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
During tumor progression, immune system phagocytes continually clear apoptotic cancer cells in a process known as efferocytosis. However, the impact of efferocytosis in metastatic tumor growth is unknown. In this study, we observed that macrophage-driven efferocytosis of prostate cancer cells in vitro induced the expression of proinflammatory cytokines such as CXCL5 by activating Stat3 and NF-κB(p65) signaling. Administration of a dimerizer ligand (AP20187) triggered apoptosis in 2 in vivo syngeneic models of bone tumor growth in which apoptosis-inducible prostate cancer cells were either coimplanted with vertebral bodies, or inoculated in the tibiae of immunocompetent mice. Induction of 2 pulses of apoptosis correlated with increased infiltration of inflammatory cells and accelerated tumor growth in the bone. Apoptosis-induced tumors displayed elevated expression of the proinflammatory cytokine CXCL5. Likewise, CXCL5-deficient mice had reduced tumor progression. Peripheral blood monocytes isolated from patients with bone metastasis of prostate cancer were more efferocytic compared with normal controls, and CXCL5 serum levels were higher in metastatic prostate cancer patients relative to patients with localized prostate cancer or controls. Altogether, these findings suggest that the myeloid phagocytic clearance of apoptotic cancer cells accelerates CXCL5-mediated inflammation and tumor growth in bone, pointing to CXCL5 as a potential target for cancer therapeutics.
Hernan Roca, Jacqueline D. Jones, Marta C. Purica, Savannah Weidner, Amy J. Koh, Robert Kuo, John E. Wilkinson, Yugang Wang, Stephanie Daignault-Newton, Kenneth J. Pienta, Todd M. Morgan, Evan T. Keller, Jacques E. Nör, Lonnie D. Shea, Laurie K. McCauley
Metabolic reprogramming in breast tumors is linked to increases in putative oncogenic metabolites that may contribute to malignant transformation. We previously showed that accumulation of the oncometabolite, 2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG), in breast tumors was associated with MYC signaling, but not with isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) mutations, suggesting a distinct mechanism for increased 2HG in breast cancer. Here, we determined that D-2HG is the predominant enantiomer in human breast tumors and show that the D-2HG–producing mitochondrial enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase, iron-containing protein 1 (ADHFE1), is a breast cancer oncogene that decreases patient survival. We found that MYC upregulates ADHFE1 through changes in iron metabolism while coexpression of both ADHFE1 and MYC strongly enhanced orthotopic tumor growth in MCF7 cells. Moreover, ADHFE1 promoted metabolic reprogramming with increased formation of D-2HG and reactive oxygen, a reductive glutamine metabolism, and modifications of the epigenetic landscape, leading to cellular dedifferentiation, enhanced mesenchymal transition, and phenocopying alterations that occur with high D-2HG levels in cancer cells with IDH mutations. Together, our data support the hypothesis that ADHFE1 and MYC signaling contribute to D-2HG accumulation in breast tumors and show that D-2HG is an oncogenic metabolite and potential driver of disease progression.
Prachi Mishra, Wei Tang, Vasanta Putluri, Tiffany H. Dorsey, Feng Jin, Fang Wang, Donewei Zhu, Lauren Amable, Tao Deng, Shaofei Zhang, J. Keith Killian, Yonghong Wang, Tsion Z. Minas, Harry G. Yfantis, Dong H. Lee, Arun Sreekumar, Michael Bustin, Wei Liu, Nagireddy Putluri, Stefan Ambs
Medulloblastoma, an aggressive cancer of the cerebellum, is among the most common pediatric brain tumors. Approximately one-third of medulloblastomas are associated with misactivation of the Hedgehog (Hh) pathway. GLI family zinc finger 2 (GLI2) coordinates the Hh transcriptional program; however, the GLI2 targets that promote cancer cell proliferation are unknown. Here, we incorporated a Gli2-EGFP allele into 2 different genetic mouse models of Hh-associated medulloblastoma. Hh signaling induced GLI2 binding to the Cdk6 promoter and activated Cdk6 expression, thereby promoting uncontrolled cell proliferation. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of CDK6 in mice repressed the growth of Hh-associated medulloblastoma and prolonged survival through inhibition of cell proliferation. In human medulloblastoma, misactivation of Hh signaling was associated with high levels of CDK6, pointing to CDK6 as a direct transcriptional target of the Hh pathway. These results suggest that CDK6 antagonists may be a promising therapeutic approach for Hh-associated medulloblastoma in humans.
David R. Raleigh, Pervinder K. Choksi, Alexis Leigh Krup, Wasima Mayer, Nicole Santos, Jeremy F. Reiter
Synovial sarcoma (SS) is an aggressive soft-tissue sarcoma that is often discovered during adolescence and young adulthood. Despite the name, synovial sarcoma does not typically arise from a synoviocyte but instead arises in close proximity to bones. Previous work demonstrated that mice expressing the characteristic SS18-SSX fusion oncogene in myogenic factor 5–expressing (Myf5-expressing) cells develop fully penetrant sarcomagenesis, suggesting skeletal muscle progenitor cell origin. However, Myf5 is not restricted to committed myoblasts in embryos but is also expressed in multipotent mesenchymal progenitors. Here, we demonstrated that human SS and mouse tumors arising from SS18-SSX expression in the embryonic, but not postnatal, Myf5 lineage share an anatomic location that is frequently adjacent to bone. Additionally, we showed that SS can originate from periosteal cells expressing SS18-SSX alone and from preosteoblasts expressing the fusion oncogene accompanied by the added stabilization of β-catenin, which is a common secondary change in SS. Expression and secretion of the osteoclastogenesis inhibitory factor osteoprotegerin enabled early growth of SS18-SSX2–transformed cells, indicating a paracrine link between the bone and synovial sarcomagenesis. These findings explain the skeletal contact frequently observed in human SS and may provide alternate means of enabling SS18-SSX–driven oncogenesis in cells as differentiated as preosteoblasts.
Jared J. Barrott, Benjamin E. Illum, Huifeng Jin, Matthew L. Hedberg, Yanliang Wang, Allie Grossmann, Malay Haldar, Mario R. Capecchi, Kevin B. Jones