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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.
The MYC oncogenes encode a family of transcription factors that feature prominently in cancer. MYC proteins are overexpressed or deregulated in a majority of malignancies and drive tumorigenesis by inducing widespread transcriptional reprogramming that promotes cell proliferation, metabolism, and genomic instability. The ability of MYC to regulate transcription depends on its dimerization with MAX, which creates a DNA-binding domain that recognizes specific sequences in the regulatory elements of MYC target genes. Recently, we discovered that recognition of target genes by MYC also depends on its interaction with WDR5, a WD40-repeat protein that exists as part of several chromatin-regulatory complexes. Here, we discuss how interaction of MYC with WDR5 could create an avidity-based chromatin recognition mechanism that allows MYC to select its target genes in response to both genetic and epigenetic determinants. We rationalize how the MYC-WDR5 interaction provides plasticity in target gene selection by MYC and speculate on the biochemical and genomic contexts in which this interaction occurs. Finally, we discuss how properties of the MYC-WDR5 interface make it an attractive point for discovery of small-molecule inhibitors of MYC function in cancer cells.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
BACKGROUND - PIM1 kinase is coexpressed with c-MYC in human prostate cancers (PCs) and dramatically enhances c-MYC-induced tumorigenicity. Here we examine the effects of a novel oral PIM inhibitor, AZD1208, on prostate tumorigenesis and recurrence.
METHODS - A mouse c-MYC/Pim1-transduced tissue recombination PC model, Myc-CaP allografts, and human PC xenografts were treated with AZD1208 (n = 5-11 per group). Androgen-sensitive and castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) models were studied as well as the effects of hypoxia and radiation. RNA sequencing was used to analyze drug-induced gene expression changes. Results were analyzed with χ(2) test. Student's t test and nonparametric Mann-Whitney rank sum U Test. All statistical tests were two-sided.
RESULTS - AZD1208 inhibited tumorigenesis in tissue recombinants, Myc-CaP, and human PC xenograft models. PIM inhibition decreased c-MYC/Pim1 graft growth by 54.3 ± 39% (P < .001), decreased cellular proliferation by 46 ± 14% (P = .016), and increased apoptosis by 326 ± 170% (P = .039). AZD1208 suppressed multiple protumorigenic pathways, including the MYC gene program. However, it also downregulated the p53 pathway. Hypoxia and radiation induced PIM1 in prostate cancer cells, and AZD1208 functioned as a radiation sensitizer. Recurrent tumors postcastration responded transiently to either AZD1208 or radiation treatment, and combination treatment resulted in more sustained inhibition of tumor growth. Cell lines established from recurrent, AZD1208-resistant tumors again revealed downregulation of the p53 pathway. Irradiated AZD1208-treated tumors robustly upregulated p53, providing a possible mechanistic explanation for the effectiveness of combination therapy. Finally, an AZD1208-resistant gene signature was found to be associated with biochemical recurrence in PC patients.
CONCLUSIONS - PIM inhibition is a potential treatment for MYC-driven prostate cancers including CRPC, and its effectiveness may be enhanced by activators of the p53 pathway, such as radiation.
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Inactivation of p53, the master regulator of cellular stress and damage signals, often allows cells that should die or senesce to live. Loss of Dicer, an RNase III-like enzyme critical in microRNA biogenesis, causes embryonic lethality and activation of the p53 pathway. Several nonhematopoietic cell types that contain inactivated p53 have been shown to survive Dicer deletion, suggesting that p53 loss may protect cells from the negative consequences of Dicer deletion. However, here, we report that loss of p53 did not provide a survival advantage to B cells, as they underwent rapid apoptosis upon Dicer deletion. Moreover, a deficiency in p53 neither rescued the Dicer deletion-induced delay in Myc-driven B-cell lymphomagenesis, nor allowed a single B-cell lymphoma to develop with biallelic deletion of Dicer. A p53 deficiency did, however, restore the pre-B/B-cell phenotype and CD19 surface expression of the lymphomas that emerged in conditional Dicer knockout Eμ-myc transgenic mice. Moreover, p53 loss in transformed B cells did not confer protection from apoptosis, as Dicer deletion in established p53-null B-cell lymphomas induced apoptosis, and all of the 1,260 B-cell lymphoma clones analyzed that survived Cre-mediated Dicer deletion retained at least one allele of Dicer. Moreover, Dicer deletion in lymphomas in vivo reduced tumor burden and prolonged survival. Therefore, inactivation of p53 is insufficient to allow untransformed B cells and B-cell lymphomas to survive without Dicer, presenting a potential therapeutic opportunity for the treatment of B-cell lymphomas.
©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.
UNLABELLED - Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) induces a pathologic complete response (pCR) in approximately 30% of patients with triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC). In patients lacking a pCR, NAC selects a subpopulation of chemotherapy-resistant tumor cells. To understand the molecular underpinnings driving treatment-resistant TNBCs, we performed comprehensive molecular analyses on the residual disease of 74 clinically defined TNBCs after NAC, including next-generation sequencing (NGS) on 20 matched pretreatment biopsies. Combined NGS and digital RNA expression analysis identified diverse molecular lesions and pathway activation in drug-resistant tumor cells. Ninety percent of the tumors contained a genetic alteration potentially treatable with a currently available targeted therapy. Thus, profiling residual TNBCs after NAC identifies targetable molecular lesions in the chemotherapy-resistant component of the tumor, which may mirror micrometastases destined to recur clinically. These data can guide biomarker-driven adjuvant studies targeting these micrometastases to improve the outcome of patients with TNBC who do not respond completely to NAC.
SIGNIFICANCE - This study demonstrates the spectrum of genomic alterations present in residual TNBC after NAC. Because TNBCs that do not achieve a CR after NAC are likely to recur as metastatic disease at variable times after surgery, these alterations may guide the selection of targeted therapies immediately after mastectomy before these metastases become evident.
Nerves are a common feature of the microenvironment, but their role in tumor growth and progression remains unclear. We found that the formation of autonomic nerve fibers in the prostate gland regulates prostate cancer development and dissemination in mouse models. The early phases of tumor development were prevented by chemical or surgical sympathectomy and by genetic deletion of stromal β2- and β3-adrenergic receptors. Tumors were also infiltrated by parasympathetic cholinergic fibers that promoted cancer dissemination. Cholinergic-induced tumor invasion and metastasis were inhibited by pharmacological blockade or genetic disruption of the stromal type 1 muscarinic receptor, leading to improved survival of the mice. A retrospective blinded analysis of prostate adenocarcinoma specimens from 43 patients revealed that the densities of sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve fibers in tumor and surrounding normal tissue, respectively, were associated with poor clinical outcomes. These findings may lead to novel therapeutic approaches for prostate cancer.
The oncogenic transcription factor c-Myc causes transformation and tumorigenesis, but it can also induce apoptotic cell death. Although tumor suppressors are necessary for c-Myc to induce apoptosis, the pathways and mechanisms are unclear. To further understand how c-Myc switches from an oncogenic protein to an apoptotic protein, we examined the mechanism of p53-independent c-Myc-induced apoptosis. We show that the tumor suppressor protein ARF mediates this switch by inhibiting ubiquitylation of the c-Myc transcriptional domain (TD). Whereas TD ubiquitylation is critical for c-Myc canonical transcriptional activity and transformation, inhibition of ubiquitylation leads to the induction of the noncanonical c-Myc target gene, Egr1, which is essential for efficient c-Myc-induced p53-independent apoptosis. ARF inhibits the interaction of c-Myc with the E3 ubiquitin ligase Skp2. Overexpression of Skp2, which occurs in many human tumors, inhibits the recruitment of ARF to the Egr1 promoter, leading to inhibition of c-Myc-induced apoptosis. Therapeutic strategies could be developed to activate this intrinsic apoptotic activity of c-Myc to inhibit tumorigenesis.
Medulloblastoma, the most common malignant paediatric brain tumour, is currently treated with nonspecific cytotoxic therapies including surgery, whole-brain radiation, and aggressive chemotherapy. As medulloblastoma exhibits marked intertumoural heterogeneity, with at least four distinct molecular variants, previous attempts to identify targets for therapy have been underpowered because of small samples sizes. Here we report somatic copy number aberrations (SCNAs) in 1,087 unique medulloblastomas. SCNAs are common in medulloblastoma, and are predominantly subgroup-enriched. The most common region of focal copy number gain is a tandem duplication of SNCAIP, a gene associated with Parkinson's disease, which is exquisitely restricted to Group 4α. Recurrent translocations of PVT1, including PVT1-MYC and PVT1-NDRG1, that arise through chromothripsis are restricted to Group 3. Numerous targetable SCNAs, including recurrent events targeting TGF-β signalling in Group 3, and NF-κB signalling in Group 4, suggest future avenues for rational, targeted therapy.
Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) inducing kinase (NIK) is a MAP3K that regulates the activation of NF-κB. NIK is often highly expressed in tumor cells, including melanoma, but the significance of this in melanoma progression has been unclear. Tissue microarray analysis of NIK expression reveals that dysplastic nevi (n=22), primary (n=15) and metastatic melanoma (n=13) lesions showed a statistically significant elevation in NIK expression when compared with benign nevi (n=30). Moreover, when short hairpin RNA techniques were used to knock-down NIK, the resultant NIK-depleted melanoma cell lines exhibited decreased proliferation, increased apoptosis, delayed cell cycle progression and reduced tumor growth in a mouse xenograft model. As expected, when NIK was depleted there was decreased activation of the non-canonical NF-κB pathway, whereas canonical NF-κB activation remained intact. NIK depletion also resulted in reduced expression of genes that contribute to tumor growth, including CXCR4, c-MYC and c-MET, and pro-survival factors such as BCL2 and survivin. These changes in gene expression are not fully explained by the attenuation of the non-canonical NF-κB pathway. Shown here for the first time is the demonstration that NIK modulates β-catenin-mediated transcription to promote expression of survivin. NIK-depleted melanoma cells exhibited downregulation of survivin as well as other β-catenin regulated genes including c-MYC, c-MET and CCND2. These data indicate that NIK mediates both β-catenin and NF-κB regulated transcription to modulate melanoma survival and growth. Thus, NIK may be a promising therapeutic target for melanoma.
BACKGROUND - Hydrodynamic injection is an effective method for DNA delivery in mouse liver and is being translated to larger animals for possible clinical use. Similarly, phiC31 integrase has proven effective in mediating long-term gene therapy in mice when delivered by hydrodynamic injection and is being considered for clinical gene therapy applications. However, chromosomal aberrations have been associated with phiC31 integrase expression in tissue culture, leading to questions about safety.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS - To study whether hydrodynamic delivery alone, or in conjunction with delivery of phiC31 integrase for long-term transgene expression, could facilitate tumor formation, we used a transgenic mouse model in which sustained induction of the human C-MYC oncogene in the liver was followed by hydrodynamic injection. Without injection, mice had a median tumor latency of 154 days. With hydrodynamic injection of saline alone, the median tumor latency was significantly reduced, to 105 days. The median tumor latency was similar, 106 days, when a luciferase donor plasmid and backbone plasmid without integrase were administered. In contrast, when active or inactive phiC31 integrase and donor plasmid were supplied to the mouse liver, the median tumor latency was 153 days, similar to mice receiving no injection.
CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE - Our data suggest that phiC31 integrase does not facilitate tumor formation in this C-MYC transgenic mouse model. However, in groups lacking phiC31 integrase, hydrodynamic injection appeared to contribute to C-MYC-induced hepatocellular carcinoma in adult mice. Although it remains to be seen to what extent these findings may be extrapolated to catheter-mediated hydrodynamic delivery in larger species, they suggest that caution should be used during translation of hydrodynamic injection to clinical applications.