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Little is known about the in vivo impacts of targeted therapy on melanoma cell abundance and protein expression. Here, 21 antibodies were added to an established melanoma mass cytometry panel to measure 32 cellular features, distinguish malignant cells, and characterize dabrafenib and trametinib responses in BRAF melanoma. Tumor cells were biopsied before neoadjuvant therapy and compared to cells surgically resected from the same site after 4 weeks of therapy. Approximately 50,000 cells per tumor were characterized by mass cytometry and computational tools t-SNE/viSNE, FlowSOM, and MEM. The resulting single-cell view of melanoma treatment response revealed initially heterogeneous melanoma tumors were consistently cleared of Nestin-expressing melanoma cells. Melanoma cell subsets that persisted to week 4 were heterogeneous but expressed SOX2 or SOX10 proteins and specifically lacked surface expression of MHC I proteins by MEM analysis. Traditional histology imaging of tissue microarrays from the same tumors confirmed mass cytometry results, including persistence of NES- SOX10+ S100β+ melanoma cells. This quantitative single-cell view of melanoma treatment response revealed protein features of malignant cells that are not eliminated by targeted therapy.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Cervical cancer remains one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Here we report the extensive molecular characterization of 228 primary cervical cancers, one of the largest comprehensive genomic studies of cervical cancer to date. We observed notable APOBEC mutagenesis patterns and identified SHKBP1, ERBB3, CASP8, HLA-A and TGFBR2 as novel significantly mutated genes in cervical cancer. We also discovered amplifications in immune targets CD274 (also known as PD-L1) and PDCD1LG2 (also known as PD-L2), and the BCAR4 long non-coding RNA, which has been associated with response to lapatinib. Integration of human papilloma virus (HPV) was observed in all HPV18-related samples and 76% of HPV16-related samples, and was associated with structural aberrations and increased target-gene expression. We identified a unique set of endometrial-like cervical cancers, comprised predominantly of HPV-negative tumours with relatively high frequencies of KRAS, ARID1A and PTEN mutations. Integrative clustering of 178 samples identified keratin-low squamous, keratin-high squamous and adenocarcinoma-rich subgroups. These molecular analyses reveal new potential therapeutic targets for cervical cancers.
Secretion of RNAs in extracellular vesicles is a newly recognized form of intercellular communication. A potential regulatory protein for microRNA (miRNA) secretion is the critical RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) component Argonaute 2 (Ago2). Here, we use isogenic colon cancer cell lines to show that overactivity of KRAS due to mutation inhibits localization of Ago2 to multivesicular endosomes (MVEs) and decreases Ago2 secretion in exosomes. Mechanistically, inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinases (MEKs) I and II, but not Akt, reverses the effect of the activating KRAS mutation and leads to increased Ago2-MVE association and increased exosomal secretion of Ago2. Analysis of cells expressing mutant Ago2 constructs revealed that phosphorylation of Ago2 on serine 387 prevents Ago2-MVE interactions and reduces Ago2 secretion into exosomes. Furthermore, regulation of Ago2 exosomal sorting controls the levels of three candidate miRNAs in exosomes. These data identify a key regulatory signaling event that controls Ago2 secretion in exosomes.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND & AIMS - Gastric cancer develops in the context of parietal cell loss, spasmolytic polypeptide-expressing metaplasia (SPEM), and intestinal metaplasia (IM). We investigated whether expression of the activated form of Ras in gastric chief cells of mice leads to the development of SPEM, as well as progression of metaplasia.
METHODS - We studied Mist1-CreERT2Tg/+;LSL-K-Ras(G12D)Tg/+ (Mist1-Kras) mice, which express the active form of Kras in chief cells on tamoxifen exposure. We studied Mist1-CreERT2Tg/+;LSL-KRas (G12D)Tg/+;R26RmTmG/+ (Mist1-Kras-mTmG) mice to examine whether chief cells that express active Kras give rise to SPEM and IM. Some mice received intraperitoneal injections of the Mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) inhibitor, selumetinib, for 14 consecutive days. Gastric tissues were collected and analyzed by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, and quantitative polymerase chain reaction.
RESULTS - Mist1-Kras mice developed metaplastic glands, which completely replaced normal fundic lineages and progressed to IM within 3-4 months after tamoxifen injection. The metaplastic glands expressed markers of SPEM and IM, and were infiltrated by macrophages. Lineage tracing studies confirmed that the metaplasia developed directly from Kras (G12D)-induced chief cells. Selumetinib induced persistent regression of SPEM and IM, and re-established normal mucosal cells, which were derived from normal gastric progenitor cells.
CONCLUSIONS - Expression of activated Ras in chief cells of Mist1-Kras mice led to the full range of metaplastic lineage transitions, including SPEM and IM. Inhibition of Ras signaling by inhibition of MEK might reverse preneoplastic metaplasia in the stomach.
Copyright © 2016 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
One strategy for combating cancer-drug resistance is to deploy rational polytherapy up front that suppresses the survival and emergence of resistant tumor cells. Here we demonstrate in models of lung adenocarcinoma harboring the oncogenic fusion of ALK and EML4 that the GTPase RAS-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, but not other known ALK effectors, is required for tumor-cell survival. EML4-ALK activated RAS-MAPK signaling by engaging all three major RAS isoforms through the HELP domain of EML4. Reactivation of the MAPK pathway via either a gain in the number of copies of the gene encoding wild-type K-RAS (KRAS(WT)) or decreased expression of the MAPK phosphatase DUSP6 promoted resistance to ALK inhibitors in vitro, and each was associated with resistance to ALK inhibitors in individuals with EML4-ALK-positive lung adenocarcinoma. Upfront inhibition of both ALK and the kinase MEK enhanced both the magnitude and duration of the initial response in preclinical models of EML4-ALK lung adenocarcinoma. Our findings identify RAS-MAPK dependence as a hallmark of EML4-ALK lung adenocarcinoma and provide a rationale for the upfront inhibition of both ALK and MEK to forestall resistance and improve patient outcomes.
PURPOSE - Recurrent "driver" mutations at specific loci in BRAF, NRAS, KIT, GNAQ, and GNA11 define clinically relevant molecular subsets of melanoma, but more than 30% are "pan-negative" for these recurrent mutations. We sought to identify additional potential drivers in "pan-negative" melanoma.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN - Using a targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) assay (FoundationOne™) and targeted RNA sequencing, we identified a novel PAPSS1-BRAF fusion in a "pan-negative" melanoma. We then analyzed NGS data from 51 additional melanomas genotyped by FoundationOne™, as well as melanoma RNA, whole-genome and whole-exome sequencing data in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), to determine the potential frequency of BRAF fusions in melanoma. We characterized the signaling properties of confirmed molecular alterations by ectopic expression of engineered cDNAs in 293H cells.
RESULTS - Activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway in cells by ectopic expression of PAPSS1-BRAF was abrogated by mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) inhibition but not by BRAF inhibition. NGS data analysis of 51 additional melanomas revealed a second BRAF fusion (TRIM24-BRAF) in a "pan-negative" sample; MAPK signaling induced by TRIM24-BRAF was also MEK inhibitor sensitive. Through mining TCGA skin cutaneous melanoma dataset, we further identified two potential BRAF fusions in another 49 "pan-negative" cases.
CONCLUSIONS - BRAF fusions define a new molecular subset of melanoma, potentially comprising 4% to 8% of "pan-negative" cases. Their presence may explain an unexpected clinical response to MEK inhibitor therapy or assist in selecting patients for MEK-directed therapy.
PURPOSE To assess pharmacodynamic effects and intrinsic and acquired resistance mechanisms of the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib in BRAF(V600)-mutant melanoma, leading to an understanding of the mechanism of action of vemurafenib and ultimately to optimization of metastatic melanoma therapy. METHODS In the phase II clinical study NP22657 (BRIM-2), patients received oral doses of vemurafenib (960 mg twice per day). Serial biopsies were collected to study changes in mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, cell-cycle progression, and factors causing intrinsic or acquired resistance by immunohistochemistry, DNA sequencing, or somatic mutation profiling. Results Vemurafenib inhibited MAPK signaling and cell-cycle progression. An association between the decrease in extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) phosphorylation and objective response was observed in paired biopsies (n = 22; P = .013). Low expression of phosphatase and tensin homolog showed a modest association with lower response. Baseline mutations in MEK1(P124) coexisting with BRAF(V600) were noted in seven of 92 samples; their presence did not preclude objective tumor responses. Acquired resistance to vemurafenib associated with reactivation of MAPK signaling as observed by elevated ERK1/2 phosphorylation levels in progressive lesions and the appearance of secondary NRAS(Q61) mutations or MEK1(Q56P) or MEK1(E203K) mutations. These two activating MEK1 mutations had not previously been observed in vivo in biopsies of progressive melanoma tumors. CONCLUSION Vemurafenib inhibits tumor proliferation and oncogenic BRAF signaling through the MAPK pathway. Acquired resistance results primarily from MAPK reactivation driven by the appearance of secondary mutations in NRAS and MEK1 in subsets of patients. The data suggest that inhibition downstream of BRAF should help to overcome acquired resistance.
Biliary tract cancers, although uncommon, are highly fatal malignancies. Current treatments fail to cure or control the majority of tumors. Given the complexity of the anatomy and the often aggressive nature of the disease, multidisciplinary treatment, including palliation, is often required. However, systemic therapy with cytotoxics and/or targeted agents is routinely the mainstay of treatment for patients with advanced biliary tract cancers, and new targets and agents provide hope for this disease. This article focuses on recent advances in the management of biliary tract cancers, with a special focus on the molecular basis for current therapeutic investigation in this disease.
About 50% of all malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) arise as neurofibromatosis type 1 associated lesions. In those patients malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors are thought to arise through malignant transformation of a preexisting plexiform neurofibroma. The molecular changes associated with this transformation are still poorly understood. We sought to test the hypothesis that dysregulation of expression of kinases contributes to this malignant transformation. We analyzed expression of all 519 kinase genes in the human genome using the nanostring nCounter system. Twelve cases of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor arising in a background of preexisting plexiform neurofibroma were included. Both components were separately sampled. Statistical analysis compared global changes in expression levels as well as changes observed in the pairwise comparison of samples taken from the same surgical specimen. Immunohistochemical studies were performed on tissue array slides to confirm expression of selected proteins. The expression pattern of kinase genes can separate malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors and preexisting plexiform neurofibromas. The majority of kinase genes is downregulated rather than overexpressed with malignant transformation. The patterns of expression changes are complex without simple recurring alteration. Pathway analysis demonstrates that differentially expressed kinases are enriched for kinases involved in the direct regulation of mitosis, and several of these show increased expression in malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. Immunohistochemical studies for the mitotic regulators BUB1B, PBK and NEK2 confirm higher expression levels at the protein level. These results suggest that the malignant transformation of plexiform neurofibroma is associated with distinct changes in the expression of kinase genes. The patterns of these changes are complex and heterogeneous. There is no single unifying alteration. Kinases involved in mitotic regulation are particularly enriched in the pool of differentially expressed kinases. Some of these are overexpressed and are therefore possible targets for kinase inhibitors.
BACKGROUND - Resistance to therapy with BRAF kinase inhibitors is associated with reactivation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. To address this problem, we conducted a phase 1 and 2 trial of combined treatment with dabrafenib, a selective BRAF inhibitor, and trametinib, a selective MAPK kinase (MEK) inhibitor.
METHODS - In this open-label study involving 247 patients with metastatic melanoma and BRAF V600 mutations, we evaluated the pharmacokinetic activity and safety of oral dabrafenib (75 or 150 mg twice daily) and trametinib (1, 1.5, or 2 mg daily) in 85 patients and then randomly assigned 162 patients to receive combination therapy with dabrafenib (150 mg) plus trametinib (1 or 2 mg) or dabrafenib monotherapy. The primary end points were the incidence of cutaneous squamous-cell carcinoma, survival free of melanoma progression, and response. Secondary end points were overall survival and pharmacokinetic activity.
RESULTS - Dose-limiting toxic effects were infrequently observed in patients receiving combination therapy with 150 mg of dabrafenib and 2 mg of trametinib (combination 150/2). Cutaneous squamous-cell carcinoma was seen in 7% of patients receiving combination 150/2 and in 19% receiving monotherapy (P=0.09), whereas pyrexia was more common in the combination 150/2 group than in the monotherapy group (71% vs. 26%). Median progression-free survival in the combination 150/2 group was 9.4 months, as compared with 5.8 months in the monotherapy group (hazard ratio for progression or death, 0.39; 95% confidence interval, 0.25 to 0.62; P<0.001). The rate of complete or partial response with combination 150/2 therapy was 76%, as compared with 54% with monotherapy (P=0.03).
CONCLUSIONS - Dabrafenib and trametinib were safely combined at full monotherapy doses. The rate of pyrexia was increased with combination therapy, whereas the rate of proliferative skin lesions was nonsignificantly reduced. Progression-free survival was significantly improved. (Funded by GlaxoSmithKline; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01072175.).