[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: TR3 is an orphan member of the steroid/thyroid/retinoid nuclear receptor superfamily of transcription factors and it plays a pivotal role in regulating cell growth and apoptosis. The expression and function of TR3 in skin have not been well investigated. Using a cDNA expression assay, we discover that TR3 is significantly enriched in human telogen bulge compared with anagen bulb. Immunohistochemical staining confirms that TR3 is highly expressed in the bulge region of human hair follicles and it colocalizes with cytokeratin 15 (K15), an epithelial stem cell marker. To study the function of TR3 in the effect of androgens in keratinocytes, we treat HaCaT keratinocytes and primary human keratinocytes with dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and testosterone (T). The treated keratinocytes show a dose-dependent growth reduction to DHT and T. DHT increases the expression of TR3 in keratinocytes, associated with a concomitant increase of BAD and decrease of Bcl-2 expression. Knockdown TR3 expression by siRNA blocks the inhibitory effect of DHT on keratinocyte proliferation. Our results demonstrate that TR3 is localized to the stem cell compartment in the human hair follicles. Androgen increases TR3 expression in cultured keratinocytes. Our data suggest that TR3 mediates at least part of the inhibitory effect of androgens on keratinocytes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The anaphase-promoting complex or cyclosome with the subunit Cdh1 (APC/C(Cdh1)) is an E3 ubiquitin ligase involved in the control of the cell cycle. Here, we identified sporadic mutations occurring in the genes encoding APC components, including Cdh1, in human melanoma samples and found that loss of APC/C(Cdh1) may promote melanoma development and progression, but not by affecting cell cycle regulatory targets of APC/C. Most of the mutations we found in CDH1 were those associated with ultraviolet light (UV)-induced melanomagenesis. Compared with normal human skin tissue and human or mouse melanocytes, the abundance of Cdh1 was decreased and that of the transcription factor PAX3 was increased in human melanoma tissue and human or mouse melanoma cell lines, respectively; Cdh1 abundance was further decreased with advanced stages of human melanoma. PAX3 was a substrate of APC/C(Cdh1) in melanocytes, and APC/C(Cdh1)-mediated ubiquitylation marked PAX3 for proteolytic degradation in a manner dependent on the D-box motif in PAX3. Either mutating the D-box in PAX3 or knocking down Cdh1 prevented the ubiquitylation and degradation of PAX3 and increased proliferation and melanin production in melanocytes. Knocking down Cdh1 in melanoma cells in culture or before implantation in mice promoted doxorubicin resistance, whereas reexpressing wild-type Cdh1, but not E3 ligase-deficient Cdh1 or a mutant that could not interact with PAX3, restored doxorubicin sensitivity in melanoma cells both in culture and in xenografts. Thus, our findings suggest a tumor suppressor role for APC/C(Cdh1) in melanocytes and that targeting PAX3 may be a strategy for treating melanoma.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Resistance to BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) is one of the major challenges for targeted therapies for BRAF mutant melanomas. However, little is known about the role of microRNAs in conferring BRAFi-resistance. Herein, we demonstrate that miR-200c expression is significantly reduced whereas miR-200c target genes including Bmi1, Zeb2, Tubb3, ABCG5 and MDR1 are significantly increased in melanomas that acquired BRAFi resistance compared to pre-treatment tumor biopsies. Similar changes were observed in BRAFi-resistant melanoma cell lines. Overexpression of miR-200c or knockdown of Bmi1 in resistant melanoma cells restores their sensitivities to BRAFi, leading to deactivation of the PI3K/AKT and MAPK signaling cascades, and acquisition of epithelial-mesenchymal transition-like phenotypes, including up-regulation of E-cadherin, down-regulation of N-cadherin, and ABCG5 and MDR1 expression. Conversely, knockdown of miR-200c or overexpression of Bmi1 in BRAFi-sensitive melanoma cells activates the PI3K/AKT and MAPK pathways, upregulates N-cadherin, ABCG5 and MDR1 expression, and downregulation of E-cadherin expression, leading to BRAFi-resistance. Together, our data identify miR-200c as a critical signaling node in BRAFi-resistant melanomas impacting the MAPK and PI3K/AKT pathways, suggesting miR-200c as a potential therapeutic target for overcoming acquired BRAFi resistance. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Circulating tumor cell (CTC) detection and genetic analysis may complement currently available disease assessments in patients with melanoma to improve risk stratification and monitoring. We therefore sought to establish the feasibility of a telomerase-based assay for detecting and isolating live melanoma CTCs.
The telomerase-based CTC assay utilizes an adenoviral vector that, in the presence of elevated human telomerase activity, drives the amplification of green fluorescent protein. Tumor cells are then identified via an image processing system. The protocol was tested on melanoma cells in culture or spiked into control blood, and on samples from patients with metastatic melanoma. Genetic analysis of the isolated melanoma CTCs was then performed for BRAF mutation status.
The adenoviral vector was effective for all melanoma cell lines tested with sensitivity of 88.7% (95%CI 85.6-90.4%) and specificity of 99.9% (95%CI 99.8-99.9%). In a pilot trial of patients with metastatic disease, CTCs were identified in 9 of 10 patients, with a mean of 6.0 CTCs/mL. At a cutoff of 1.1 CTCs/mL, the telomerase-based assay exhibits test performance of 90.0% sensitivity and 91.7% specificity. BRAF mutation analysis of melanoma cells isolated from culture or spiked control blood, or from pilot patient samples was found to match the known BRAF mutation status of the cell lines and primary tumors.
To our knowledge, this is the first report of a telomerase-based assay effective for detecting and isolating live melanoma CTCs. These promising findings support further studies, including towards integrating into the management of patients with melanoma receiving multimodality therapy.
PLoS ONE 03/2015; 10(3):e0123376. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0123376 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Immune checkpoint inhibitors result in impressive clinical responses, but optimal results will require combination with each other and other therapies. This raises fundamental questions about mechanisms of non-redundancy and resistance. Here we report major tumour regressions in a subset of patients with metastatic melanoma treated with an anti-CTLA4 antibody (anti-CTLA4) and radiation, and reproduced this effect in mouse models. Although combined treatment improved responses in irradiated and unirradiated tumours, resistance was common. Unbiased analyses of mice revealed that resistance was due to upregulation of PD-L1 on melanoma cells and associated with T-cell exhaustion. Accordingly, optimal response in melanoma and other cancer types requires radiation, anti-CTLA4 and anti-PD-L1/PD-1. Anti-CTLA4 predominantly inhibits T-regulatory cells (Treg cells), thereby increasing the CD8 T-cell to Treg (CD8/Treg) ratio. Radiation enhances the diversity of the T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire of intratumoral T cells. Together, anti-CTLA4 promotes expansion of T cells, while radiation shapes the TCR repertoire of the expanded peripheral clones. Addition of PD-L1 blockade reverses T-cell exhaustion to mitigate depression in the CD8/Treg ratio and further encourages oligoclonal T-cell expansion. Similarly to results from mice, patients on our clinical trial with melanoma showing high PD-L1 did not respond to radiation plus anti-CTLA4, demonstrated persistent T-cell exhaustion, and rapidly progressed. Thus, PD-L1 on melanoma cells allows tumours to escape anti-CTLA4-based therapy, and the combination of radiation, anti-CTLA4 and anti-PD-L1 promotes response and immunity through distinct mechanisms.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Direct reprogramming provides a fundamentally new approach for the generation of patient-specific cells. Here, by screening a pool of candidate transcription factors, we identify that a combination of the three factors, MITF, SOX10 and PAX3, directly converts mouse and human fibroblasts to functional melanocytes. Induced melanocytes (iMels) activate melanocyte-specific networks, express components of pigment production and delivery system and produce melanosomes. Human iMels properly integrate into the dermal-epidermal junction and produce and deliver melanin pigment to surrounding keratinocytes in a 3D organotypic skin reconstruct. Human iMels generate pigmented epidermis and hair follicles in skin reconstitution assays in vivo. The generation of iMels has important implications for studies of melanocyte lineage commitment, pigmentation disorders and cell replacement therapies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over-expression of the HER2/neu receptor occurs in 20 to 30 percent of breast tumors and is linked to poorer prognosis. The HER2/neu expression status determines whether or not patient will receive trastuzumab-based treatment. In clinical practice, over-expression of HER2/neu is routinely identified using Immunohistochemistry (IHC) or Fluorescence in Situ Hybridization (FISH), both of which are invasive approaches requiring tissue samples. Serum assays for the Extra Cellular Domain of HER2/neu receptor (HER2 ECD) have been reported but the use is very limited due to serum interference factors (e.g. human anti-animal immunoglobulin antibodies) that lead to false test results and inconsistency with tissue Her2 status. We have developed an ELISA based approach using an MBB buffer to eliminate false results and to obtain more accurate assessment of HER2 ECD levels. Using this refined assay we retroactively measured HER2/neu levels from breast cancer patients and controls. Abnormal HER2 ECD levels were detected in about 32% of invasive breast cancer patients but not in controls or patients with benign diseases. In addition, we also showed that patients with elevated serum HER2 levels appeared to have worse survival regardless of treatments. In a small group of 12 Ductal Carcinoma in situ (DCIS) patients who received HER2/neu peptide vaccination and surgery, only one patient showed constantly rising HER2 levels after treatment and this patient had recurrence of HER2 positive tumor within 5 years. Our studies indicate that once the serum interference issue is resolved, serum HER2 ECD can have potential clinical utility to supplement the tissue based tests.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Macroautophagy, a catabolic process of cellular self-digestion, is an important tumor cell survival mechanism and a potential target in antineoplastic therapies. Recent discoveries have implicated autophagy in the cellular secretory process, but potential roles of autophagy-mediated secretion in modifying the tumor microenvironment are poorly understood. Furthermore, efforts to inhibit autophagy in clinical trials have been hampered by suboptimal methods to quantitatively measure tumor autophagy levels. Here, we leveraged the autophagy-based involvement in cellular secretion to identify shed proteins associated with autophagy levels in melanoma. The secretome of low-autophagy WM793 melanoma cells was compared to its highly autophagic metastatic derivative, 1205Lu in physiological 3-dimensional cell culture using quantitative proteomics. These comparisons identified candidate autophagy biomarkers IL1B (interleukin 1, beta), CXCL8 (chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 8), LIF (leukemia inhibitory factor), FAM3C (family with sequence similarity 3, member C), and DKK3 (dickkopf WNT signaling pathway inhibitor 3) with known roles in inflammation and tumorigenesis, and these proteins were subsequently shown to be elevated in supernatants of an independent panel of high-autophagy melanoma cell lines. Secretion levels of these proteins increased when low-autophagy melanoma cells were treated with the autophagy-inducing tat-BECN1 (Beclin 1) peptide and decreased when ATG7 (autophagy-related 7) was silenced in high-autophagy cells, thereby supporting a mechanistic link between these secreted proteins and autophagy. In addition, serum from metastatic melanoma patients with high tumor autophagy levels exhibited higher levels of these proteins than serum from patients with low-autophagy tumors. These results suggest that autophagy-related secretion affects the tumor microenvironment and measurement of autophagy-associated secreted proteins in plasma and possibly in tumors can serve as surrogates for intracellular autophagy dynamics in tumor cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have previously shown that Wnt5A drives invasion in melanoma. We have also shown that Wnt5A promotes resistance to therapy designed to target the BRAFV600E mutation in melanoma. Here, we show that melanomas characterized by high levels of Wnt5A respond to therapeutic stress by increasing p21 and expressing classical markers of senescence, including positivity for senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-gal), senescence associated heterochromatic foci (SAHF), H3K9Me chromatin marks, and PML bodies. We find that despite this, these cells retain their ability to migrate and invade. Further, despite the expression of classic markers of senescence like SA-β-gal and SAHF, these Wnt5A-high cells are able to colonize the lungs in in vivo tail-vein colony forming assays. This clearly underscores the fact that these markers do not indicate true senescence in these cells, but instead an adaptive stress response that allows the cells to evade therapy and invade. Notably, silencing Wnt5A reduces expression of these markers and decreases invasiveness. The combined data point to Wnt5A as a master regulator of an adaptive stress response in melanoma, which may contribute to therapy resistance.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Predicting clinical behavior of atypical Spitz tumors remains problematic. In this study, we assessed interobserver agreement of diagnosis by 13 expert dermatopathologists for atypical Spitz tumors (n=75). We determined which histomorphologic features were most heavily weighted for their diagnostic significance by the experts and also which histomorphologic features had a statistically significant correlation with clinical outcome. There was a low interobserver agreement among the experts in categorizing lesions as malignant versus nonmalignant (κ=0.30). The histomorphologic features that were given the most diagnostic significance by the experts were: consumption of the epidermis, atypical mitoses, high-grade cytologic atypia, and mitotic rate. Conversely, the histomorphologic features that most correlated with disease progression were: frequent mitoses, deep mitoses, asymmetry, high-grade cytologic atypia, and ulceration. The presence and/or pattern of pagetoid spread, consumption of the epidermis, and lymphoid aggregates demonstrated no association with clinical behavior. The results support the assertion that there is a lack of consensus in the assessment of atypical Spitz tumors by expert dermatopathologists. Importantly, many features used to distinguish conventional melanoma from nevi were not useful in predicting the behavior of atypical Spitz tumors. This study may provide some guidance regarding histologic assessment of these enigmatic tumors.
The American journal of surgical pathology 03/2014; 38(7). DOI:10.1097/PAS.0000000000000198 · 5.15 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Melanomas that result from mutations in the gene encoding BRAF often become resistant to BRAF inhibition (BRAFi), with multiple mechanisms contributing to resistance. While therapy-induced autophagy promotes resistance to a number of therapies, especially those that target PI3K/mTOR signaling, its role as an adaptive resistance mechanism to BRAFi is not well characterized. Using tumor biopsies from BRAFV600E melanoma patients treated either with BRAFi or with combined BRAF and MEK inhibition, we found that BRAFi-resistant tumors had increased levels of autophagy compared with baseline. Patients with higher levels of therapy-induced autophagy had drastically lower response rates to BRAFi and a shorter duration of progression-free survival. In BRAFV600E melanoma cell lines, BRAFi or BRAF/MEK inhibition induced cytoprotective autophagy, and autophagy inhibition enhanced BRAFi-induced cell death. Shortly after BRAF inhibitor treatment in melanoma cell lines, mutant BRAF bound the ER stress gatekeeper GRP78, which rapidly expanded the ER. Disassociation of GRP78 from the PKR-like ER-kinase (PERK) promoted a PERK-dependent ER stress response that subsequently activated cytoprotective autophagy. Combined BRAF and autophagy inhibition promoted tumor regression in BRAFi-resistant xenografts. These data identify a molecular pathway for drug resistance connecting BRAFi, the ER stress response, and autophagy and provide a rationale for combination approaches targeting this resistance pathway.
The Journal of clinical investigation 02/2014; 124(3). DOI:10.1172/JCI70454 · 13.22 Impact Factor