cancer and autoimmunity. Although functional genomics has accelerated therapeutic target discovery in cancer, its use in primary immune cells is limited because vector delivery is inefficient and can perturb cell states. Here we describe CHIME: CHimeric IMmune Editing, a CRISPR-Cas9 bone marrow delivery system to rapidly evaluate gene function in innate and adaptive immune cells in vivo without ex vivo manipulation of these mature lineages. This approach enables efficient deletion of genes of interest in major immune lineages without altering their development or function. We use this approach to perform an in vivo pooled genetic screen and identify Ptpn2 as a negative regulator of CD8 T cell-mediated responses to LCMV Clone 13 viral infection. These findings indicate that this genetic platform can enable rapid target discovery through pooled screening in immune cells in vivo.
Drosophila Lgl and its mammalian homologues, LLGL1 and LLGL2, are scaffolding proteins that regulate the establishment of apical-basal polarity in epithelial cells. Whereas Lgl functions as a tumour suppressor in Drosophila, the roles of mammalian LLGL1 and LLGL2 in cancer are unclear. The majority (about 75%) of breast cancers express oestrogen receptors (ERs), and patients with these tumours receive endocrine treatment. However, the development of resistance to endocrine therapy and metastatic progression are leading causes of death for patients with ER disease. Here we report that, unlike LLGL1, LLGL2 is overexpressed in ER breast cancer and promotes cell proliferation under nutrient stress. LLGL2 regulates cell surface levels of a leucine transporter, SLC7A5, by forming a trimeric complex with SLC7A5 and a regulator of membrane fusion, YKT6, to promote leucine uptake and cell proliferation. The oestrogen receptor targets LLGL2 expression. Resistance to endocrine treatment in breast cancer cells was associated with SLC7A5- and LLGL2-dependent adaption to nutrient stress. SLC7A5 was necessary and sufficient to confer resistance to tamoxifen treatment, identifying SLC7A5 as a potential therapeutic target for overcoming resistance to endocrine treatments in breast cancer. Thus, LLGL2 functions as a promoter of tumour growth and not as a tumour suppressor in ER breast cancer. Beyond breast cancer, adaptation to nutrient stress is critically important, and our findings identify an unexpected role for LLGL2 in this process.
BRCA1 or BRCA2 inactivation drives breast and ovarian cancer but also creates vulnerability to poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors. To search for additional targets whose inhibition is synthetically lethal in BRCA2-deficient backgrounds, we screened two pairs of BRCA2 isogenic cell lines with DNA-repair-focused small hairpin RNA (shRNA) and CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-based libraries. We found that BRCA2-deficient cells are selectively dependent on multiple pathways including base excision repair, ATR signaling, and splicing. We identified APEX2 and FEN1 as synthetic lethal genes with both BRCA1 and BRCA2 loss of function. BRCA2-deficient cells require the apurinic endonuclease activity and the PCNA-binding domain of Ape2 (APEX2), but not Ape1 (APEX1). Furthermore, BRCA2-deficient cells require the 5' flap endonuclease but not the 5'-3' exonuclease activity of Fen1, and chemically inhibiting Fen1 selectively targets BRCA-deficient cells. Finally, we developed a microhomology-mediated end-joining (MMEJ) reporter and showed that Fen1 participates in MMEJ, underscoring the importance of MMEJ as a collateral repair pathway in the context of homologous recombination (HR) deficiency.
The accurate inheritance of genetic material is a basic necessity in all domains of life and an unexpectedly large number of RNA processing factors are required for mitotic progression and genome stability. NRDE2 (nuclear RNAi defective-2) is an evolutionarily conserved protein originally discovered for its role in nuclear RNA interference (RNAi) and heritable gene silencing in (). The function of the human gene remains poorly understood. Here we show that human NRDE2 is an essential protein required for suppressing intron retention in a subset of pre-mRNAs containing short, GC-rich introns with relatively weak 5' and 3' splice sites. NRDE2 preferentially interacts with components of the U5 small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (snRNP), the exon junction complex, and the RNA exosome. Interestingly, depleted cells exhibit greatly increased levels of genomic instability and DNA damage, as well as defects in centrosome maturation and mitotic progression. We identify the essential centriolar satellite protein, CEP131, as a direct NRDE2-regulated target. NRDE2 specifically binds to and promotes the efficient splicing of pre-mRNA, and depleting dramatically reduces CEP131 protein expression, contributing to impaired recruitment of critical centrosomal proteins (e.g., γ-tubulin and Aurora Kinase A) to the spindle poles during mitosis. Our work establishes a conserved role for human in RNA splicing, characterizes the severe genomic instability phenotypes observed upon loss of , and highlights the direct regulation of splicing as one of multiple mechanisms through which such phenotypes might be explained.
: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) remains the most challenging breast cancer subtype to treat. To date, therapies directed to specific molecular targets have rarely achieved clinically meaningful improvements in outcomes of patients with TNBC, and chemotherapy remains the standard of care. Here, we seek to review the most recent efforts to classify TNBC based on the comprehensive profiling of tumors for cellular composition and molecular features. Technologic advances allow for tumor characterization at ever-increasing depth, generating data that, if integrated with clinical-pathologic features, may help improve risk stratification of patients, guide treatment decisions and surveillance, and help identify new targets for drug development. SIGNIFICANCE: TNBC is characterized by higher rates of relapse, greater metastatic potential, and shorter overall survival compared with other major breast cancer subtypes. The identification of biomarkers that can help guide treatment decisions in TNBC remains a clinically unmet need. Understanding the mechanisms that drive resistance is key to the design of novel therapeutic strategies to help prevent the development of metastatic disease and, ultimately, to improve survival in this patient population.
BACKGROUND: Based on preclinical work, we found that combination of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors with drugs that inhibit the homologous recombination repair (HRR) pathway (such as PI3K inhibitors) might sensitise HRR-proficient epithelial ovarian cancers to PARP inhibitors. We aimed to assess the safety and identify the recommended phase 2 dose of the PARP inhibitor olaparib in combination with the PI3K inhibitor alpelisib in patients with epithelial ovarian cancer and in patients with breast cancer. METHODS: In this multicentre, open-label, phase 1b trial following a 3 + 3 dose-escalation design, we recruited patients aged 18 years or older with the following key eligibility criteria: confirmed diagnosis of either recurrent ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer of high-grade serous histology; confirmed diagnosis of either recurrent ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer of any histology with known germline BRCA mutations; confirmed diagnosis of recurrent breast cancer of triple-negative histology; or confirmed diagnosis of recurrent breast cancer of any histology with known germline BRCA mutations. Additional patients with epithelial ovarian cancer were enrolled in a dose-expansion cohort. Four dose levels were planned: the starting dose level of alpelisib 250 mg once a day plus olaparib 100 mg twice a day (dose level 0); alpelisib 250 mg once a day plus olaparib 200 mg twice a day (dose level 1); alpelisib 300 mg once a day plus olaparib 200 mg twice a day (dose level 2); and alpelisib 200 mg once a day plus olaparib 200 mg twice a day (dose level 3). Both drugs were administered orally, in tablet formulation. The primary objective was to identify the maximum tolerated dose and the recommended phase 2 dose of the combination of alpelisib and olaparib for patients with epithelial ovarian cancer and patients with breast cancer. Analyses included all patients who received at least one dose of the study drugs. The trial is active, but closed to enrolment; follow-up for patients who completed treatment is ongoing. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01623349. FINDINGS: Between Oct 3, 2014, and Dec 21, 2016, we enrolled 34 patients (28 in the dose-escalation cohort and six in the dose-expansion cohort); two in the dose-escalation cohort were ineligible at the day of scheduled study initiation. Maximum tolerated dose and recommended phase 2 dose were identified as alpelisib 200 mg once a day plus olaparib 200 mg twice a day (dose level 3). Considering all dose levels, the most common treatment-related grade 3-4 adverse events were hyperglycaemia (five [16%] of 32 patients), nausea (three [9%]), and increased alanine aminotransferase concentrations (three [9%]). No treatment-related deaths occurred. Dose-limiting toxic effects included hyperglycaemia and fever with decreased neutrophil count. Of the 28 patients with epithelial ovarian cancer, ten (36%) achieved a partial response and 14 (50%) had stable disease according to Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors 1.1. INTERPRETATION: Combining alpelisib and olaparib is feasible with no unexpected toxic effects. The observed activity provides preliminary clinical evidence of synergism between olaparib and alpelisib, particularly in epithelial ovarian cancer, and warrants further investigation. FUNDING: Ovarian Cancer Dream Team (Stand Up To Cancer, Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance, National Ovarian Cancer Coalition), Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Novartis.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a heterogeneous disease that resides within a complex microenvironment, complicating efforts to understand how different cell types contribute to disease progression. We combined single-cell RNA sequencing and genotyping to profile 38,410 cells from 40 bone marrow aspirates, including 16 AML patients and five healthy donors. We then applied a machine learning classifier to distinguish a spectrum of malignant cell types whose abundances varied between patients and between subclones in the same tumor. Cell type compositions correlated with prototypic genetic lesions, including an association of FLT3-ITD with abundant progenitor-like cells. Primitive AML cells exhibited dysregulated transcriptional programs with co-expression of stemness and myeloid priming genes and had prognostic significance. Differentiated monocyte-like AML cells expressed diverse immunomodulatory genes and suppressed T cell activity in vitro. In conclusion, we provide single-cell technologies and an atlas of AML cell states, regulators, and markers with implications for precision medicine and immune therapies. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
T cell-mediated immune responses are compromised in aged individuals, leading to increased morbidity and reduced response to vaccination. While cellular metabolism tightly regulates T cell activation and function, metabolic reprogramming in aged T cells has not been thoroughly studied. Here, we report a systematic analysis of metabolism during young versus aged naïve T cell activation. We observed a decrease in the number and activation of naïve T cells isolated from aged mice. While young T cells demonstrated robust mitochondrial biogenesis and respiration upon activation, aged T cells generated smaller mitochondria with lower respiratory capacity. Using quantitative proteomics, we defined the aged T cell proteome and discovered a specific deficit in the induction of enzymes of one-carbon metabolism. The activation of aged naïve T cells was enhanced by addition of products of one-carbon metabolism (formate and glycine). These studies define mechanisms of skewed metabolic remodeling in aged T cells and provide evidence that modulation of metabolism has the potential to promote immune function in aged individuals.