Oncogenic addiction to the Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) is a hallmark of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that harbors the FLT3–internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) mutation. While FLT3 inhibitors like sorafenib show initial therapeutic efficacy, resistance rapidly develops through mechanisms that are incompletely understood. Here, we used RNA-Seq–based analysis of patient leukemic cells and found that upregulation of the Tec family kinase BMX occurs during sorafenib resistance. This upregulation was recapitulated in an in vivo murine FLT3-ITD–positive (FLT3-ITD+) model of sorafenib resistance. Mechanistically, the antiangiogenic effects of sorafenib led to increased bone marrow hypoxia, which contributed to HIF-dependent BMX upregulation. In in vitro experiments, hypoxia-dependent BMX upregulation was observed in both AML and non-AML cell lines. Functional studies in human FLT3-ITD+ cell lines showed that BMX is part of a compensatory signaling mechanism that promotes AML cell survival during FLT3 inhibition. Taken together, our results demonstrate that hypoxia-dependent upregulation of BMX contributes to therapeutic resistance through a compensatory prosurvival signaling mechanism. These results also reveal the role of off-target drug effects on tumor microenvironment and development of acquired drug resistance. We propose that the bone marrow niche can be altered by anticancer therapeutics, resulting in drug resistance through cell-nonautonomous microenvironment-dependent effects.
Jolieke G. van Oosterwijk, Daelynn R. Buelow, Christina D. Drenberg, Aksana Vasilyeva, Lie Li, Lei Shi, Yong-Dong Wang, David Finkelstein, Sheila A. Shurtleff, Laura J. Janke, Stanley Pounds, Jeffrey E. Rubnitz, Hiroto Inaba, Navjotsingh Pabla, Sharyn D. Baker
Breast cancer cells with stem cell properties are key contributors to metastatic disease, and there remains a need to better understand and target these cells in human cancers. Here, we identified rare stem-like cells in patients’ tumors characterized by low levels of the proapoptotic molecule p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA) and showed that these cells play a critical role in tumor progression that is independent of clinical subtype. A signaling axis consisting of the integrin αvβ3, Src kinase, and the transcription factor Slug suppresses PUMA in these cells, promoting tumor stemness. We showed that genetic or pharmacological disruption of αvβ3/Src signaling drives PUMA expression, specifically depleting these stem-like tumor cells; increases their sensitivity to apoptosis; and reduces pulmonary metastasis, with no effect on primary tumor growth. Taken together, these findings point to PUMA as a key vulnerability of stem-like cells and suggest that pharmacological upregulation of PUMA via Src inhibition may represent a strategy to selectively target these cells in a wide spectrum of aggressive breast cancers.
Qi Sun, Jacqueline Lesperance, Hiromi Wettersten, Elaine Luterstein, Yoko S. DeRose, Alana Welm, David A. Cheresh, Jay S. Desgrosellier
As new generations of targeted therapies emerge and tumor genome sequencing discovers increasingly comprehensive mutation repertoires, the functional relationships of mutations to tumor phenotypes remain largely unknown. Here, we measured ex vivo sensitivity of 246 blood cancers to 63 drugs alongside genome, transcriptome, and DNA methylome analysis to understand determinants of drug response. We assembled a primary blood cancer cell encyclopedia data set that revealed disease-specific sensitivities for each cancer. Within chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), responses to 62% of drugs were associated with 2 or more mutations, and linked the B cell receptor (BCR) pathway to trisomy 12, an important driver of CLL. Based on drug responses, the disease could be organized into phenotypic subgroups characterized by exploitable dependencies on BCR, mTOR, or MEK signaling and associated with mutations, gene expression, and DNA methylation. Fourteen percent of CLLs were driven by mTOR signaling in a non–BCR-dependent manner. Multivariate modeling revealed immunoglobulin heavy chain variable gene (IGHV) mutation status and trisomy 12 as the most important modulators of response to kinase inhibitors in CLL. Ex vivo drug responses were associated with outcome. This study overcomes the perception that most mutations do not influence drug response of cancer, and points to an updated approach to understanding tumor biology, with implications for biomarker discovery and cancer care.
Sascha Dietrich, Małgorzata Oleś, Junyan Lu, Leopold Sellner, Simon Anders, Britta Velten, Bian Wu, Jennifer Hüllein, Michelle da Silva Liberio, Tatjana Walther, Lena Wagner, Sophie Rabe, Sonja Ghidelli-Disse, Marcus Bantscheff, Andrzej K. Oleś, Mikołaj Słabicki, Andreas Mock, Christopher C. Oakes, Shihui Wang, Sina Oppermann, Marina Lukas, Vladislav Kim, Martin Sill, Axel Benner, Anna Jauch, Lesley Ann Sutton, Emma Young, Richard Rosenquist, Xiyang Liu, Alexander Jethwa, Kwang Seok Lee, Joe Lewis, Kerstin Putzker, Christoph Lutz, Davide Rossi, Andriy Mokhir, Thomas Oellerich, Katja Zirlik, Marco Herling, Florence Nguyen-Khac, Christoph Plass, Emma Andersson, Satu Mustjoki, Christof von Kalle, Anthony D. Ho, Manfred Hensel, Jan Dürig, Ingo Ringshausen, Marc Zapatka, Wolfgang Huber, Thorsten Zenz
SHARPIN, an adaptor for the linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex (LUBAC), plays important roles in NF-κB signaling and inflammation. Here, we have demonstrated a LUBAC-independent role for SHARPIN in regulating melanoma growth. We observed that SHARPIN interacted with PRMT5, a type II protein arginine methyltransferase, and increased its multiprotein complex and methyltransferase activity. Activated PRMT5 controlled the expression of the transcription factors SOX10 and MITF by SHARPIN-dependent arginine dimethylation and inhibition of the transcriptional corepressor SKI. Activation of PRMT5 by SHARPIN counteracted PRMT5 inhibition by methylthioadenosine, a substrate of methylthioadenosine phosphorylase, which is codeleted with cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (CDKN2A) in approximately 15% of human cancers. Collectively, we identified a LUBAC-independent role for SHARPIN in enhancing PRMT5 activity that contributes to melanomagenesis through the SKI/SOX10 regulatory axis.
Hironari Tamiya, Hyungsoo Kim, Oleksiy Klymenko, Heejung Kim, Yongmei Feng, Tongwu Zhang, Ji Yun Han, Ayako Murao, Scott J. Snipas, Lucia Jilaveanu, Kevin Brown, Harriet Kluger, Hao Zhang, Kazuhiro Iwai, Ze’ev A. Ronai
Pharmacologically difficult targets, such as MYC transcription factors, represent a major challenge in cancer therapy. For the childhood cancer neuroblastoma, amplification of the oncogene MYCN is associated with high-risk disease and poor prognosis. Here, we deployed genome-scale CRISPR-Cas9 screening of MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma and found a preferential dependency on genes encoding the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) components EZH2, EED, and SUZ12. Genetic and pharmacological suppression of EZH2 inhibited neuroblastoma growth in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, compared with neuroblastomas without MYCN amplification, MYCN-amplified neuroblastomas expressed higher levels of EZH2. ChIP analysis showed that MYCN binds at the EZH2 promoter, thereby directly driving expression. Transcriptomic and epigenetic analysis, as well as genetic rescue experiments, revealed that EZH2 represses neuronal differentiation in neuroblastoma in a PRC2-dependent manner. Moreover, MYCN-amplified and high-risk primary tumors from patients with neuroblastoma exhibited strong repression of EZH2-regulated genes. Additionally, overexpression of IGFBP3, a direct EZH2 target, suppressed neuroblastoma growth in vitro and in vivo. We further observed strong synergy between histone deacetylase inhibitors and EZH2 inhibitors. Together, these observations demonstrate that MYCN upregulates EZH2, leading to inactivation of a tumor suppressor program in neuroblastoma, and support testing EZH2 inhibitors in patients with MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma.
Liying Chen, Gabriela Alexe, Neekesh V. Dharia, Linda Ross, Amanda Balboni Iniguez, Amy Saur Conway, Emily Jue Wang, Veronica Veschi, Norris Lam, Jun Qi, W. Clay Gustafson, Nicole Nasholm, Francisca Vazquez, Barbara A. Weir, Glenn S. Cowley, Levi D. Ali, Sasha Pantel, Guozhi Jiang, William F. Harrington, Yenarae Lee, Amy Goodale, Rakela Lubonja, John M. Krill-Burger, Robin M. Meyers, Aviad Tsherniak, David E. Root, James E. Bradner, Todd R. Golub, Charles W.M. Roberts, William C. Hahn, William A. Weiss, Carol J. Thiele, Kimberly Stegmaier
Oncogenomic studies indicate that copy number variation (CNV) alters genes involved in tumor progression; however, identification of specific driver genes affected by CNV has been difficult, as these rearrangements are often contained in large chromosomal intervals among several bystander genes. Here, we addressed this problem and identified a CNV-targeted oncogene by performing comparative oncogenomics of human and zebrafish melanomas. We determined that the gene encoding growth differentiation factor 6 (GDF6), which is the ligand for the BMP family, is recurrently amplified and transcriptionally upregulated in melanoma. GDF6-induced BMP signaling maintained a trunk neural crest gene signature in melanomas. Additionally, GDF6 repressed the melanocyte differentiation gene MITF and the proapoptotic factor SOX9, thereby preventing differentiation, inhibiting cell death, and promoting tumor growth. GDF6 was specifically expressed in melanomas but not melanocytes. Moreover, GDF6 expression levels in melanomas were inversely correlated with patient survival. Our study has identified a fundamental role for GDF6 and BMP signaling in governing an embryonic cell gene signature to promote melanoma progression, thus providing potential opportunities for targeted therapy to treat GDF6-positive cancers.
Arvind M. Venkatesan, Rajesh Vyas, Alec K. Gramann, Karen Dresser, Sharvari Gujja, Sanchita Bhatnagar, Sagar Chhangawala, Camilla Borges Ferreira Gomes, Hualin Simon Xi, Christine G. Lian, Yariv Houvras, Yvonne J. K. Edwards, April Deng, Michael Green, Craig J. Ceol
The tumor suppressor protein retinoblastoma (RB) is mechanistically linked to suppression of transcription factor E2F1-mediated cell cycle regulation. For multiple tumor types, loss of RB function is associated with poor clinical outcome. RB action is abrogated either by direct depletion or through inactivation of RB function; however, the basis for this selectivity is unknown. Here, analysis of tumor samples and cell-free DNA from patients with advanced prostate cancer showed that direct RB loss was the preferred pathway of disruption in human disease. While RB loss was associated with lethal disease, RB-deficient tumors had no proliferative advantage and exhibited downstream effects distinct from cell cycle control. Mechanistically, RB loss led to E2F1 cistrome expansion and different binding specificity, alterations distinct from those observed after functional RB inactivation. Additionally, identification of protumorigenic transcriptional networks specific to RB loss that were validated in clinical samples demonstrated the ability of RB loss to differentially reprogram E2F1 in human cancers. Together, these findings not only identify tumor-suppressive functions of RB that are distinct from cell cycle control, but also demonstrate that the molecular consequence of RB loss is distinct from RB inactivation. Thus, these studies provide insight into how RB loss promotes disease progression, and identify new nodes for therapeutic intervention.
Christopher McNair, Kexin Xu, Amy C. Mandigo, Matteo Benelli, Benjamin Leiby, Daniel Rodrigues, Johan Lindberg, Henrik Gronberg, Mateus Crespo, Bram De Laere, Luc Dirix, Tapio Visakorpi, Fugen Li, Felix Y. Feng, Johann de Bono, Francesca Demichelis, Mark A. Rubin, Myles Brown, Karen E. Knudsen
Germline mutations in the gene encoding tumor suppressor kinase LKB1 lead to gastrointestinal tumorigenesis in Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS) patients and mouse models; however, the cell types and signaling pathways underlying tumor formation are unknown. Here, we demonstrated that mesenchymal progenitor- or stromal fibroblast–specific deletion of Lkb1 results in fully penetrant polyposis in mice. Lineage tracing and immunohistochemical analyses revealed clonal expansion of Lkb1-deficient myofibroblast-like cell foci in the tumor stroma. Loss of Lkb1 in stromal cells was associated with induction of an inflammatory program including IL-11 production and activation of the JAK/STAT3 pathway in tumor epithelia concomitant with proliferation. Importantly, treatment of LKB1-defcient mice with the JAK1/2 inhibitor ruxolitinib dramatically decreased polyposis. These data indicate that IL-11–mediated induction of JAK/STAT3 is critical in gastrointestinal tumorigenesis following Lkb1 mutations and suggest that targeting this pathway has therapeutic potential in Peutz-Jeghers syndrome.
Saara Ollila, Eva Domènech-Moreno, Kaisa Laajanen, Iris P.L. Wong, Sushil Tripathi, Nalle Pentinmikko, Yajing Gao, Yan Yan, Elina H. Niemelä, Timothy C. Wang, Benoit Viollet, Gustavo Leone, Pekka Katajisto, Kari Vaahtomeri, Tomi P. Mäkelä
STAT5B is often mutated in hematopoietic malignancies. The most frequent STAT5B mutation, Asp642His (N642H), has been found in over 90 leukemia and lymphoma patients. Here, we used the Vav1 promoter to generate transgenic mouse models that expressed either human STAT5B or STAT5BN642H in the hematopoietic compartment. While STAT5B-expressing mice lacked a hematopoietic phenotype, the STAT5BN642H-expressing mice rapidly developed T cell neoplasms. Neoplasia manifested as transplantable CD8+ lymphoma or leukemia, indicating that the STAT5BN642H mutation drives cancer development. Persistent and enhanced levels of STAT5BN642H tyrosine phosphorylation in transformed CD8+ T cells led to profound changes in gene expression that were accompanied by alterations in DNA methylation at potential histone methyltransferase EZH2-binding sites. Aurora kinase genes were enriched in STAT5BN642H-expressing CD8+ T cells, which were exquisitely sensitive to JAK and Aurora kinase inhibitors. Together, our data suggest that JAK and Aurora kinase inhibitors should be further explored as potential therapeutics for lymphoma and leukemia patients with the STAT5BN642H mutation who respond poorly to conventional chemotherapy.
Ha Thi Thanh Pham, Barbara Maurer, Michaela Prchal-Murphy, Reinhard Grausenburger, Eva Grundschober, Tahereh Javaheri, Harini Nivarthi, Auke Boersma, Thomas Kolbe, Mohamed Elabd, Florian Halbritter, Jan Pencik, Zahra Kazemi, Florian Grebien, Markus Hengstschläger, Lukas Kenner, Stefan Kubicek, Matthias Farlik, Christoph Bock, Peter Valent, Mathias Müller, Thomas Rülicke, Veronika Sexl, Richard Moriggl
Nearly 50% of prostate cancers harbor gene fusions that lead to overexpression of the transcription factor ERG, while a mutually exclusive 10% of prostate cancers harbor recurrent mutations in the gene encoding the E3 ubiquitin ligase SPOP. Recent reports suggest that SPOP acts as a ubiquitin ligase for ERG and propose that ERG stabilization is the oncogenic effector of SPOP mutation. Here, we used human prostate cancer samples and showed that the vast majority of human SPOP-mutant cancers do not express ERG. Comparison of SPOP-mutant and ERG-fusion organoid models showed evidence of divergent, rather than common, transcriptional programs. Furthermore, expression of prostate cancer–associated SPOP mutations in genetically engineered mouse models of SPOP-mutant prostate cancer did not result in the expression of ERG protein in histologically normal prostate glands, high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, invasive adenocarcinoma, or prostate organoids. In summary, we found no evidence that ERG is an effector of SPOP mutation in human prostate cancer or mouse models.
Jonathan Shoag, Deli Liu, Mirjam Blattner, Andrea Sboner, Kyung Park, Lesa Deonarine, Brian D. Robinson, Juan Miguel Mosquera, Yu Chen, Mark A. Rubin, Christopher E. Barbieri