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Solute carrier family 7 member 2 (SLC7A2, also known as CAT2) is an inducible transporter of the semi-essential amino acid L-arginine (L-Arg), which has been implicated in wound repair. We have reported that both SLC7A2 expression and L-Arg availability are decreased in colonic tissues from inflammatory bowel disease patients and that mice lacking Slc7a2 exhibit a more severe disease course when exposed to dextran sulfate sodium (DSS) compared to wild-type (WT) mice. Here, we present evidence that SLC7A2 plays a role in modulating colon tumorigenesis in the azoxymethane (AOM)-DSS model of colitis-associated carcinogenesis (CAC). SLC7A2 was localized predominantly to colonic epithelial cells in WT mice. Utilizing the AOM-DSS model, Slc7a2 mice had significantly increased tumor number, burden, and risk of high-grade dysplasia vs. WT mice. Tumors from Slc7a2 mice exhibited significantly increased levels of the proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines IL-1β, CXCL1, CXCL5, IL-3, CXCL2, CCL3, and CCL4, but decreased levels of IL-4, CXCL9, and CXCL10 compared to tumors from WT mice. This was accompanied by a shift toward pro-tumorigenic M2 macrophage activation in Slc7a2-deficient mice, as marked by increased colonic CD11bF4/80ARG1 cells with no alteration in CD11bF4/80NOS2 cells by flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy. The shift toward M2 macrophage activation was confirmed in bone marrow-derived macrophages from Slc7a2 mice. In bone marrow chimeras between Slc7a2 and WT mice, the recipient genotype drove the CAC phenotype, suggesting the importance of epithelial SLC7A2 in abrogating neoplastic risk. These data reveal that SLC7A2 has a significant role in the protection from CAC in the setting of chronic colitis, and suggest that the decreased SLC7A2 in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may contribute to CAC risk. Strategies to enhance L-Arg availability by supplementing L-Arg and/or increasing L-Arg uptake could represent a therapeutic approach in IBD to reduce the substantial long-term risk of colorectal carcinoma.
The hyperactivated Wnt/β-catenin signaling acts as a switch to induce epithelial to mesenchymal transition and promote colorectal cancer. However, due to its essential role in gut homeostasis, therapeutic targeting of this pathway has proven challenging. Additionally, IL-6/Stat-3 signaling, activated by microbial translocation through the dysregulated mucosal barrier in colon adenomas, facilitates the adenoma to adenocarcinomas transition. However, inter-dependence between these signaling pathways and key mucosal barrier components in regulating colon tumorigenesis and cancer progression remains unclear. In current study, we have discovered, using a comprehensive investigative regimen, a novel and tissue-specific role of claudin-3, a tight junction integral protein, in inhibiting colon cancer progression by serving as the common rheostat of Stat-3 and Wnt-signaling activation. Loss of claudin-3 also predicted poor patient survival. These findings however contrasted an upregulated claudin-3 expression in other cancer types and implicated role of the epigenetic regulation. Claudin-3-/- mice revealed dedifferentiated and leaky colonic epithelium, and developed invasive adenocarcinoma when subjected to colon cancer. Wnt-signaling hyperactivation, albeit in GSK-3β independent manner, differentiated colon cancer in claudin-3-/- mice versus WT-mice. Claudin-3 loss also upregulated the gp130/IL6/Stat3 signaling in colonic epithelium potentially assisted by infiltrating immune components. Genetic and pharmacological studies confirmed that claudin-3 loss induces Wnt/β-catenin activation, which is further exacerbated by Stat-3-activation and help promote colon cancer. Overall, these novel findings identify claudin-3 as a therapeutic target for inhibiting overactivation of Wnt-signaling to prevent CRC malignancy.
A cell's phenotype is the observable actualization of complex interactions between its genome, epigenome, and local environment. While traditional views in cancer have held that cellular and tumor phenotypes are largely functions of genomic instability, increasing attention has recently been given to epigenetic and microenvironmental influences. Such non-genetic factors allow cancer cells to experience intrinsic diversity and plasticity, and at the tumor level can result in phenotypic heterogeneity and treatment evasion. In 2006, Takahashi and Yamanaka exploited the epigenome's plasticity by "reprogramming" differentiated cells into a pluripotent state by inducing expression of a cocktail of four transcription factors. Recent advances in cancer biology have shown not only that cellular reprogramming is possible for malignant cells, but it may provide a foundation for future therapies. Nevertheless, cell reprogramming experiments are frequently plagued by low efficiency, activation of aberrant transcriptional programs, instability, and often rely on expertise gathered from systems which may not translate directly to cancer. Here, we review a theoretical framework tracing back to Waddington's epigenetic landscape which may be used to derive quantitative and qualitative understanding of cellular reprogramming. Implications for tumor heterogeneity, evolution and adaptation are discussed in the context of designing new treatments to re-sensitize recalcitrant tumors. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Evolutionary principles - heterogeneity in cancer?, edited by Dr. Robert A. Gatenby.
Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier B.V.
Wilms tumor (WT) is the most common renal neoplasm of childhood and affects 1 in 10 000 children aged less than 15 years. These embryonal tumors are thought to arise from primitive nephrogenic rests that derive from the metanephric mesenchyme during kidney development and are characterized partly by increased Wnt/β-catenin signaling. We previously showed that coordinate activation of Ras and β-catenin accelerates the growth and metastatic progression of a murine WT model. Here, we show that activating KRAS mutations can be found in human WT. In addition, high levels of phosphorylated AKT are present in the majority of WT. We further show in a mouse model and in renal epithelial cells that Ras cooperates with β-catenin to drive metastatic disease progression and promotes in vitro tumor cell growth, migration, and colony formation in soft agar. Cellular transformation and metastatic disease progression of WT cells are in part dependent on PI3K/AKT activation and are inhibited via pharmacological inhibition of this pathway. Our studies suggest both KRAS mutations and AKT activation are present in WT and may represent novel therapeutic targets for this disease.
© 2017 The Authors. Published by FEBS Press and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Dysregulation of iron metabolism in cancer is well documented and it has been suggested that there is interdependence between excess iron and increased cancer incidence and progression. In an effort to better understand the linkages between iron metabolism and breast cancer, a predictive mathematical model of an expanded iron homeostasis pathway was constructed that includes species involved in iron utilization, oxidative stress response and oncogenic pathways. The model leads to three predictions. The first is that overexpression of iron regulatory protein 2 (IRP2) recapitulates many aspects of the alterations in free iron and iron-related proteins in cancer cells without affecting the oxidative stress response or the oncogenic pathways included in the model. This prediction was validated by experimentation. The second prediction is that iron-related proteins are dramatically affected by mitochondrial ferritin overexpression. This prediction was validated by results in the pertinent literature not used for model construction. The third prediction is that oncogenic Ras pathways contribute to altered iron homeostasis in cancer cells. This prediction was validated by a combination of simulation experiments of Ras overexpression and catalase knockout in conjunction with the literature. The model successfully captures key aspects of iron metabolism in breast cancer cells and provides a framework upon which more detailed models can be built.
Aberrant activation of embryonic signaling pathways is frequent in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), making developmental regulators therapeutically attractive. Here we demonstrate diverse functions for pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 (PDX1), a transcription factor indispensable for pancreas development, in the progression from normal exocrine cells to metastatic PDA. We identify a critical role for PDX1 in maintaining acinar cell identity, thus resisting the formation of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN)-derived PDA. Upon neoplastic transformation, the role of PDX1 changes from tumor-suppressive to oncogenic. Interestingly, subsets of malignant cells lose PDX1 expression while undergoing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and PDX1 loss is associated with poor outcome. This stage-specific functionality arises from profound shifts in PDX1 chromatin occupancy from acinar cells to PDA. In summary, we report distinct roles of PDX1 at different stages of PDA, suggesting that therapeutic approaches against this potential target need to account for its changing functions at different stages of carcinogenesis. These findings provide insight into the complexity of PDA pathogenesis and advocate a rigorous investigation of therapeutically tractable targets at distinct phases of PDA development and progression.
© 2016 Roy et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.
Genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) of cancer are increasingly being used to assess putative driver mutations identified by large-scale sequencing of human cancer genomes. To accurately interpret experiments that introduce additional mutations, an understanding of the somatic genetic profile and evolution of GEMM tumors is necessary. Here, we performed whole-exome sequencing of tumors from three GEMMs of lung adenocarcinoma driven by mutant epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), mutant Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (Kras), or overexpression of MYC proto-oncogene. Tumors from EGFR- and Kras-driven models exhibited, respectively, 0.02 and 0.07 nonsynonymous mutations per megabase, a dramatically lower average mutational frequency than observed in human lung adenocarcinomas. Tumors from models driven by strong cancer drivers (mutant EGFR and Kras) harbored few mutations in known cancer genes, whereas tumors driven by MYC, a weaker initiating oncogene in the murine lung, acquired recurrent clonal oncogenic Kras mutations. In addition, although EGFR- and Kras-driven models both exhibited recurrent whole-chromosome DNA copy number alterations, the specific chromosomes altered by gain or loss were different in each model. These data demonstrate that GEMM tumors exhibit relatively simple somatic genotypes compared with human cancers of a similar type, making these autochthonous model systems useful for additive engineering approaches to assess the potential of novel mutations on tumorigenesis, cancer progression, and drug sensitivity.
UNLABELLED - A known virulence factor of Helicobacter pylori that augments gastric cancer risk is the CagA cytotoxin. A carcinogenic derivative strain, 7.13, that has a greater ability to translocate CagA exhibits much higher hydrogenase activity than its parent noncarcinogenic strain, B128. A Δhyd mutant strain with deletion of hydrogenase genes was ineffective in CagA translocation into human gastric epithelial AGS cells, while no significant attenuation of cell adhesion was observed. The quinone reductase inhibitor 2-n-heptyl-4-hydroxyquinoline-N-oxide (HQNO) was used to specifically inhibit the H2-utilizing respiratory chain of outer membrane-permeabilized bacterial cells; that level of inhibitor also greatly attenuated CagA translocation into AGS cells, indicating the H2-generated transmembrane potential is a contributor to toxin translocation. The Δhyd strain showed a decreased frequency of DNA transformation, suggesting that H. pylori hydrogenase is also involved in energizing the DNA uptake apparatus. In a gerbil model of infection, the ability of the Δhyd strain to induce inflammation was significantly attenuated (at 12 weeks postinoculation), while all of the gerbils infected with the parent strain (7.13) exhibited a high level of inflammation. Gastric cancer developed in 50% of gerbils infected with the wild-type strain 7.13 but in none of the animals infected with the Δhyd strain. By examining the hydrogenase activities from well-defined clinical H. pylori isolates, we observed that strains isolated from cancer patients (n = 6) have a significantly higher hydrogenase (H2/O2) activity than the strains isolated from gastritis patients (n = 6), further supporting an association between H. pylori hydrogenase activity and gastric carcinogenesis in humans.
IMPORTANCE - Hydrogen-utilizing hydrogenases are known to be important for some respiratory pathogens to colonize hosts. Here a gastric cancer connection is made via a pathogen's (H. pylori) use of molecular hydrogen, a host microbiome-produced gas. Delivery of the known carcinogenic factor CagA into host cells is augmented by the H2-utilizing respiratory chain of the bacterium. The role of hydrogenase in carcinogenesis is demonstrated in an animal model, whereby inflammation markers and cancer development were attenuated in the hydrogenase-null strain. Hydrogenase activity comparisons of clinical strains of the pathogen also support a connection between hydrogen metabolism and gastric cancer risk. While molecular hydrogen use is acknowledged to be an alternative high-energy substrate for some pathogens, this work extends the roles of H2 oxidation to include transport of a carcinogenic toxin. The work provides a new avenue for exploratory treatment of some cancers via microflora alterations.
Copyright © 2016 Wang et al.
The role of tumor heterogeneity in regulating disease progression is poorly understood. We hypothesized that interactions between subpopulations of cancer cells can affect the progression of tumors selecting for a more aggressive phenotype. We developed an in vivo assay based on the immortalized nontumorigenic breast cell line MCF10A and its Ras-transformed derivatives AT1 (mildly tumorigenic) and CA1d (highly tumorigenic). CA1d cells outcompeted MCF10A, forming invasive tumors. AT1 grafts were approximately 1% the size of CA1d tumors when initiated using identical cell numbers. In contrast, CA1d/AT1 mixed tumors were larger than tumors composed of AT1 alone (100-fold) or CA1d (3-fold), suggesting cooperation in tumor growth. One of the mechanisms whereby CA1d and AT1 were found to cooperate was by modulation of TGF-α and TGF-β signaling. Both of these molecules were sufficient to induce changes in AT1 proliferative potential in vitro. Reisolation of AT1 tumor-derived (AT1) cells from these mixed tumors revealed that AT1 cells grew in vivo, forming tumors as large as tumorigenic CA1d cells. Cooperation between subpopulations of cancer epithelium is an understudied mechanism of tumor growth and invasion that may have implications on tumor resistance to current therapies.-Franco, O. E., Tyson, D. R., Konvinse, K. C., Udyavar, A. R., Estrada, L., Quaranta, V., Crawford, S. E., Hayward, S. W. Altered TGF-α/β signaling drives cooperation between breast cancer cell populations.
BACKGROUND - Helicobacter pylori is a bacterial carcinogen that is supposed to have the highest known level of risk for the development of gastric cancer, a disease that claims hundreds of thousands of lives per year. Approximately 89% of the global gastric cancer burden and 5.5% of malignancies worldwide are attributed to H. pylori-induced inflammation and injury. However, only a fraction of colonized persons ever develop neoplasia, and disease risk involves well-choreographed interactions between pathogen and host, which are dependent upon strain-specific bacterial factors, host genotypic traits, and/or environmental conditions.
KEY MESSAGES - One H. pylori strain-specific virulence determinant that augments the risk for gastric cancer is the cag pathogenicity island, a secretion system that injects the bacterial oncoprotein CagA into host cells. Host polymorphisms within genes that regulate immunity and oncogenesis also heighten the risk for gastric cancer, in conjunction with H. pylori strain-specific constituents. Further, conditions such as iron deficiency and high salt intake can influence H. pylori phenotypes that lower the threshold for disease.
CONCLUSIONS - Delineation of bacterial, host, and environmental mediators that augment gastric cancer risk has profound ramifications for both physicians and biomedical researchers as such findings will not only focus prevention approaches that target H. pylori-infected human populations at increased risk for stomach cancer, but will also provide mechanistic insights into inflammatory carcinomas that develop beyond the gastric niche.
© 2016 S. Karger AG, Basel.