[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the deadliest cancers in western countries, with a median survival of 6 months and an extremely low percentage of long-term surviving patients. KRAS mutations are known to be a driver event of PDAC, but targeting mutant KRAS has proved challenging. Targeting oncogene-driven signalling pathways is a clinically validated approach for several devastating diseases. Still, despite marked tumour shrinkage, the frequency of relapse indicates that a fraction of tumour cells survives shut down of oncogenic signalling. Here we explore the role of mutant KRAS in PDAC maintenance using a recently developed inducible mouse model of mutated Kras (Kras(G12D), herein KRas) in a p53(LoxP/WT) background. We demonstrate that a subpopulation of dormant tumour cells surviving oncogene ablation (surviving cells) and responsible for tumour relapse has features of cancer stem cells and relies on oxidative phosphorylation for survival. Transcriptomic and metabolic analyses of surviving cells reveal prominent expression of genes governing mitochondrial function, autophagy and lysosome activity, as well as a strong reliance on mitochondrial respiration and a decreased dependence on glycolysis for cellular energetics. Accordingly, surviving cells show high sensitivity to oxidative phosphorylation inhibitors, which can inhibit tumour recurrence. Our integrated analyses illuminate a therapeutic strategy of combined targeting of the KRAS pathway and mitochondrial respiration to manage pancreatic cancer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glioma sphere-forming cells (GSCs) derived from surgical specimens are a fundamental resource to study glioblastoma (GBM) biology. Mesenchymal-expressing GSCs have been proposed as a source of treatment resistance and mesenchymal tumors correlate with poorer survival. Recently, we found that the anti-angiogensis drug bevacizumab appeared to provide no benefit to patients with mesenchymal tumors, in contradiction to expectations that a mesenchymal microenvironment may benefit from anti-angiogenesis therapy. We have developed a collection of GSCs that have undergone comprehensive genomic characterization, similar to that performed by the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) for whole tumor specimens. We hypothesized that the genomic landscape of GSCs would recapitulate what was observed by TCGA.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Activating mutations in KRAS are among the most frequent events in diverse human carcinomas and are particularly prominent in human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). An inducible Kras(G12D)-driven mouse model of PDAC has established a critical role for sustained Kras(G12D) expression in tumor maintenance, providing a model to determine the potential for and the underlying mechanisms of Kras(G12D)-independent PDAC recurrence. Here, we show that some tumors undergo spontaneous relapse and are devoid of Kras(G12D) expression and downstream canonical MAPK signaling and instead acquire amplification and overexpression of the transcriptional coactivator Yap1. Functional studies established the role of Yap1 and the transcriptional factor Tead2 in driving Kras(G12D)-independent tumor maintenance. The Yap1/Tead2 complex acts cooperatively with E2F transcription factors to activate a cell cycle and DNA replication program. Our studies, along with corroborating evidence from human PDAC models, portend a novel mechanism of escape from oncogenic Kras addiction in PDAC.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Melanoma is a highly lethal malignancy notorious for its aggressive clinical course and eventual resistance to existing therapies. Currently, we possess a limited understanding of the genetic events driving melanoma progression, and much effort is focused on identifying pro-metastatic aberrations or perturbed signaling networks that constitute new therapeutic targets. In this study, we validate and assess the mechanism by which homeobox transcription factor A1 (HOXA1), a pro-invasion oncogene previously identified in a metastasis screen by our group, contributes to melanoma progression. Transcriptome and pathway profiling analyses of cells expressing HOXA1 reveals upregulation of factors involved in diverse cytokine pathways that include the transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signaling axis, which we further demonstrate to be required for HOXA1-mediated cell invasion in melanoma cells. Transcriptome profiling also shows HOXA1's ability to potently downregulate expression of microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) and other genes required for melanocyte differentiation, suggesting a mechanism by which HOXA1 expression de-differentiates cells into a pro-invasive cell state concomitant with TGFβ activation. Our analysis of publicly available data sets indicate that the HOXA1-induced gene signature successfully categorizes melanoma specimens based on their metastatic potential and, importantly, is capable of stratifying melanoma patient risk for metastasis based on expression in primary tumors. Together, these validation data and mechanistic insights suggest that patients whose primary tumors express HOXA1 are among a high-risk metastasis subgroup that should be considered for anti-TGFβ therapy in adjuvant settings. Moreover, further analysis of HOXA1 target genes in melanoma may reveal new pathways or targets amenable to therapeutic intervention.Oncogene advance online publication, 25 February 2013; doi:10.1038/onc.2013.30.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Melanoma is notable for its metastatic propensity, lethality in the advanced setting and association with ultraviolet exposure early in life. To obtain a comprehensive genomic view of melanoma in humans, we sequenced the genomes of 25 metastatic melanomas and matched germline DNA. A wide range of point mutation rates was observed: lowest in melanomas whose primaries arose on non-ultraviolet-exposed hairless skin of the extremities (3 and 14 per megabase (Mb) of genome), intermediate in those originating from hair-bearing skin of the trunk (5-55 per Mb), and highest in a patient with a documented history of chronic sun exposure (111 per Mb). Analysis of whole-genome sequence data identified PREX2 (phosphatidylinositol-3,4,5-trisphosphate-dependent Rac exchange factor 2)--a PTEN-interacting protein and negative regulator of PTEN in breast cancer--as a significantly mutated gene with a mutation frequency of approximately 14% in an independent extension cohort of 107 human melanomas. PREX2 mutations are biologically relevant, as ectopic expression of mutant PREX2 accelerated tumour formation of immortalized human melanocytes in vivo. Thus, whole-genome sequencing of human melanoma tumours revealed genomic evidence of ultraviolet pathogenesis and discovered a new recurrently mutated gene in melanoma.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MYC contributes to the pathogenesis of a majority of human cancers, yet strategies to modulate the function of the c-Myc oncoprotein do not exist. Toward this objective, we have targeted MYC transcription by interfering with chromatin-dependent signal transduction to RNA polymerase, specifically by inhibiting the acetyl-lysine recognition domains (bromodomains) of putative coactivator proteins implicated in transcriptional initiation and elongation. Using a selective small-molecule bromodomain inhibitor, JQ1, we identify BET bromodomain proteins as regulatory factors for c-Myc. BET inhibition by JQ1 downregulates MYC transcription, followed by genome-wide downregulation of Myc-dependent target genes. In experimental models of multiple myeloma, a Myc-dependent hematologic malignancy, JQ1 produces a potent antiproliferative effect associated with cell-cycle arrest and cellular senescence. Efficacy of JQ1 in three murine models of multiple myeloma establishes the therapeutic rationale for BET bromodomain inhibition in this disease and other malignancies characterized by pathologic activation of c-Myc.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Multiple human epidemiologic studies link caffeinated (but not decaffeinated) beverage intake with significant decreases in several types of cancer, including highly prevalent UV-associated skin carcinomas. The mechanism by which caffeine protects against skin cancer is unknown. Ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) is a replication checkpoint kinase activated by DNA stresses and is one of several targets of caffeine. Suppression of ATR, or its downstream target checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1), selectively sensitizes DNA-damaged and malignant cells to apoptosis. Agents that target this pathway are currently in clinical trials. Conversely, inhibition of other DNA damage response pathways, such as ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and BRCA1, promotes cancer. To determine the effect of replication checkpoint inhibition on carcinogenesis, we generated transgenic mice with diminished ATR function in skin and crossed them into a UV-sensitive background, Xpc(-/-). Unlike caffeine, this genetic approach was selective and had no effect on ATM activation. These transgenic mice were viable and showed no histological abnormalities in skin. Primary keratinocytes from these mice had diminished UV-induced Chk1 phosphorylation and twofold augmentation of apoptosis after UV exposure (P = 0.006). With chronic UV treatment, transgenic mice remained tumor-free for significantly longer (P = 0.003) and had 69% fewer tumors at the end of observation of the full cohort (P = 0.019), compared with littermate controls with the same genetic background. This study suggests that inhibition of replication checkpoint function can suppress skin carcinogenesis and supports ATR inhibition as the relevant mechanism for the protective effect of caffeinated beverage intake in human epidemiologic studies.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2011; 108(33):13716-21. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clinical and genomic evidence suggests that the metastatic potential of a primary tumor may be dictated by prometastatic events that have additional oncogenic capability. To test this "deterministic" hypothesis, we adopted a comparative oncogenomics-guided function-based strategy involving: (1) comparison of global transcriptomes of two genetically engineered mouse models with contrasting metastatic potential, (2) genomic and transcriptomic profiles of human melanoma, (3) functional genetic screen for enhancers of cell invasion, and (4) evidence of expression selection in human melanoma tissues. This integrated effort identified six genes that are potently proinvasive and oncogenic. Furthermore, we show that one such gene, ACP5, confers spontaneous metastasis in vivo, engages a key pathway governing metastasis, and is prognostic in human primary melanomas.
Cancer cell 07/2011; 20(1):92-103. · 25.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Telomere dysfunction activates p53-mediated cellular growth arrest, senescence and apoptosis to drive progressive atrophy and functional decline in high-turnover tissues. The broader adverse impact of telomere dysfunction across many tissues including more quiescent systems prompted transcriptomic network analyses to identify common mechanisms operative in haematopoietic stem cells, heart and liver. These unbiased studies revealed profound repression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, coactivator 1 alpha and beta (PGC-1alpha and PGC-1beta, also known as Ppargc1a and Ppargc1b, respectively) and the downstream network in mice null for either telomerase reverse transcriptase (Tert) or telomerase RNA component (Terc) genes. Consistent with PGCs as master regulators of mitochondrial physiology and metabolism, telomere dysfunction is associated with impaired mitochondrial biogenesis and function, decreased gluconeogenesis, cardiomyopathy, and increased reactive oxygen species. In the setting of telomere dysfunction, enforced Tert or PGC-1alpha expression or germline deletion of p53 (also known as Trp53) substantially restores PGC network expression, mitochondrial respiration, cardiac function and gluconeogenesis. We demonstrate that telomere dysfunction activates p53 which in turn binds and represses PGC-1alpha and PGC-1beta promoters, thereby forging a direct link between telomere and mitochondrial biology. We propose that this telomere-p53-PGC axis contributes to organ and metabolic failure and to diminishing organismal fitness in the setting of telomere dysfunction.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Telomere dysfunction activates p53-mediated cellular growth arrest, senescence and apoptosis to drive progressive atrophy and functional decline in high-turnover tissues. The broader adverse impact of telomere dysfunction across many tissues including more quiescent systems prompted transcriptomic network analyses to identify common mechanisms operative in haematopoietic stem cells, heart and liver. These unbiased studies revealed profound repression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, coactivator 1 alpha and beta (PGC-1α and PGC-1β, also known as Ppargc1a and Ppargc1b, respectively) and the downstream network in mice null for either telomerase reverse transcriptase (Tert) or telomerase RNA component (Terc) genes. Consistent with PGCs as master regulators of mitochondrial physiology and metabolism, telomere dysfunction is associated with impaired mitochondrial biogenesis and function, decreased gluconeogenesis, cardiomyopathy, and increased reactive oxygen species. In the setting of telomere dysfunction, enforced Tert or PGC-1α expression or germline deletion of p53 (also known as Trp53) substantially restores PGC network expression, mitochondrial respiration, cardiac function and gluconeogenesis. We demonstrate that telomere dysfunction activates p53 which in turn binds and represses PGC-1α and PGC-1β promoters, thereby forging a direct link between telomere and mitochondrial biology. We propose that this telomere-p53-PGC axis contributes to organ and metabolic failure and to diminishing organismal fitness in the setting of telomere dysfunction.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: New approaches to prevent and reverse UV damage are needed to combat rising sunlight-induced skin cancer rates. Mouse studies have shown that oral or topical caffeine promotes elimination of UV-damaged keratinocytes through apoptosis and markedly inhibits subsequent skin cancer development. This potentially important therapeutic effect has not been studied in human skin cells. Here, we use primary human keratinocytes to examine which of several caffeine effects mediates this process. In these cells, caffeine more than doubled apoptosis after 75 mJ cm(-2) of ultraviolet light B (UVB). Selectively targeting two of caffeine's known effects did not alter UVB-induced apoptosis: inhibition of ataxia-telangiectasia mutated and augmentation of cyclic AMP levels. In contrast, siRNA against ataxia-telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) doubled apoptosis after UV through a p53-independent mechanism. Caffeine did not further augment apoptosis after UVB in cells in which ATR had been specifically depleted, suggesting that a key target of caffeine in this effect is ATR. Inhibition of a central ATR target, checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1), through siRNA or a new and highly specific inhibitor (PF610666) also augmented UVB-induced apoptosis. These data suggest that a relevant target of caffeine is the ATR-Chk1 pathway and that inhibiting ATR or Chk1 might have promise in preventing or reversing UV damage.
Journal of Investigative Dermatology 03/2009; 129(7):1805-15. · 6.19 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have developed a nonheuristic genome topography scan (GTS) algorithm to characterize the patterns of genomic alterations in human glioblastoma (GBM), identifying frequent p18(INK4C) and p16(INK4A) codeletion. Functional reconstitution of p18(INK4C) in GBM cells null for both p16(INK4A) and p18(INK4C) resulted in impaired cell-cycle progression and tumorigenic potential. Conversely, RNAi-mediated depletion of p18(INK4C) in p16(INK4A)-deficient primary astrocytes or established GBM cells enhanced tumorigenicity in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, acute suppression of p16(INK4A) in primary astrocytes induced a concomitant increase in p18(INK4C). Together, these findings uncover a feedback regulatory circuit in the astrocytic lineage and demonstrate a bona fide tumor suppressor role for p18(INK4C) in human GBM wherein it functions cooperatively with other INK4 family members to constrain inappropriate proliferation.
Cancer cell 05/2008; 13(4):355-64. · 25.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The S checkpoint response to ultraviolet radiation (UVC) that inhibits replicon initiation is dependent on the ATR and Chk1 kinases. Downstream effectors of this response, however, are not well characterized. Data reported here eliminated Cdc25A degradation and inhibition of Cdk2-cyclin E as intrinsic components of the UVC-induced pathway of inhibition of replicon initiation in human cells. A sublethal dose of UVC (1 J/m(2)), which selectively inhibits replicon initiation by 50%, failed to reduce the amount of Cdc25A protein or decrease Cdk2-cyclin E kinase activity. Cdc25A degradation was observed after irradiation with cytotoxic fluences of UVC, suggesting that severe inhibition of DNA chain elongation and activation of the replication checkpoint might be responsible for the UVC-induced degradation of Cdc25A. Another proposed effector of the S checkpoint is the Cdc7-Dbf4 complex. Dbf4 interacted weakly with Chk1 in vivo but was recognized as a substrate for Chk1-dependent phosphorylation in vitro. FLAG-Dbf4 formed complexes with endogenous Cdc7, and this interaction was stable in UVC-irradiated HeLa cells. Overexpression of FLAG- or Myc-tagged Dbf4 abrogated the S checkpoint response to UVC but not ionizing radiation. These findings implicate a Dbf4-dependent kinase as a possible target of the ATR- and Chk1-dependent S checkpoint response to UVC.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 04/2007; 282(13):9458-68. · 4.60 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: At any moment during S phase, regions of genomic DNA are in various stages of replication (i.e., initiation, chain elongation, and termination). These stages may be differentially inhibited after treatment with various carcinogens that damage DNA such as UV. We used visualization of active replication units in combed DNA fibers, in combination with quantitative analyses of the size distributions of nascent DNA, to evaluate the role of S-checkpoint proteins in UV-induced inhibition of DNA replication. When HeLa cells were exposed to a low fluence (1 J/m(2)) of 254 nm UV light (UVC), new initiation events were severely inhibited (5-6-fold reduction). A larger fluence of UVC (10 J/m(2)) resulted in stronger inhibition of the overall rate of DNA synthesis without decreasing further the frequency of replicon initiation events. Incubation of HeLa cells with caffeine and knockdown of ATR or Chk1 kinases reversed the UVC-induced inhibition of initiation of new replicons. These findings illustrate the concordance of data derived from different experimental approaches, thus strengthening the evidence that the activation of the intra-S checkpoint by UVC is dependent on the ATR and Chk1 kinases.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Secondary cultures of human fibroblasts display a finite lifespan ending at senescence. Loss of p53 function by mutation or viral oncogene expression bypasses senescence, allowing cell division to continue for an additional 10-20 doublings. During this time chromosomal aberrations seen in mitotic cells increase while DNA damage and decatenation checkpoint functions in G2 cells decrease.
To explore this complex interplay between chromosomal instability and checkpoint dysfunction, human fibroblast lines were derived that expressed HPV16E6 oncoprotein or dominant-negative alleles of p53 (A143V and H179Q) with or without the catalytic subunit of telomerase.
Cells with normal p53 function displayed 86-93% G1 arrest after exposure to 1.5 Gy ionizing radiation (IR). Expression of HPV16E6 or p53-H179Q severely attenuated G1 checkpoint function (3-20% arrest) while p53-A143V expression induced intermediate attenuation (55-57% arrest) irrespective of telomerase expression. All cell lines, regardless of telomerase expression or p53 status, exhibited a normal DNA damage G2 checkpoint response following exposure to 1.5 Gy IR prior to the senescence checkpoint. As telomerase-negative cells bypassed senescence, the frequencies of chromosomal aberrations increased generally congruent with attenuation of G2 checkpoint function. Telomerase expression allowed cells with defective p53 function to grow >175 doublings without chromosomal aberrations or attenuation of G2 checkpoint function.
Thus, chromosomal instability in cells with defective p53 function appears to depend upon telomere erosion not loss of the DNA damage induced G1 checkpoint.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Telomerase-immortalized lines of diploid xeroderma pigmentosum variant (XP-V) fibroblasts (XP115LO and XP4BE) were complemented for constitutive or regulated expression of wild-type human DNA polymerase eta (hpol eta). The ectopic gene was expressed from a retroviral LTR at a population average of 34- to 59-fold above the endogenous (mutated) mRNA and high levels of hpol eta were detected by immunoblotting. The POLH cDNA was also cloned downstream from an ecdysone-regulated promoter and transduced into the same recipient cells. Abundance of the wild-type mRNA increased approximately 10-fold by addition of ponasterone to the culture medium. Complemented cell lines acquired normal resistance to the cytotoxic effects of UVC, even in the presence of 1mM caffeine. They also tolerated higher levels of UVC-induced template lesions during nascent DNA elongation when compared to normal fibroblasts (NHF). UVC-induced mutation frequencies at the hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyl transferase (HPRT) locus were measured in the XP115LO+XPV cell line overproducing hpol eta constitutively (E. Bassett, N.M. King, M.F. Bryant, S. Hector, L. Pendyala, S.G. Chaney, M. Cordeiro-Stone, The role of DNA polymerase eta in translesion synthesis past platinum-DNA adducts in human fibroblasts, Cancer Res. 64 (2004) 6469-6475). Induced mutation frequencies were significantly reduced, even below those observed in NHF; however, the average mutation frequency in untreated cultures was about three-fold higher than in the isogenic vector-control cell line. In this study, spontaneous HPRT mutation frequencies were measured at regular intervals, as isogenic fibroblasts either lacking or overproducing hpol eta were expanded for 100 population doublings. The mutation rates estimated from these results were not significantly increased in XP115LO cells expressing abnormal levels of hpol eta, relative to the cells lacking this specialized polymerase. These findings suggest that diploid human fibroblasts with normal DNA repair capacities and intact checkpoints are well protected against the potential mutagenic outcome of overproducing hpol eta, while still benefiting from accurate translesion synthesis of UV-induced pyrimidine dimers.
DNA Repair 07/2005; 4(6):714-24. · 3.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ability of caffeine to reverse cell cycle checkpoint function and enhance genotoxicity after DNA damage was examined in telomerase-expressing human fibroblasts. Caffeine reversed the ATM-dependent S and G2 checkpoint responses to DNA damage induced by ionizing radiation (IR), as well as the ATR- and Chk1-dependent S checkpoint response to ultraviolet radiation (UVC). Remarkably, under conditions in which IR-induced G2 delay was reversed by caffeine, IR-induced G1 arrest was not. Incubation in caffeine did not increase the percentage of cells entering the S phase 6-8h after irradiation; ATM-dependent phosphorylation of p53 and transactivation of p21(Cip1/Waf1) post-IR were resistant to caffeine. Caffeine alone induced a concentration- and time-dependent inhibition of DNA synthesis. It inhibited the entry of human fibroblasts into S phase by 70-80% regardless of the presence or absence of wildtype ATM or p53. Caffeine also enhanced the inhibition of cell proliferation induced by UVC in XP variant fibroblasts. This effect was reversed by expression of DNA polymerase eta, indicating that translesion synthesis of UVC-induced pyrimidine dimers by DNA pol eta protects human fibroblasts against UVC genotoxic effects even when other DNA repair functions are compromised by caffeine.
Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis 12/2003; 532(1-2):85-102. · 4.44 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inhibition of replicon initiation is a stereotypic DNA damage response mediated through S checkpoint mechanisms not yet fully understood. Studies were undertaken to elucidate the function of checkpoint proteins in the inhibition of replicon initiation following irradiation with 254 nm UV light (UVC) of diploid human fibroblasts immortalized by the ectopic expression of telomerase. Velocity sedimentation analysis of nascent DNA molecules revealed a 50% inhibition of replicon initiation when normal human fibroblasts were treated with a low dose of UVC (1 J/m(2)). Ataxia telangiectasia (AT), Nijmegen breakage syndrome (NBS), and AT-like disorder fibroblasts, which lack an S checkpoint response when exposed to ionizing radiation, responded normally when exposed to UVC and inhibited replicon initiation. Pretreatment of normal and AT fibroblasts with caffeine or UCN-01, inhibitors of ATR (AT mutated and Rad3 related) and Chk1, respectively, abolished the S checkpoint response to UVC. Moreover, overexpression of kinase-inactive ATR in U2OS cells severely attenuated UVC-induced Chk1 phosphorylation and reversed the UVC-induced inhibition of replicon initiation, as did overexpression of kinase-inactive Chk1. Taken together, these data suggest that the UVC-induced S checkpoint response of inhibition of replicon initiation is mediated by ATR signaling through Chk-1 and is independent of ATM, Nbs1, and Mre11.
Molecular and Cellular Biology 01/2003; 22(24):8552-61. · 5.04 Impact Factor