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Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are major components of the carcinoma microenvironment that promote tumor progression. However, the mechanisms by which CAFs regulate cancer cell migration are poorly understood. In this study, we show that fibronectin (Fn) assembled by CAFs mediates CAF-cancer cell association and directional migration. Compared with normal fibroblasts, CAFs produce an Fn-rich extracellular matrix with anisotropic fiber orientation, which guides the cancer cells to migrate directionally. CAFs align the Fn matrix by increasing nonmuscle myosin II- and platelet-derived growth factor receptor α-mediated contractility and traction forces, which are transduced to Fn through α5β1 integrin. We further show that prostate cancer cells use αv integrin to migrate efficiently and directionally on CAF-derived matrices. We demonstrate that aligned Fn is a prominent feature of invasion sites in human prostatic and pancreatic carcinoma samples. Collectively, we present a new mechanism by which CAFs organize the Fn matrix and promote directional cancer cell migration.
© 2017 Erdogan et al.
Numerous compounds stimulate rodent β-cell proliferation; however, translating these findings to human β-cells remains a challenge. To examine human β-cell proliferation in response to such compounds, we developed a medium-throughput in vitro method of quantifying adult human β-cell proliferation markers. This method is based on high-content imaging of dispersed islet cells seeded in 384-well plates and automated cell counting that identifies fluorescently labeled β-cells with high specificity using both nuclear and cytoplasmic markers. β-Cells from each donor were assessed for their function and ability to enter the cell cycle by cotransduction with adenoviruses encoding cell cycle regulators cdk6 and cyclin D3. Using this approach, we tested 12 previously identified mitogens, including neurotransmitters, hormones, growth factors, and molecules, involved in adenosine and Tgf-1β signaling. Each compound was tested in a wide concentration range either in the presence of basal (5 mM) or high (11 mM) glucose. Treatment with the control compound harmine, a Dyrk1a inhibitor, led to a significant increase in Ki-67 β-cells, whereas treatment with other compounds had limited to no effect on human β-cell proliferation. This new scalable approach reduces the time and effort required for sensitive and specific evaluation of human β-cell proliferation, thus allowing for increased testing of candidate human β-cell mitogens.
Primary T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) cells require stromal-derived signals to survive. Although many studies have identified cell-intrinsic alterations in signaling pathways that promote T-ALL growth, the identity of endogenous stromal cells and their associated signals in the tumor microenvironment that support T-ALL remains unknown. By examining the thymic tumor microenvironments in multiple murine T-ALL models and primary patient samples, we discovered the emergence of prominent epithelial-free regions, enriched for proliferating tumor cells and dendritic cells (DCs). Systematic evaluation of the functional capacity of tumor-associated stromal cells revealed that myeloid cells, primarily DCs, are necessary and sufficient to support T-ALL survival ex vivo. DCs support T-ALL growth both in primary thymic tumors and at secondary tumor sites. To identify a molecular mechanism by which DCs support T-ALL growth, we first performed gene expression profiling, which revealed up-regulation of platelet-derived growth factor receptor beta (Pdgfrb) and insulin-like growth factor I receptor (Igf1r) on T-ALL cells, with concomitant expression of their ligands by tumor-associated DCs. Both Pdgfrb and Igf1r were activated in ex vivo T-ALL cells, and coculture with tumor-associated, but not normal thymic DCs, sustained IGF1R activation. Furthermore, IGF1R signaling was necessary for DC-mediated T-ALL survival. Collectively, these studies provide the first evidence that endogenous tumor-associated DCs supply signals driving T-ALL growth, and implicate tumor-associated DCs and their mitogenic signals as auspicious therapeutic targets.
Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) strongly promotes renal tubulointerstitial fibrosis, but the cellular target that mediates its profibrotic actions has not been clearly identified. While in vitro data suggest that TGF-β-induced matrix production is mediated by renal fibroblasts, the role of these cells in TGF-β-dependent tubulointerstitial fibrosis following renal injury is not well defined. To address this, we deleted the TGF-β type II receptor in matrix-producing interstitial cells using two different inducible Cre models: COL1A2-Cre with a mesenchymal enhancer element and tenascin-Cre that targets medullary interstitial cells, and either the mouse unilateral ureteral obstruction or the aristolochic acid renal injury model. Renal interstitial cells lacking the TGF-β receptor had significantly impaired collagen I production, but, unexpectedly, overall tissue fibrosis was unchanged in the conditional knockouts after renal injury. Thus, abrogating TGF-β signaling in matrix-producing interstitial cells is not sufficient to reduce fibrosis after renal injury.
Most investigations of cancer-stroma interactions have focused on biochemical signaling effects, with much less attention being paid to biophysical factors. In this study, we investigated the role of mechanical stimuli on human prostatic fibroblasts using a microfluidic platform that was adapted for our experiments and further developed for both repeatable performance among multiple assays and for compatibility with high-resolution confocal microscopy. Results show that mechanical stretching of normal tissue-associated fibroblasts (NAFs) alters the structure of secreted fibronectin. Specifically, unstretched NAFs deposit and assemble fibronectin in a random, mesh-like arrangement, while stretched NAFs produce matrix with a more organized, linearly aligned structure. Moreover, the stretched NAFs exhibited an enhanced capability for directing co-cultured cancer cell migration in a persistent manner. Furthermore, we show that stretching NAFs triggers complex biochemical signaling events through the observation of increased expression of platelet derived growth factor receptor α (PDGFRα). A comparison of these behaviors with those of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) indicates that the observed phenotypes of stretched NAFs are similar to those associated with CAFs, suggesting that mechanical stress is a critical factor in NAF activation and CAF genesis.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that function as master regulators of posttranscriptional gene expression with each miRNA negatively regulating hundreds of genes. Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is a mitogenic lipid present within the ovarian tumor microenvironment and induces LPA receptor activation and intracellular signaling cascades like ERK/MAPK, leading to enhanced cellular proliferation. Here, we show that in SKOV-3 and OVCAR-3 cells, LPA stimulation at concentrations ranging from 1 nmol/L to 20 μmol/L for 30 to 60 minutes increases miR-30c-2*, and this effect is mediated through a combination of receptors because knock down of multiple LPA receptors is required for inhibition. The epidermal growth factor and platelet-derived growth factor also increase miR-30c-2* transcript expression, suggesting a broader responsive role for miR-30c-2*. Thus, we investigated the functional role of miR-30c-2* through ectopic expression of synthetic miRNA precursors of mature miRNA or antagomir transfection and observed that microRNA-30c-2* reduces, and the antagomir enhances, cell proliferation and viability in OVCAR-3, cisplatin-insensitive SKOV-3 and chemoresistant HeyA8-MDR cells. Ectopic expression of miR-30c-2* reduces BCL9 mRNA transcript abundance and BCL9 protein. Consistent with this observation, miR-30c-2* ectopic expression also reduced BCL9 luciferase reporter gene expression. In comparison with IOSE cells, all cancer cells examined showed increased BCL9 expression, which is consistent with its role in tumor progression. Taken together, this suggest that growth factor induced proliferation mediates a neutralizing response by significantly increasing miR-30c-2* which reduces BCL9 expression and cell proliferation in SKOV-3 and OVCAR-3 cells, likely as a mechanism to regulate signal transduction downstream.
Activating B-RAF(V600E) (also known as BRAF) kinase mutations occur in ∼7% of human malignancies and ∼60% of melanomas. Early clinical experience with a novel class I RAF-selective inhibitor, PLX4032, demonstrated an unprecedented 80% anti-tumour response rate among patients with B-RAF(V600E)-positive melanomas, but acquired drug resistance frequently develops after initial responses. Hypotheses for mechanisms of acquired resistance to B-RAF inhibition include secondary mutations in B-RAF(V600E), MAPK reactivation, and activation of alternative survival pathways. Here we show that acquired resistance to PLX4032 develops by mutually exclusive PDGFRβ (also known as PDGFRB) upregulation or N-RAS (also known as NRAS) mutations but not through secondary mutations in B-RAF(V600E). We used PLX4032-resistant sub-lines artificially derived from B-RAF(V600E)-positive melanoma cell lines and validated key findings in PLX4032-resistant tumours and tumour-matched, short-term cultures from clinical trial patients. Induction of PDGFRβ RNA, protein and tyrosine phosphorylation emerged as a dominant feature of acquired PLX4032 resistance in a subset of melanoma sub-lines, patient-derived biopsies and short-term cultures. PDGFRβ-upregulated tumour cells have low activated RAS levels and, when treated with PLX4032, do not reactivate the MAPK pathway significantly. In another subset, high levels of activated N-RAS resulting from mutations lead to significant MAPK pathway reactivation upon PLX4032 treatment. Knockdown of PDGFRβ or N-RAS reduced growth of the respective PLX4032-resistant subsets. Overexpression of PDGFRβ or N-RAS(Q61K) conferred PLX4032 resistance to PLX4032-sensitive parental cell lines. Importantly, MAPK reactivation predicts MEK inhibitor sensitivity. Thus, melanomas escape B-RAF(V600E) targeting not through secondary B-RAF(V600E) mutations but via receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK)-mediated activation of alternative survival pathway(s) or activated RAS-mediated reactivation of the MAPK pathway, suggesting additional therapeutic strategies.
PURPOSE - Phase I-II studies indicate that imatinib is active in glioblastoma multiforme. To better understand the molecular and clinical effects of imatinib in glioblastoma multiforme, we conducted a neoadjuvant study of imatinib with pretreatment and posttreatment biopsies.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN - Patients underwent a computerized tomography-guided biopsy of their brain tumors. If diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, they were immediately treated with 7 days of imatinib 400 mg orally twice daily followed by either definitive surgery or re-biopsy. Pretreatment and posttreatment tissue specimens were tested by immunohistochemistry for Ki67 and microvessel destiny, and posttreatment specimens were analyzed for the presence of intact imatinib in tissue. Furthermore, pretreatment and posttreatment pairs were analyzed by Western blotting for activation of platelet-derived growth factor receptor, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), phosphoinositide 3-kinase/AKT, and mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways. Pharmacokinetic studies were also done.
RESULTS - Twenty patients were enrolled. Median survival was 6.2 months. Intact imatinib was detected in the posttreatment tissue specimens using mass spectrometry. There was no evidence of a drug effect on proliferation, as evidenced by a change in Ki67 expression. Biochemical evidence of response, as shown by decreased activation of AKT and mitogen-activated protein kinase or increased p27 level, was detected in 4 of 11 patients with evaluable, matched pre- and post-imatinib biopsies. Two patients showed high-level EGFR activation and homozygous EGFR mutations, whereas one patient had high-level platelet-derived growth factor receptor-B activation.
CONCLUSIONS - Intact imatinib was detected in glioblastoma multiforme tissue. However, the histologic and immunoblotting evaluations suggest that glioblastoma multiforme proliferation and survival mechanisms are not substantially reduced by imatinib therapy in most patients.
A key tenet of tissue engineering is the principle that the scaffold can perform the dual roles of biomechanical and biochemical support through presentation of the appropriate mediators to surrounding tissue. While growth factors have been incorporated into scaffolds to achieve sustained release, there are a limited number of studies investigating release of biologically active molecules from reactive two-component polymers, which have potential application as injectable delivery systems. In this study, we report the sustained release of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) from a reactive two-component polyurethane. The release of PDGF was bi-phasic, characterized by an initial burst followed by a period of sustained release for up to 21 days. Despite the potential for amine and hydroxyl groups in the protein to react with the isocyanate groups in the reactive polyurethane, the in vitro bioactivity of the released PDGF was largely preserved when added as a lyophilized powder. PUR/PDGF scaffolds implanted in rat skin excisional wounds accelerated wound healing relative to the blank PUR control, resulting in almost complete healing with reepithelization at day 14. The presence of PDGF attracted both fibroblasts and mononuclear cells, significantly accelerating degradation of the polymer and enhancing formation of new granulation tissue as early as day 3. The ability of reactive two-component PUR scaffolds to promote new tissue formation in vivo through local delivery of PDGF may present compelling opportunities for the development of novel injectable therapeutics.