[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ability to induce pluripotent stem cells from committed, somatic human cells provides tremendous potential for regenerative medicine. However, there is a defined neoplastic potential inherent to such reprogramming that must be understood and may provide a model for understanding key events in tumorigenesis. Using genome-wide assays, we identify cancer-related epigenetic abnormalities that arise early during reprogramming and persist in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS) clones. These include hundreds of abnormal gene silencing events, patterns of aberrant responses to epigenetic-modifying drugs resembling those for cancer cells, and presence in iPS and partially reprogrammed cells of cancer-specific gene promoter DNA methylation alterations. Our findings suggest that by studying the process of induced reprogramming, we may gain significant insight into the origins of epigenetic gene silencing associated with human tumorigenesis, and add to means of assessing iPS for safety.
Cancer Research 10/2010; 70(19):7662-73. · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The malignant brain cancer medulloblastoma is characterized by mutations in Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway genes, which lead to constitutive activation of the G protein (heterotrimeric guanosine triphosphate-binding protein)-coupled receptor Smoothened (Smo). The Smo antagonist NVP-LDE225 inhibits Hh signaling and induces tumor regression in animal models of medulloblastoma. However, evidence of resistance was observed during the course of treatment. Molecular analysis of resistant tumors revealed several resistance mechanisms. We noted chromosomal amplification of Gli2, a downstream effector of Hh signaling, and, more rarely, point mutations in Smo that led to reactivated Hh signaling and restored tumor growth. Analysis of pathway gene expression signatures also, unexpectedly, identified up-regulation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling in resistant tumors as another potential mechanism of resistance. Probing the relevance of increased PI3K signaling, we demonstrated that addition of the PI3K inhibitor NVP-BKM120 or the dual PI3K-mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) inhibitor NVP-BEZ235 to the initial treatment with the Smo antagonist markedly delayed the development of resistance. Our findings may be useful in informing treatment strategies for medulloblastoma.
Science translational medicine 09/2010; 2(51):51ra70. · 10.76 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The tumor suppressor gene hypermethylated in cancer 1 (HIC1), which encodes a transcriptional repressor, is epigenetically inactivated in various human cancers. In this study, we show that HIC1 is a direct transcriptional repressor of the gene encoding ephrin-A1, a cell surface ligand implicated in the pathogenesis of epithelial cancers. We also show that mouse embryos lacking both Hic1 alleles manifest developmental defects spatially associated with the misexpression of ephrin-A1, and that overexpression of ephrin-A1 is a feature of tumors arising in Hic1 heterozygous mice in which the remaining wild-type allele is epigenetically silenced. In breast cancer, we find that ephrin-A1 expression is common in vivo, but that in cell culture, expression of the EphA receptors is predominant. Restoration of HIC1 function in breast cancer cells leads to a reduction in tumor growth in vivo, an effect that can be partially rescued by co-overexpression of ephrin-A1. Interestingly, overexpression of ephrin-A1 in vitro triggers downregulation of EphA2 and EphA4 levels, resulting in an expression pattern similar to that seen in vivo. We conclude that Hic1 spatially restricts ephrin-A1 expression in development, and that upregulated expression of ephrin-A1 resulting from epigenetic silencing of HIC1 in cancer cells may be an important mechanism in epithelial malignancy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hypermethylated in cancer-1 (HIC1) is a tumor suppressor frequently targeted for promoter hypermethylation in medulloblastoma, an embryonal tumor of the cerebellum. Recently, we showed that HIC1 is a direct transcriptional repressor of ATOH1, a proneural transcription factor required for normal cerebellar development, as well as for medulloblastoma cell viability. Because demethylating agents can induce reexpression of silenced tumor suppressors, restoring HIC1 function may present an attractive therapeutic avenue in medulloblastoma by exploiting an apparent addiction to ATOH1.
Cancer Research 12/2008; 68(21):8654-6. · 9.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Medulloblastoma is an embryonal tumor thought to arise from the granule cell precursors (GCPs) of the cerebellum. PATCHED (PTCH), an inhibitor of Hedgehog signaling, is the best-characterized tumor suppressor in medulloblastoma. However, <20% of medulloblastomas have mutations in PTCH. In the search for other tumor suppressors, interest has focused on the deletion events at the 17p13.3 locus, the most common genetic defect in medulloblastoma. This chromosomal region contains HYPERMETHYLATED IN CANCER 1 (HIC1), a transcriptional repressor that is a frequent target of epigenetic gene silencing in medulloblastoma. Here we use a mouse model of Ptch1 heterozygosity to reveal a critical tumor suppressor function for Hic1 in medulloblastoma. When compared with Ptch1 heterozygous mutants, compound Ptch1/Hic1 heterozygotes display a fourfold increased incidence of medulloblastoma. We show that Hic1 is a direct transcriptional repressor of Atonal Homolog 1 (Atoh1), a proneural transcription factor essential for cerebellar development, and show that ATOH1 expression is required for human medulloblastoma cell growth in vitro. Given that Atoh1 is also a putative target of Hh signaling, we conclude that the Hic1 and Ptch1 tumor suppressors cooperate to silence Atoh1 expression during a critical phase in GCP differentiation in which malignant transformation may lead to medulloblastoma.
Genes & Development 03/2008; 22(6):770-85. · 12.44 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Activation of the Hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathway by sporadic mutations or in familial conditions such as Gorlin's syndrome is associated with tumorigenesis in skin, the cerebellum and skeletal muscle. Here we show that a wide range of digestive tract tumours, including most of those originating in the oesophagus, stomach, biliary tract and pancreas, but not in the colon, display increased Hh pathway activity, which is suppressible by cyclopamine, a Hh pathway antagonist. Cyclopamine also suppresses cell growth in vitro and causes durable regression of xenograft tumours in vivo. Unlike in Gorlin's syndrome tumours, pathway activity and cell growth in these digestive tract tumours are driven by endogenous expression of Hh ligands, as indicated by the presence of Sonic hedgehog and Indian hedgehog transcripts, by the pathway- and growth-inhibitory activity of a Hh-neutralizing antibody, and by the dramatic growth-stimulatory activity of exogenously added Hh ligand. Our results identify a group of common lethal malignancies in which Hh pathway activity, essential for tumour growth, is activated not by mutation but by ligand expression.