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Overexpression of myeloid cell leukemia-1 (Mcl-1) in cancers correlates with high tumor grade and poor survival. Additionally, Mcl-1 drives intrinsic and acquired resistance to many cancer therapeutics, including B cell lymphoma 2 family inhibitors, proteasome inhibitors, and antitubulins. Therefore, Mcl-1 inhibition could serve as a strategy to target cancers that require Mcl-1 to evade apoptosis. Herein, we describe the use of structure-based design to discover a novel compound (42) that robustly and specifically inhibits Mcl-1 in cell culture and animal xenograft models. Compound 42 binds to Mcl-1 with picomolar affinity and inhibited growth of Mcl-1-dependent tumor cell lines in the nanomolar range. Compound 42 also inhibited the growth of hematological and triple negative breast cancer xenografts at well-tolerated doses. These findings highlight the use of structure-based design to identify small molecule Mcl-1 inhibitors and support the use of 42 as a potential treatment strategy to block Mcl-1 activity and induce apoptosis in Mcl-1-dependent cancers.
The mechanisms that restrict regeneration and maintain cell identity following injury are poorly characterized in higher vertebrates. Following β-cell loss, 1-2% of the glucagon-producing α-cells spontaneously engage in insulin production in mice. Here we explore the mechanisms inhibiting α-cell plasticity. We show that adaptive α-cell identity changes are constrained by intra-islet insulin- and Smoothened-mediated signalling, among others. The combination of β-cell loss or insulin-signalling inhibition, with Smoothened inactivation in α- or δ-cells, stimulates insulin production in more α-cells. These findings suggest that the removal of constitutive 'brake signals' is crucial to neutralize the refractoriness to adaptive cell-fate changes. It appears that the maintenance of cell identity is an active process mediated by repressive signals, which are released by neighbouring cells and curb an intrinsic trend of differentiated cells to change.
Abnormalities in nuclear shape are a well-known feature of cancer, but their contribution to malignant progression remains poorly understood. Here, we show that depletion of the cytoskeletal regulator, Diaphanous-related formin 3 (DIAPH3), or the nuclear membrane-associated proteins, lamin A/C, in prostate and breast cancer cells, induces nuclear shape instability, with a corresponding gain in malignant properties, including secretion of extracellular vesicles that contain genomic material. This transformation is characterized by a reduction and/or mislocalization of the inner nuclear membrane protein, emerin. Consistent with this, depletion of emerin evokes nuclear shape instability and promotes metastasis. By visualizing emerin localization, evidence for nuclear shape instability was observed in cultured tumor cells, in experimental models of prostate cancer, in human prostate cancer tissues, and in circulating tumor cells from patients with metastatic disease. Quantitation of emerin mislocalization discriminated cancer from benign tissue and correlated with disease progression in a prostate cancer cohort. Taken together, these results identify emerin as a mediator of nuclear shape stability in cancer and show that destabilization of emerin can promote metastasis. This study identifies a novel mechanism integrating the control of nuclear structure with the metastatic phenotype, and our inclusion of two types of human specimens (cancer tissues and circulating tumor cells) demonstrates direct relevance to human cancer. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/canres/78/21/6086/F1.large.jpg .
©2018 American Association for Cancer Research.
BACKGROUND - Functional and molecular changes often precede gross anatomical changes, so early assessment of a tumor's functional and molecular response to therapy can help reduce a patient's exposure to the side effects of ineffective chemotherapeutics or other treatment strategies.
OBJECTIVE - Our intent was to test the hypothesis that an ultrasound microvascular imaging approach might provide indications of response to therapy prior to assessment of tumor size.
METHODS - Mice bearing clear-cell renal cell carcinoma xenograft tumors were treated with antiangiogenic and Notch inhibition therapies. An ultrasound measurement of microvascular density was used to serially track the tumor response to therapy.
RESULTS - Data indicated that ultrasound-derived microvascular density can indicate response to therapy a week prior to changes in tumor volume and is strongly correlated with physiological characteristics of the tumors as measured by histology ([Formula: see text]). Furthermore, data demonstrated that ultrasound measurements of vascular density can determine response to therapy and classify between-treatment groups with high sensitivity and specificity.
CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE - Results suggests that future applications utilizing ultrasound imaging to monitor tumor response to therapy may be able to provide earlier insight into tumor behavior from metrics of microvascular density rather than anatomical tumor size measurements.
The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) endows carcinoma cells with traits needed to complete many of the steps leading to metastasis formation, but its contributions specifically to the late step of extravasation remain understudied. We find that breast cancer cells that have undergone an EMT extravasate more efficiently from blood vessels both in vitro and in vivo. Analysis of gene expression changes associated with the EMT program led to the identification of an EMT-induced cell-surface protein, podocalyxin (PODXL), as a key mediator of extravasation in mesenchymal breast and pancreatic carcinoma cells. PODXL promotes extravasation through direct interaction of its intracellular domain with the cytoskeletal linker protein ezrin. Ezrin proceeds to establish dorsal cortical polarity, enabling the transition of cancer cells from a non-polarized, rounded cell morphology to an invasive extravasation-competent shape. Hence, the EMT program can directly enhance the efficiency of extravasation and subsequent metastasis formation through a PODXL-ezrin signaling axis.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) E3 ubiquitin ligase protein is a hallmark of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). Identifying how pathways affected by VHL loss contribute to ccRCC remains challenging. We used a genome-wide in vitro expression strategy to identify proteins that bind VHL when hydroxylated. Zinc fingers and homeoboxes 2 (ZHX2) was found as a VHL target, and its hydroxylation allowed VHL to regulate its protein stability. Tumor cells from ccRCC patients with loss-of-function mutations usually had increased abundance and nuclear localization of ZHX2. Functionally, depletion of ZHX2 inhibited VHL-deficient ccRCC cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, integrated chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing and microarray analysis showed that ZHX2 promoted nuclear factor κB activation. These studies reveal ZHX2 as a potential therapeutic target for ccRCC.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
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.
OBJECTIVE - Homologous recombination (HR)-proficient ovarian tumors have poorer clinical outcomes and show resistance to poly ADP ribose polymerase inhibitors (PARPi). A subset of HR-proficient ovarian tumors show amplification in bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) genes such as BRD4. We aimed to test the hypothesis that BRD4 inhibition sensitizes ovarian cancer cells to PARPi by reducing HR efficiency and increasing DNA damage.
METHODS - HR-proficient ovarian cancer cell lines (OVCAR-3, OVCAR-4, SKOV-3, UWB1.289+BRCA1) were treated with BRD4-targeting siRNA, novel (INB054329, INCB057643) and established (JQ1) BET inhibitors (BETi) and PARPi (olaparib, rucaparib). Cell growth and viability were assessed by sulforhodamine B assays in vitro, and in SKOV-3 and ovarian cancer patient-derived xenografts in vivo. DNA damage and repair (pH2AX, RAD51 and BRCA1 foci formation, and DRGFP HR reporter activity), apoptosis markers (cleaved PARP, cleaved caspase-3, Bax) and proliferation markers (PCNA, Ki67) were assessed by immunofluorescence and western blot.
RESULTS - In cultured cells, inhibition of BRD4 by siRNA or INCB054329 reduced expression and function of BRCA1 and RAD51, reduced HR reporter activity, and sensitized the cells to olaparib-induced growth inhibition, DNA damage induction and apoptosis. Synergy was observed between all BETi tested and PARPi. INCB054329 and olaparib also co-operatively inhibited xenograft tumor growth, accompanied by reduced BRCA1 expression and proliferation, and increased apoptosis and DNA damage.
CONCLUSIONS - These results provide strong rationale for using BETi to extend therapeutic efficacy of PARPi to HR-proficient ovarian tumors and could benefit a substantial number of women diagnosed with this devastating disease.
Copyright © 2018 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.
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.