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Metastasis is the most lethal aspect of cancer, yet current therapeutic strategies do not target its key rate-limiting steps. We have previously shown that the entry of cancer cells into the blood stream, or intravasation, is highly dependent upon in vivo cancer cell motility, making it an attractive therapeutic target. To systemically identify genes required for tumor cell motility in an in vivo tumor microenvironment, we established a novel quantitative in vivo screening platform based on intravital imaging of human cancer metastasis in ex ovo avian embryos. Utilizing this platform to screen a genome-wide shRNA library, we identified a panel of novel genes whose function is required for productive cancer cell motility in vivo, and whose expression is closely associated with metastatic risk in human cancers. The RNAi-mediated inhibition of these gene targets resulted in a nearly total (>99.5%) block of spontaneous cancer metastasis in vivo.
Small-molecule inhibitors of the mTORC2 kinase (torkinibs) have shown efficacy in early clinical trials. However, the torkinibs under study also inhibit the other mTOR-containing complex mTORC1. While mTORC1/mTORC2 combined inhibition may be beneficial in cancer cells, recent reports describe compensatory cell survival upon mTORC1 inhibition due to loss of negative feedback on PI3K, increased autophagy, and increased macropinocytosis. Genetic models suggest that selective mTORC2 inhibition would be effective in breast cancers, but the lack of selective small-molecule inhibitors of mTORC2 have precluded testing of this hypothesis to date. Here we report the engineering of a nanoparticle-based RNAi therapeutic that can effectively silence the mTORC2 obligate cofactor Rictor. Nanoparticle-based Rictor ablation in HER2-amplified breast tumors was achieved following intratumoral and intravenous delivery, decreasing Akt phosphorylation and increasing tumor cell killing. Selective mTORC2 inhibition , combined with the HER2 inhibitor lapatinib, decreased the growth of HER2-amplified breast cancers to a greater extent than either agent alone, suggesting that mTORC2 promotes lapatinib resistance, but is overcome by mTORC2 inhibition. Importantly, selective mTORC2 inhibition was effective in a triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) model, decreasing Akt phosphorylation and tumor growth, consistent with our findings that RICTOR mRNA correlates with worse outcome in patients with basal-like TNBC. Together, our results offer preclinical validation of a novel RNAi delivery platform for therapeutic gene ablation in breast cancer, and they show that mTORC2-selective targeting is feasible and efficacious in this disease setting. This study describes a nanomedicine to effectively inhibit the growth regulatory kinase mTORC2 in a preclinical model of breast cancer, targeting an important pathogenic enzyme in that setting that has been undruggable to date. .
©2018 American Association for Cancer Research.
Most patients with advanced triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) develop drug resistance. MYC and MCL1 are frequently co-amplified in drug-resistant TNBC after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Herein, we demonstrate that MYC and MCL1 cooperate in the maintenance of chemotherapy-resistant cancer stem cells (CSCs) in TNBC. MYC and MCL1 increased mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (mtOXPHOS) and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), processes involved in maintenance of CSCs. A mutant of MCL1 that cannot localize in mitochondria reduced mtOXPHOS, ROS levels, and drug-resistant CSCs without affecting the anti-apoptotic function of MCL1. Increased levels of ROS, a by-product of activated mtOXPHOS, led to the accumulation of HIF-1α. Pharmacological inhibition of HIF-1α attenuated CSC enrichment and tumor initiation in vivo. These data suggest that (1) MYC and MCL1 confer resistance to chemotherapy by expanding CSCs via mtOXPHOS and (2) targeting mitochondrial respiration and HIF-1α may reverse chemotherapy resistance in TNBC.
Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Inc.
Constitutive WNT activity drives the growth of various human tumors, including nearly all colorectal cancers (CRCs). Despite this prominence in cancer, no WNT inhibitor is currently approved for use in the clinic largely due to the small number of druggable signaling components in the WNT pathway and the substantial toxicity to normal gastrointestinal tissue. We have shown that pyrvinium, which activates casein kinase 1α (CK1α), is a potent inhibitor of WNT signaling. However, its poor bioavailability limited the ability to test this first-in-class WNT inhibitor in vivo. We characterized a novel small-molecule CK1α activator called SSTC3, which has better pharmacokinetic properties than pyrvinium, and found that it inhibited the growth of CRC xenografts in mice. SSTC3 also attenuated the growth of a patient-derived metastatic CRC xenograft, for which few therapies exist. SSTC3 exhibited minimal gastrointestinal toxicity compared to other classes of WNT inhibitors. Consistent with this observation, we showed that the abundance of the SSTC3 target, CK1α, was decreased in WNT-driven tumors relative to normal gastrointestinal tissue, and knocking down CK1α increased cellular sensitivity to SSTC3. Thus, we propose that distinct CK1α abundance provides an enhanced therapeutic index for pharmacological CK1α activators to target WNT-driven tumors.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
High-resolution C NMR spectroscopy of hyperpolarized succinate-1-C-2,3-d is reported in vitro and in vivo using a clinical-scale, biplanar (80cm-gap) 48.7mT permanent magnet with a high homogeneity magnetic field. Non-localized C NMR spectra were recorded at 0.52MHz resonance frequency over the torso of a tumor-bearing mouse every 2s. Hyperpolarized C NMR signals with linewidths of ∼3Hz (corresponding to ∼6ppm) were recorded in vitro (2mL in a syringe) and in vivo (over a mouse torso). Comparison of the full width at half maximum (FWHM) for C NMR spectra acquired at 48.7mT and at 4.7T in a small-animal MRI scanner demonstrates a factor of ∼12 improvement for the C resonance linewidth attainable at 48.7mT compared to that at 4.7T in vitro. C hyperpolarized succinate-1-C resonance linewidths in vivo are at least one order of magnitude narrower at 48.7mT compared to those observed in high-field (≥3T) studies employing HP contrast agents. The demonstrated high-resolution C in vivo spectroscopy could be useful for high-sensitivity spectroscopic studies involving monitoring HP agent uptake or detecting metabolism using HP contrast agents with sufficiently large C chemical shift differences.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Basal-like/triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are among the most aggressive forms of breast cancer, and disproportionally affects young premenopausal women and women of African descent. Patients with TNBC suffer a poor prognosis due in part to a lack of molecularly targeted therapies, which represents a critical barrier for effective treatment. Here, we identify EphA2 receptor tyrosine kinase as a clinically relevant target for TNBC. EphA2 expression is enriched in the basal-like molecular subtype in human breast cancers. Loss of EphA2 function in both human and genetically engineered mouse models of TNBC reduced tumor growth in culture and in vivo. Mechanistically, targeting EphA2 impaired cell cycle progression through S-phase via downregulation of c-Myc and stabilization of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27/KIP1. A small molecule kinase inhibitor of EphA2 effectively suppressed tumor cell growth in vivo, including TNBC patient-derived xenografts. Thus, our data identify EphA2 as a novel molecular target for TNBC.
Although siRNA-based nanomedicines hold promise for cancer treatment, conventional siRNA-polymer complex (polyplex) nanocarrier systems have poor pharmacokinetics following intravenous delivery, hindering tumor accumulation. Here, we determined the impact of surface chemistry on the in vivo pharmacokinetics and tumor delivery of siRNA polyplexes. A library of diblock polymers was synthesized, all containing the same pH-responsive, endosomolytic polyplex core-forming block but different corona blocks: 5 kDa (benchmark) and 20 kDa linear polyethylene glycol (PEG), 10 kDa and 20 kDa brush-like poly(oligo ethylene glycol), and 10 kDa and 20 kDa zwitterionic phosphorylcholine-based polymers (PMPC). In vitro, it was found that 20 kDa PEG and 20 kDa PMPC had the highest stability in the presence of salt or heparin and were the most effective at blocking protein adsorption. Following intravenous delivery, 20 kDa PEG and PMPC coronas both extended circulation half-lives 5-fold compared to 5 kDa PEG. However, in mouse orthotopic xenograft tumors, zwitterionic PMPC-based polyplexes showed highest in vivo luciferase silencing (>75% knockdown for 10 days with single IV 1 mg/kg dose) and 3-fold higher average tumor cell uptake than 5 kDa PEG polyplexes (20 kDa PEG polyplexes were only 2-fold higher than 5 kDa PEG). These results show that high molecular weight zwitterionic polyplex coronas significantly enhance siRNA polyplex pharmacokinetics without sacrificing polyplex uptake and bioactivity within tumors when compared to traditional PEG architectures.
Remyelination of CNS axons by Schwann cells (SCs) is not efficient, in part due to the poor migration of SCs into the adult CNS. Although it is known that migrating SCs avoid white matter tracts, the molecular mechanisms underlying this exclusion have never been elucidated. We now demonstrate that myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG), a well known inhibitor of neurite outgrowth, inhibits rat SC migration and induces their death via γ-secretase-dependent regulated intramembrane proteolysis of the p75 neurotrophin receptor (also known as p75 cleavage). Blocking p75 cleavage using inhibitor X (Inh X), a compound that inhibits γ-secretase activity before exposing to MAG or CNS myelin improves SC migration and survival Furthermore, mouse SCs pretreated with Inh X migrate extensively in the demyelinated mouse spinal cord and remyelinate axons. These results suggest a novel role for MAG/myelin in poor SC-myelin interaction and identify p75 cleavage as a mechanism that can be therapeutically targeted to enhance SC-mediated axon remyelination in the adult CNS. Numerous studies have used Schwann cells, the myelin-making cells of the peripheral nervous system to remyelinate adult CNS axons. Indeed, these transplanted cells successfully remyelinate axons, but unfortunately they do not migrate far and so remyelinate only a few axons in the vicinity of the transplant site. It is believed that if Schwann cells could be induced to migrate further and survive better, they may represent a valid therapy for remyelination. We show that myelin-associated glycoprotein or CNS myelin, in general, inhibit rodent Schwann cell migration and induce their death via cleavage of the neurotrophin receptor p75. Blockade of p75 cleavage using a specific inhibitor significantly improves migration and survival of the transplanted Schwann cells .
Copyright © 2017 the authors 0270-6474/17/375885-15$15.00/0.
A rationally-designed library of ternary siRNA polyplexes was developed and screened for gene silencing efficacy in vitro and in vivo with the goal of overcoming both cell-level and systemic delivery barriers. [2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate] (DMAEMA) was homopolymerized or copolymerized (50mol% each) with butyl methacrylate (BMA) from a reversible addition - fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) chain transfer agent, with and without pre-conjugation to polyethylene glycol (PEG). Both single block polymers were tested as core-forming units, and both PEGylated, diblock polymers were screened as corona-forming units. Ternary siRNA polyplexes were assembled with varied amounts and ratios of core-forming polymers to PEGylated corona-forming polymers. The impact of polymer composition/ratio, hydrophobe (BMA) placement, and surface PEGylation density was correlated to important outcomes such as polyplex size, stability, pH-dependent membrane disruptive activity, biocompatibility, and gene silencing efficiency. The lead formulation, DB4-PDB12, was optimally PEGylated not only to ensure colloidal stability (no change in size by DLS between 0 and 24h) and neutral surface charge (0.139mV) but also to maintain higher cell uptake (>90% positive cells) than the most densely PEGylated particles. The DB4-PDB12 polyplexes also incorporated BMA in both the polyplex core- and corona-forming polymers, resulting in robust endosomolysis and in vitro siRNA silencing (~85% protein level knockdown) of the model gene luciferase across multiple cell types. Further, the DB4-PDB12 polyplexes exhibited greater stability, increased blood circulation time, reduced renal clearance, increased tumor biodistribution, and greater silencing of luciferase compared to our previously-optimized, binary parent formulation following intravenous (i.v.) delivery. This polyplex library approach enabled concomitant optimization of the composition and ratio of core- and corona-forming polymers (indirectly tuning PEGylation density) and identification of a ternary nanomedicine optimized to overcome important siRNA delivery barriers in vitro and in vivo.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Recent efforts to develop tumor-targeted photodynamic therapy (PDT) photosensitizers (PSs) have greatly advanced the potential of PDT in cancer therapy, although complete eradication of tumor cells by PDT alone remains challenging. As a way to improve PDT efficacy, we report a new combinatory PDT therapy technique that specifically targets multilayers of cells. Simply mixing different PDT PSs, even those that target distinct receptors (this may still lead to similar cell-killing pathways), may not achieve ideal therapeutic outcomes. Instead, significantly improved outcomes likely require synergistic therapies that target various cellular pathways. In this study, we target two proteins upregulated in cancers: the cannabinoid CB2 receptor (CBR, a G-protein coupled receptor) and translocator protein (TSPO, a mitochondria membrane receptor). We found that the CBR-targeted PS, IR700DX-mbc94, triggered necrotic cell death upon light irradiation, whereas PDT with the TSPO-targeted IR700DX-6T agent led to apoptotic cell death. Both PSs significantly inhibited tumor growth in vivo in a target-specific manner. As expected, the combined CBR- and TSPO-PDT resulted in enhanced cell killing efficacy and tumor inhibition with lower drug dose. The median survival time of animals with multilayer PDT treatment was extended by as much as 2.8-fold over single PDT treatment. Overall, multilayer PDT provides new opportunities to treat cancers with high efficacy and low side effects.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE - Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is increasingly used as a minimally invasive, controllable and effective therapeutic procedure for cancer treatment. However, complete eradication of tumor cells by PDT alone remains challenging. In this study, we investigate the potential of multilayer PDT in cancer treatment with high efficacy and low side effects. Through PDT targeting two cancer biomarkers located at distinct subcellular localizations, remarkable synergistic effects in cancer cell killing and tumor inhibition were observed in both in vitro and in vivo experiments. This strategy may be widely applied to treat various cancer types by using strategically designed PDT photosensitizers that target corresponding upregulated receptors at tactical subcellular localization.
Copyright © 2017 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.