[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a cancer characterized by features of skeletal muscle histogenesis, is the most common soft tissue sarcoma of childhood and adolescence. Survival for high-risk groups is less than 30% at 5 years. RMS also occurs during adulthood, with a lower incidence but higher mortality. Recently, mutational profiling has revealed a correlation between activating Ras mutations in the embryonal (eRMS) and pleomorphic (pRMS) histologic variants of RMS, and a poorer outcome for those patients. Independently, the YAP transcriptional coactivator, an oncoprotein kept in check by the Hippo tumor suppressor pathway, is upregulated in eRMS. Here we show that YAP promotes cell proliferation and antagonizes apoptosis and myogenic differentiation of human RMS cells bearing oncogenic Ras mutations in cell culture studies in vitro and in murine xenografts in vivo. Pharmacologic inhibition of YAP by the benzoporphyrin derivative verteporfin decreased cell proliferation and tumor growth in vivo. To interrogate the temporal contribution of YAP in eRMS tumorigenesis, we used a primary human cell-based genetic model of Ras-driven RMS. Constitutively active YAP functioned as an early genetic lesion, permitting bypass of senescence and priming myoblasts to tolerate subsequent expression of hTERT and oncogenic Ras, which were necessary and sufficient to generate murine xenograft tumors mimicking RMS in vivo. This work provides evidence for cooperation between YAP and oncogenic Ras in RMS tumorigenesis, laying the foundation for preclinical co-targeting of these pathways.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Hippo signaling pathway is an evolutionarily conserved developmental network vital for the regulation of organ size, tissue homeostasis, repair and regeneration, and cell fate. The Hippo pathway has also been shown to have tumor suppressor properties. Hippo transduction involves a series of kinases and scaffolding proteins that are intricately connected to proteins in developmental cascades and in the tissue microenvironment. This network governs the downstream Hippo transcriptional co-activators, YAP and TAZ, which bind to and activate the output of TEADs, as well as other transcription factors responsible for cellular proliferation, self-renewal, differentiation, and survival. Surprisingly, there are few oncogenic mutations within the core components of the Hippo pathway. Instead, dysregulated Hippo signaling is a versatile accomplice to commonly mutated cancer pathways. For example, YAP and TAZ can be activated by oncogenic signaling from other pathways, or serve as co-activators for classical oncogenes. Emerging evidence suggests that Hippo signaling couples cell density and cytoskeletal structural changes to morphogenic signals and conveys a mesenchymal phenotype. While much of Hippo biology has been described in epithelial cell systems, it is clear that dysregulated Hippo signaling also contributes to malignancies of mesenchymal origin. This review will summarize the known molecular alterations within the Hippo pathway in sarcomas and highlight how several pharmacologic compounds have shown activity in modulating Hippo components, providing proof-of-principle that Hippo signaling may be harnessed for therapeutic application in sarcomas.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Frontiers in Oncology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Notch signaling pathway is an evolutionarily conserved developmental network critical for embryonic and postnatal regulation of tissue growth, homeostasis, and repair. Signaling is initiated when transmembrane Notch ligands bind to transmembrane Notch receptors on nearby cells. Sequential proteolytic steps generate an activated Notch fragment that translocates to the nucleus, where it drives activation of canonical Notch target genes. In skeletal muscle, Notch signaling governs myogenic cell fate and stem cell maintenance. In the human soft tissue sarcoma rhabdomyosarcoma, which bears markers of skeletal muscle commitment and so is thought to be related to the skeletal muscle lineage, Notch signaling is also found to be upregulated and dysregulated. This review provides an overview of Notch signaling during normal embryonic and postnatal myogenesis, information on the recently discovered aberrant Notch signaling occurring in muscular dystrophies, the upregulation and mechanism of Notch signaling in the embryonal variant of rhabdomyosarcoma and related soft tissue sarcomas, and Notch cross-talk with other metazoan developmental pathways including Hippo, Hedgehog, Wnt, and TGF-β. The review concludes with updates on current promising efforts to target and inhibit Notch signaling in human sarcomas including rhabdomyosarcoma.
No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Current drug targets
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) represents a rare, heterogeneous group of mesodermal malignancies
with skeletal muscle differentiation. One major subgroup of RMS tumors (so-called
“fusion-positive” tumors) carries exclusive chromosomal translocations that join the DNAbinding
domain of the PAX3 or PAX7 gene to the transactivation domain of the FOXO1
(previously known as FKHR) gene. Fusion-negative RMS represents a heterogeneous spectrum
of tumors with frequent RAS pathway activation. Overtly metastatic disease at diagnosis
is more frequently found in individuals with fusion-positive than in those with fusion-negative
tumors. RMS is the most common pediatric soft-tissue sarcoma, and approximately
60% of all children and adolescents diagnosed with RMS are cured by currently available
multimodal therapies. However, a curative outcome is achieved in ,30% of high-risk individuals
with RMS, including all those diagnosed as adults, those diagnosed with fusionpositive
tumors during childhood (including metastatic and nonmetastatic tumors), and
those diagnosed with metastatic disease during childhood (including fusion-positive
and fusion-negative tumors). This white paper outlines current challenges in RMS research
and their implications for developing more effective therapies. Urgent clinical problems
include local control, systemic disease, need for improved risk stratification, and characterization
of differences in disease course in children and adults. Biological challenges include
definition of the cellular functions of PAX-FOXO1 fusion proteins, clarification of disease
heterogeneity, elucidation of the cellular origins of RMS, delineation of the tumor microenvironment,
and identification of means for rational selection and testing of new combination
therapies. To streamline future therapeutic developments, it will be critical to improve access
to fresh tumor tissue for research purposes, consider alternative trial designs to optimize early
clinical testing of candidate drugs, coalesce advocacy efforts to garner public and industry
support, and facilitate collaborative efforts between academia and industry.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Asparaginase is a chemotherapeutic agent used to induce disease remission in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We describe the cases of two females with ALL who developed pseudohyponatremia as a presentation of hypertriglyceridemia following asparaginase treatment. Nine similar published cases of asparaginase-induced hypertriglyceridemia and its complications are also discussed. Possible mechanisms of action include inhibition of lipoprotein lipase, decreased hepatic synthesis of lipoprotein, and increased synthesis of VLDL. Effects of asparaginase-induced hypertriglyceridemia range from asymptomatic to transaminasemia, pancreatitis, and life-threatening thrombosis or hyperviscosity syndrome. All cases of hypertriglyceridemia described resolved following cessation of asparaginase treatment ± further treatments.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (aRMS) is an aggressive sarcoma of skeletal muscle characterized by expression of the paired box 3-forkhead box protein O1 (PAX3-FOXO1) fusion oncogene. Despite its discovery nearly two decades ago, the mechanisms by which PAX3-FOXO1 drives tumor development are not well characterized. Previously, we reported that PAX3-FOXO1 supports aRMS initiation by enabling bypass of cellular senescence checkpoints. We have now found that this bypass occurs in part through PAX3-FOXO1-mediated upregulation of RASSF4, a Ras-association domain family (RASSF) member. RASSF4 expression was upregulated in PAX3-FOXO1-positive aRMS cell lines and tumors. Enhanced RASSF4 expression promoted cell cycle progression, senescence evasion, and tumorigenesis through inhibition of the Hippo pathway tumor suppressor MST1. We also found that the downstream Hippo pathway target Yes-associated protein 1 (YAP), which is ordinarily restrained by Hippo signaling, was upregulated in RMS tumors. These data suggest that Hippo pathway dysfunction promotes RMS. This work provides evidence for Hippo pathway suppression in aRMS and demonstrates a progrowth role for RASSF4. Additionally, we identify a mechanism used by PAX3-FOXO1 to inhibit MST1 signaling and promote tumorigenesis in aRMS.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · The Journal of clinical investigation
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The 5-year survival for localized rhabdomyosarcoma is over 70%, but only 30% for patients presenting with metastatic disease. In this issue of Cancer Cell, Chen and colleagues performed whole-genome and RNA sequencing on human rhabdomyosarcoma and identified RAS mutations and oxidative stress as potential therapeutic targets for high-risk embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children, whereas undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS) is one of the most common soft tissue sarcomas diagnosed in adults. To investigate the myogenic cell(s) of origin of these sarcomas, we used Pax7-CreER and MyoD-CreER mice to transform Pax7(+) and MyoD(+) myogenic progenitors by expressing oncogenic Kras(G12D) and deleting Trp53 in vivo. Pax7-CreER mice developed RMS and UPS, whereas MyoD-CreER mice developed UPS. Using gene set enrichment analysis, RMS and UPS each clustered specifically within their human counterparts. These results suggest that RMS and UPS have distinct and overlapping cells of origin within the muscle lineage. Taking them together, we have established mouse models of soft tissue sarcoma from muscle stem and progenitor cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common soft tissue sarcoma of childhood and adolescence. Despite intergroup clinical trials conducted in Europe and North America, outcomes for high risk patients with this disease have not significantly improved in the last several decades, and survival of metastatic or relapsed disease remains extremely poor. Accrual into new clinical trials is slow and difficult, so in vitro cell-line research and in vivo xenograft models present an attractive alternative for preclinical research for this cancer type. Currently, 30 commonly used human RMS cell lines exist, with differing origins, karyotypes, histologies, and methods of validation. Selecting an appropriate cell line for RMS research has important implications for outcomes. There are also potential pitfalls in using certain cell lines including contamination with murine stromal cells, cross-contamination between cell lines, discordance between the cell line and its associated original tumor, imposter cell lines, and nomenclature errors that result in the circulation of two or more presumed unique cell lines that are actually from the same origin. These pitfalls can be avoided by testing for species-specific isoenzymes, microarray analysis, assays for subtype-specific fusion products, and short tandem repeat analysis.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Frontiers in Oncology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Specificity protein (Sp) transcription factors Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 are highly expressed in rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) cells. In tissue arrays of RMS tumor cores from 71 patients, 80% of RMS patients expressed high levels of Sp1 protein, whereas low expression of Sp1 was detected in normal muscle tissue. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) tolfenamic acid (TA) inhibited growth and migration of RD and RH30 RMS cell lines and also inhibited tumor growth in vivo using a mouse xenograft (RH30 cells) model. The effects of TA were accompanied by downregulation of Sp1, Sp3, Sp4 and Sp-regulated genes in RMS cells and tumors, and the role of Sp protein downregulation in mediating inhibition of RD and RH30 cell growth and migration was confirmed by individual and combined knockdown of Sp1, Sp3 and Sp4 proteins by RNA interference. TA treatment and Sp knockdown in RD and RH30 cells also showed that four genes that are emerging as individual drug targets for treating RMS, namely c-MET, insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGFR), PDGFRα and CXCR4, are also Sp-regulated genes. These results suggest that NSAIDs such as TA may have potential clinical efficacy in drug combinations for treating RMS patients.
No preview · Article · Feb 2013 · International Journal of Cancer
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a malignancy with features of skeletal muscle, and the most common soft tissue sarcoma of childhood. Survival for high-risk groups is approximately 30% at 5 years and there are no durable therapies tailored to its genetic aberrations. During genetic modeling of the common RMS variants, embryonal RMS (eRMS) and alveolar RMS (aRMS), we noted that the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 (FGFR4) was upregulated as an early event in aRMS. Herein, we evaluated the expression of FGFR4 in eRMS compared with aRMS, and whether FGFR4 had similar or distinct roles in their tumorigenesis.
Human RMS cell lines and tumor tissue were analyzed for FGFR4 expression by immunoblot and immunohistochemistry. Genetic and pharmacologic loss-of-function of FGFR4 using virally transduced short hairpin RNA (shRNA) and the FGFR small-molecule inhibitor PD173074, respectively, were used to study the role of FGFR4 in RMS cell lines in vitro and xenografts in vivo. Expression of the antiapoptotic protein BCL2L1 was also examined.
FGFR4 is expressed in both RMS subtypes, but protein expression is higher in aRMS. The signature aRMS gene fusion product, PAX3-FOXO1, induced FGFR4 expression in primary human myoblasts. In eRMS, FGFR4 loss-of-function reduced cell proliferation in vitro and xenograft formation in vivo. In aRMS, it diminished cell survival in vitro. In myoblasts and aRMS, FGFR4 was necessary and sufficient for expression of BCL2L1 whereas in eRMS, this induction was not observed, suggesting differential FGFR4 signaling.
These studies define dichotomous roles for FGFR4 in RMS subtypes, and support further study of FGFR4 as a therapeutic target.
Full-text · Article · May 2012 · Clinical Cancer Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS) is an aggressive pediatric sarcoma of muscle. Here, we show that ERMS-propagating potential is confined to myf5+ cells and can be visualized in live, fluorescent transgenic zebrafish. During early tumor growth, myf5+ ERMS cells reside adjacent normal muscle fibers. By late-stage ERMS, myf5+ cells are reorganized into distinct regions separated from differentiated tumor cells. Time-lapse imaging of late-stage ERMS revealed that myf5+ cells populate newly formed tumor only after seeding by highly migratory myogenin+ ERMS cells. Moreover, myogenin+ ERMS cells can enter the vasculature, whereas myf5+ ERMS-propagating cells do not. Our data suggest that non-tumor-propagating cells likely have important supportive roles in cancer progression and facilitate metastasis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common soft tissue sarcoma of childhood and adolescence, accounting for approximately 7% of childhood cancers. Current therapies include nonspecific cytotoxic chemotherapy regimens, radiation therapy, and surgery; however, these multimodality strategies are unsuccessful in the majority of patients with high-risk disease. It is generally believed that these tumors represent arrested or aberrant skeletal muscle development, and, accordingly, developmental signaling pathways critical to myogenesis such as Notch, WNT, and Hedgehog may represent new therapeutic targets. In this paper, we summarize the current preclinical studies linking these embryonic pathways to rhabdomyosarcoma tumorigenesis and provide support for the investigation of targeted therapies in this embryonic cancer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common soft tissue sarcoma of childhood and remains refractory to combined-modality therapy in patients with high risk disease. In skeletal myogenesis, Notch signaling prevents muscle differentiation and promotes proliferation of satellite cell progeny. Given its physiologic role in myogenesis and oncogenic role in other human cancers, we hypothesized that aberrant Notch signaling may contribute to RMS tumorigenesis and present novel therapeutic opportunities.
Human RMS cell lines and tumors were evaluated by immunoblot, IHC, and RT-PCR to measure Notch ligand, receptor, and target gene expression. Manipulation of Notch signaling was accomplished using genetic and pharmacologic approaches. In vitro cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation were assessed using colorimetric MTT and BrdU assays, and biochemical/morphologic changes after incubation in differentiation-promoting media, respectively. In vivo tumorigenesis was assessed using xenograft formation in SCID/beige mice.
Notch signaling is upregulated in human RMS cell lines and tumors compared with primary skeletal muscle, especially in the embryonal (eRMS) subtype. Inhibition of Notch signaling using Notch1 RNAi or γ-secretase inhibitors reduced eRMS cell proliferation in vitro. Hey1 RNAi phenocopied Notch1 loss and permitted modest myogenic differentiation, while overexpression of an activated Notch moiety, ICN1, promoted eRMS cell proliferation and rescued pharmacologic inhibition. Finally, Notch inhibition using RNAi or γ-secretase inhibitors blocked tumorigenesis in vivo.
Aberrant Notch-Hey1 signaling contributes to eRMS by impeding differentiation and promoting proliferation. The efficacy of Notch pathway inhibition in vivo supports the development of Notch-Hey1 axis inhibitors in the treatment of eRMS.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2011 · Clinical Cancer Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To evaluate the outcome of children with rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) of the hand or foot treated with surgery and/or local radiotherapy (RT).
Forty-eight patients with nonmetastatic RMS of the hand or foot were enrolled on Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study III, IV-Pilot, and IV. Patients received multiagent chemotherapy with surgery and/or RT. Twenty-four patients (50%) underwent surgery without local RT, of whom 4 had complete resection and 20 had an amputation. The remaining 24 patients (50%) underwent local RT, of whom 2 required RT for microscopic residual disease after prior amputation. Median follow-up for surviving patients was 9.7 years.
Actuarial 10-year local control was 100%; 10-year event-free survival and overall survival rates were 62% and 63%, respectively. Poor prognostic factors for recurrence included gross residual (Group III) disease and nodal involvement (p = 0.01 and 0.05, respectively). More patients in the RT group had alveolar histology, Group III disease, and nodal involvement, as compared with the surgery group. There was no difference in 10-year event-free survival (57% vs. 66%) or overall survival (63% vs. 63%) between patients who underwent surgery or local RT. Among relapsing patients, there were no long-term survivors. No secondary malignancies have been observed.
Despite having high-risk features, patients treated with local RT achieved excellent local control. Complete surgical resection without amputation is difficult to achieve in the hand or foot. Therefore, we recommend either definitive RT or surgical resection that maintains form and function as primary local therapy rather than amputation in patients with hand or foot RMS.
Full-text · Article · May 2011 · International journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics