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Adopting a systems approach, we devise a general workflow to define actionable subtypes in human cancers. Applied to small cell lung cancer (SCLC), the workflow identifies four subtypes based on global gene expression patterns and ontologies. Three correspond to known subtypes (SCLC-A, SCLC-N, and SCLC-Y), while the fourth is a previously undescribed ASCL1+ neuroendocrine variant (NEv2, or SCLC-A2). Tumor deconvolution with subtype gene signatures shows that all of the subtypes are detectable in varying proportions in human and mouse tumors. To understand how multiple stable subtypes can arise within a tumor, we infer a network of transcription factors and develop BooleaBayes, a minimally-constrained Boolean rule-fitting approach. In silico perturbations of the network identify master regulators and destabilizers of its attractors. Specific to NEv2, BooleaBayes predicts ELF3 and NR0B1 as master regulators of the subtype, and TCF3 as a master destabilizer. Since the four subtypes exhibit differential drug sensitivity, with NEv2 consistently least sensitive, these findings may lead to actionable therapeutic strategies that consider SCLC intratumoral heterogeneity. Our systems-level approach should generalize to other cancer types.
Activating mutations in Kras are nearly ubiquitous in human pancreatic cancer and initiate precancerous pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanINs) when induced in mouse acinar cells. PanINs normally take months to form but are accelerated by deletion of acinar cell differentiation factors such as Ptf1a, suggesting that loss of cell identity is rate limiting for pancreatic tumor initiation. Using a genetic mouse model that allows for independent control of oncogenic Kras and Ptf1a expression, we demonstrate that sustained Ptf1a is sufficient to prevent Kras-driven tumorigenesis, even in the presence of tumor-promoting inflammation. Furthermore, reintroducing Ptf1a into established PanINs reverts them to quiescent acinar cells in vivo. Similarly, Ptf1a re-expression in human pancreatic cancer cells inhibits their growth and colony-forming ability. Our results suggest that reactivation of an endogenous differentiation program can prevent and reverse oncogene-driven transformation in cells harboring tumor-driving mutations, introducing a potential paradigm for solid tumor prevention and treatment.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Melanomas are characterized by driver and loss-of-function mutations that promote mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling. MEK inhibitors are approved for use in BRAF-mutated melanoma; however, early-phase clinical trials show occasional responses in driver-negative melanoma, suggesting other alterations conferring MAPK/ERK dependency. To identify additional structural alterations in melanoma, we evaluated RNA-Seq from a set of known MAPK/ERK regulators using a novel population-based algorithm in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). We identified recurrent MAP3K8 rearrangements in 1.7% of melanomas in TCGA, occurring in more than 15% of tumors without known driver mutations (, and ). Using an independent tumor set, we validated a similar rearrangement frequency by FISH. MAP3K8-rearranged melanomas exhibit a low mutational burden and absence of typical UV-mutational patterns. We identified two melanoma cell lines that harbor endogenous truncating MAP3K8 rearrangements that demonstrate exquisite dependency. Rearrangement and amplification of the MAP3K8 locus in melanoma cells result in increased levels of a truncated, active MAP3K8 protein; oncogenic dependency on the aberrant MAP3K8; and a concomitant resistance to BRAF inhibition and sensitivity to MEK or ERK1/2 inhibition. Our findings reveal and biochemically characterize targetable oncogenic MAP3K8 truncating rearrangements in driver mutation-negative melanoma, and provide insight to therapeutic approaches for patients with these tumors. These data provide rationale for using MEK or ERK inhibitors in a subset of driver-negative, MAPK/ERK-dependent melanomas harboring truncating MAP3K8 rearrangements. IMPLICATIONS: This is the first mechanistic study and therapeutic implications of truncating MAP3K8 rearrangements in driver-negative melanoma.
©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.
In IBD patients, integration between a hyper-activated immune system and epithelial cell plasticity underlies colon cancer development. However, molecular regulation of such a circuity remains undefined. Claudin-1 (Cld-1), a tight-junction integral protein deregulation alters colonic epithelial cell (CEC) differentiation, and promotes colitis severity while impairing colitis-associated injury/repair. Tumorigenesis is a product of an unregulated wound-healing process and therefore we postulated that upregulated Cld-1 levels render IBD patients susceptible to the colitis-associated cancer (CAC). Villin Cld-1 mice are used to carryout overexpressed studies in mice. The role of deregulated Cld-1 expression in CAC and the underlying mechanism was determined using a well-constructed study scheme and mouse models of DSS colitis/recovery and CAC. Using an inclusive investigative scheme, we here report that upregulated Cld-1 expression promotes susceptibility to the CAC and its malignancy. Increased mucosal inflammation and defective epithelial homeostasis accompanied the increased CAC in Villin-Cld-1-Tg mice. We further found significantly increased levels of protumorigenic M2 macrophages and β-cateninSer552 (β-CatSer552) expression in the CAC in Cld-1Tg vs. WT mice. Mechanistic studies identified the role of PI3K/Akt signaling in Cld-1-dependent activation of the β-CatSer552, which, in turn, was dependent on proinflammatory signals. Our studies identify a critical role of Cld-1 in promoting susceptibility to CAC. Importantly, these effects of deregulated Cld-1 were not associated with altered tight junction integrity, but on its noncanonical role in regulating Notch/PI3K/Wnt/ β-CatSer552 signaling. Overall, outcome from our current studies identifies Cld-1 as potential prognostic biomarker for IBD severity and CAC, and a novel therapeutic target.
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an exceptionally lethal malignancy for which more effective therapies are urgently needed. Several lines of evidence, from SCLC primary human tumours, patient-derived xenografts, cancer cell lines and genetically engineered mouse models, appear to be converging on a new model of SCLC subtypes defined by differential expression of four key transcription regulators: achaete-scute homologue 1 (ASCL1; also known as ASH1), neurogenic differentiation factor 1 (NeuroD1), yes-associated protein 1 (YAP1) and POU class 2 homeobox 3 (POU2F3). In this Perspectives article, we review and synthesize these recent lines of evidence and propose a working nomenclature for SCLC subtypes defined by relative expression of these four factors. Defining the unique therapeutic vulnerabilities of these subtypes of SCLC should help to focus and accelerate therapeutic research, leading to rationally targeted approaches that may ultimately improve clinical outcomes for patients with this disease.
In epithelial-derived cancers, altered regulation of cell-cell adhesion facilitates the disruption of tissue cohesion that is central to the progression to malignant disease. Although numerous intercellular adhesion molecules participate in epithelial adhesion, the immunoglobulin superfamily (IgSF) member activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule (ALCAM), has emerged from multiple independent studies as a central contributor to tumor progression. ALCAM is an archetypal member of the IgSF with conventional organization of five Ig-like domains involved in homo- and heterotypic adhesions. Like many IgSF members, ALCAM is broadly expressed and involved in cellular adhesion across many cellular processes. While the redundancy of intercellular adhesion molecules (CAMs) could diminish the impact of any single CAM, consistent correlation between ALCAM expression and patient outcome for multiple cancers underscores its role in tumor progression. Unlike most oncogenes and tumor suppressors, ALCAM is neither mutated nor amplified or deleted. Experimental disruption of ALCAM-mediated adhesions implies that this IgSF member contributes to tumor progression through dynamic turnover of the protein at the cell surface. Since ALCAM is not frequently altered at the gene level, it appears to promote malignant behavior through regulation of its availability rather than its specific activity. These observations help explain its heterogeneous expression within malignant disease and the drastic changes in protein levels across tumor progression. To reveal how ALCAM contributes to tumor progression, we review regulation of its gene expression, alternative splicing, targeted proteolysis, binding partners, and surface shedding within the context of cancer. Studying ALCAM regulation has led to a novel understanding of the fine-tuning of cell adhesive state through the utilization of otherwise normal regulatory processes, which thereby enable tumor cell invasion and metastasis.
Aberrant activation of the Hedgehog signaling pathway has been linked to the formation of numerous cancer types, including the myogenic soft tissue sarcoma, embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (eRMS). Here, we report , a novel mouse model in which human GLI2A, a constitutive activator of Hedgehog signaling, induced undifferentiated sarcomas that were phenotypically divergent from eRMS. Rather, sarcomas arising in mice featured some characteristics that were reminiscent of Ewing sarcoma. Even though it is widely understood that Ewing sarcoma formation is driven by gene fusions, a genetically defined mouse model is not well-established. While gene fusions were not present in sarcomas, precluding their designation as Ewing sarcoma, we did find that GLI2A induced expression of known gene targets essential to Ewing pathogenesis, most notably, . Moreover, we found that naïve mesenchymal progenitors originate tumors in mice. Altogether, our work provides a novel genetic mouse model, which directly connects oncogenic Hedgehog activity to the etiology of undifferentiated soft tissue sarcomas for the first time. IMPLICATIONS: The finding that activation of Gli2 transcription factor is sufficient to induce Ewing-like sarcomas provides a direct transformative role of the Hedgehog signaling pathway in undifferentiated soft tissue sarcoma.
©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.
Immunotherapy has emerged as a key pillar of cancer treatment. To build upon the recent successes of immunotherapy, intense research efforts are aimed at a molecular understanding of antitumor immune responses, identification of biomarkers of immunotherapy response and resistance, and novel strategies to circumvent resistance. These studies are revealing new insight into the intricacies of tumor cell recognition by the immune system, in large part through MHCs. Although tumor cells widely express MHC-I, a subset of tumors originating from a variety of tissues also express MHC-II, an antigen-presenting complex traditionally associated with professional antigen-presenting cells. MHC-II is critical for antigen presentation to CD4 T lymphocytes, whose role in antitumor immunity is becoming increasingly appreciated. Accumulating evidence demonstrates that tumor-specific MHC-II associates with favorable outcomes in patients with cancer, including those treated with immunotherapies, and with tumor rejection in murine models. Herein, we will review current research regarding tumor-enriched MHC-II expression and regulation in a range of human tumors and murine models, and the possible therapeutic applications of tumor-specific MHC-II.
©2018 American Association for Cancer Research.
is the strongest risk factor for gastric cancer. Initial interactions between and its host originate at the microbial-gastric epithelial cell interface, and contact between and gastric epithelium activates signaling pathways that drive oncogenesis. One microbial constituent that increases gastric cancer risk is the pathogenicity island, which encodes a type IV secretion system that translocates the effector protein, CagA, into host cells. We previously demonstrated that infection of Mongolian gerbils with a carcinogenic strain, 7.13, recapitulates many features of -induced gastric cancer in humans. Therefore, we sought to define gastric proteomic changes induced by that are critical for initiation of the gastric carcinogenic cascade. Gastric cell scrapings were harvested from -infected and uninfected gerbils for quantitative proteomic analyses using isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ). Quantitative proteomic analysis of samples from two biological replicate experiments quantified a total of 2764 proteins, 166 of which were significantly altered in abundance by infection. Pathway mapping identified significantly altered inflammatory and cancer-signaling pathways that included Rab/Ras signaling proteins. Consistent with the iTRAQ results, RABEP2 and G3BP2 were significantly up-regulated , in primary human gastric monolayers, and in gerbil gastric epithelium following infection with strain 7.13 in a -dependent manner. Within human stomachs, RABEP2 and G3BP2 expression in gastric epithelium increased in parallel with the severity of premalignant and malignant lesions and was significantly elevated in intestinal metaplasia and dysplasia, as well as gastric adenocarcinoma, compared with gastritis alone. These results indicate that carcinogenic strains of induce dramatic and specific changes within the gastric proteome and that a subset of altered proteins within pathways with oncogenic potential may facilitate the progression of gastric carcinogenesis in humans.
© 2019 Noto et al.
Hippo signaling has been recognized as a key tumor suppressor pathway. Here, we perform a comprehensive molecular characterization of 19 Hippo core genes in 9,125 tumor samples across 33 cancer types using multidimensional "omic" data from The Cancer Genome Atlas. We identify somatic drivers among Hippo genes and the related microRNA (miRNA) regulators, and using functional genomic approaches, we experimentally characterize YAP and TAZ mutation effects and miR-590 and miR-200a regulation for TAZ. Hippo pathway activity is best characterized by a YAP/TAZ transcriptional target signature of 22 genes, which shows robust prognostic power across cancer types. Our elastic-net integrated modeling further reveals cancer-type-specific pathway regulators and associated cancer drivers. Our results highlight the importance of Hippo signaling in squamous cell cancers, characterized by frequent amplification of YAP/TAZ, high expression heterogeneity, and significant prognostic patterns. This study represents a systems-biology approach to characterizing key cancer signaling pathways in the post-genomic era.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.