Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology - Research Publications

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    Cystathionine-beta-synthase is essential for AKT-induced senescence and suppresses the development of gastric cancers with PI3K/AKT activation
    Zhu, H ; Chan, KT ; Huang, X ; Cerra, C ; Blake, S ; Trigos, AS ; Anderson, D ; Creek, DJ ; De Souza, DP ; Wang, X ; Fu, C ; Jana, M ; Sanij, E ; Pearson, RB ; Kang, J (eLIFE SCIENCES PUBL LTD, 2022-06-27)
    Hyperactivation of oncogenic pathways downstream of RAS and PI3K/AKT in normal cells induces a senescence-like phenotype that acts as a tumor-suppressive mechanism that must be overcome during transformation. We previously demonstrated that AKT-induced senescence (AIS) is associated with profound transcriptional and metabolic changes. Here, we demonstrate that human fibroblasts undergoing AIS display upregulated cystathionine-β-synthase (CBS) expression and enhanced uptake of exogenous cysteine, which lead to increased hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and glutathione (GSH) production, consequently protecting senescent cells from oxidative stress-induced cell death. CBS depletion allows AIS cells to escape senescence and re-enter the cell cycle, indicating the importance of CBS activity in maintaining AIS. Mechanistically, we show this restoration of proliferation is mediated through suppressing mitochondrial respiration and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production by reducing mitochondrial localized CBS while retaining antioxidant capacity of transsulfuration pathway. These findings implicate a potential tumor-suppressive role for CBS in cells with aberrant PI3K/AKT pathway activation. Consistent with this concept, in human gastric cancer cells with activated PI3K/AKT signaling, we demonstrate that CBS expression is suppressed due to promoter hypermethylation. CBS loss cooperates with activated PI3K/AKT signaling in promoting anchorage-independent growth of gastric epithelial cells, while CBS restoration suppresses the growth of gastric tumors in vivo. Taken together, we find that CBS is a novel regulator of AIS and a potential tumor suppressor in PI3K/AKT-driven gastric cancers, providing a new exploitable metabolic vulnerability in these cancers.
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    Adaptive translational reprogramming of metabolism limits the response to targeted therapy in BRAF(V600) melanoma
    Smith, LK ; Parmenter, T ; Kleinschmidt, M ; Kusnadi, EP ; Kang, J ; Martin, CA ; Lau, P ; Patel, R ; Lorent, J ; Papadopoli, D ; Trigos, A ; Ward, T ; Rao, AD ; Lelliott, EJ ; Sheppard, KE ; Goode, D ; Hicks, RJ ; Tiganis, T ; Simpson, KJ ; Larsson, O ; Blythe, B ; Cullinane, C ; Wickramasinghe, VO ; Pearson, RB ; McArthur, GA (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2022-03-01)
    Despite the success of therapies targeting oncogenes in cancer, clinical outcomes are limited by residual disease that ultimately results in relapse. This residual disease is often characterized by non-genetic adaptive resistance, that in melanoma is characterised by altered metabolism. Here, we examine how targeted therapy reprograms metabolism in BRAF-mutant melanoma cells using a genome-wide RNA interference (RNAi) screen and global gene expression profiling. Using this systematic approach we demonstrate post-transcriptional regulation of metabolism following BRAF inhibition, involving selective mRNA transport and translation. As proof of concept we demonstrate the RNA processing kinase U2AF homology motif kinase 1 (UHMK1) associates with mRNAs encoding metabolism proteins and selectively controls their transport and translation during adaptation to BRAF-targeted therapy. UHMK1 inactivation induces cell death by disrupting therapy induced metabolic reprogramming, and importantly, delays resistance to BRAF and MEK combination therapy in multiple in vivo models. We propose selective mRNA processing and translation by UHMK1 constitutes a mechanism of non-genetic resistance to targeted therapy in melanoma by controlling metabolic plasticity induced by therapy.
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    Collateral Sensitivity to beta-Lactam Drugs in Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Is Driven by the Transcriptional Wiring of BlaI Operon Genes
    Trigos, AS ; Goudey, BW ; Bedo, J ; Conway, TC ; Faux, NG ; Wyres, KL ; Fey, PD (AMER SOC MICROBIOLOGY, 2021-05-01)
    The evolution of resistance to one antimicrobial can result in enhanced sensitivity to another, known as "collateral sensitivity." This underexplored phenomenon opens new therapeutic possibilities for patients infected with pathogens unresponsive to classical treatments. Intrinsic resistance to β-lactams in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the causative agent of tuberculosis) has traditionally curtailed the use of these low-cost and easy-to-administer drugs for tuberculosis treatment. Recently, β-lactam sensitivity has been reported in strains resistant to classical tuberculosis therapy, resurging the interest in β-lactams for tuberculosis. However, a lack of understanding of the molecular underpinnings of this sensitivity has delayed exploration in the clinic. We performed gene expression and network analyses and in silico knockout simulations of genes associated with β-lactam sensitivity and genes associated with resistance to classical tuberculosis drugs to investigate regulatory interactions and identify key gene mediators. We found activation of the key inhibitor of β-lactam resistance, blaI, following classical drug treatment as well as transcriptional links between genes associated with β-lactam sensitivity and those associated with resistance to classical treatment, suggesting that regulatory links might explain collateral sensitivity to β-lactams. Our results support M. tuberculosis β-lactam sensitivity as a collateral consequence of the evolution of resistance to classical tuberculosis drugs, mediated through changes to transcriptional regulation. These findings support continued exploration of β-lactams for the treatment of patients infected with tuberculosis strains resistant to classical therapies. IMPORTANCE Tuberculosis remains a significant cause of global mortality, with strains resistant to classical drug treatment considered a major health concern by the World Health Organization. Challenging treatment regimens and difficulty accessing drugs in low-income communities have led to a high prevalence of strains resistant to multiple drugs, making the development of alternative therapies a priority. Although Mycobacterium tuberculosis is naturally resistant to β-lactam drugs, previous studies have shown sensitivity in strains resistant to classical drug treatment, but we currently lack understanding of the molecular underpinnings behind this phenomenon. We found that genes involved in β-lactam susceptibility are activated after classical drug treatment resulting from tight regulatory links with genes involved in drug resistance. Our study supports the hypothesis that β-lactam susceptibility observed in drug-resistant strains results from the underlying regulatory network of M. tuberculosis, supporting further exploration of the use of β-lactams for tuberculosis treatment.
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    A TOOLKIT FOR THE QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE SPATIAL DISTRIBUTION OF CELLS OF THE TUMOR IMMUNE MICROENVIRONMENT
    Trigos, A ; Yang, T ; Feng, Y ; Ozcoban, V ; Doyle, M ; Pasam, A ; Kocovski, N ; Pizzolla, A ; Huang, Y-K ; Bass, G ; Keam, S ; Speed, T ; Neeson, P ; Sandhu, S ; Goode, D (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-11-01)
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    Inhibition of RNA polymerase I transcription activates targeted DNA damage response and enhances the efficacy of PARP inhibitors in high-grade serous ovarian cancer.
    Sanij, E ; Hannan, K ; Xuan, J ; Yan, S ; Ahern, JA ; Trigos, AS ; Brajanovski, N ; Son, J ; Chan, KT ; Kondrashova, O ; Lieschke, E ; Wakefield, MJ ; Ellis, S ; Cullinane, C ; Poortinga, G ; Khanna, KK ; Mileshkin, L ; McArthur, GA ; Soong, J ; Berns, EM ; Hannan, RD ; Scott, CL ; Sheppard, KE ; Pearson, RB (AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH, 2020-07-01)
    Abstract Introduction: PARP inhibitors (PARPi) have revolutionized disease management of patients with homologous recombination (HR) DNA repair-deficient high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC). However, acquired resistance to PARPi is a major challenge in the clinic. The specific inhibitor of RNA polymerase I (Pol I) transcription of ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA) has demonstrated single-agent antitumor activity in p53 wild-type and p53-mutant hematologic malignancies (first-in-human trial, dose escalation study of CX-5461 at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre) (Khot et al., Cancer Discov 2019). CX-5461 has also been reported to exhibit synthetic lethality with BRCA1/2 deficiency through stabilization of G-quadruplex DNA (GQ) structures. Here, we investigate the efficacy of CX-5461 in treating HGSOC. Experimental Design: The mechanisms by which CX-5461 induces DNA damage response (DDR) and displays synthetic lethality in HR-deficient HGSOC cells are explored. We present in vivo data of mice bearing two functionally and genomically profiled HGSOC-patient-derived xenograft (PDX)s treated with CX-5461 and olaparib, alone and in combination. We also investigate CX-5461-sensitivity gene expression signatures in primary and relapsed HGSOC. Results: Utilizing ovarian cancer cell lines, we demonstrate that sensitivity to CX-5461 is associated with “BRCA1 mutation” and “MYC targets” gene expression signatures. In addition, sensitivity to CX-5461 is associated with high basal rates of Pol I transcription. Importantly, we demonstrate a novel mechanism for CX-5461 synthetic lethal interaction with HR deficiency mediated through the induction of replication stress at rDNA repeats. Our data reveal CX-5461-mediated DDR in HR-deficient cells does not involve stabilization of GQ structures as previously proposed. On the contrary, we show definitively that CX-5461 inhibits Pol I recruitment leading to rDNA chromatin defects including stabilization of R-loops, single-stranded DNA, and replication stress at the rDNA. Mechanistically, we demonstrate CX-5461 leads to replication-dependent DNA damage involving MRE11-dependent degradation of replication forks. Importantly, CX-5461 has a different sensitivity spectrum to olaparib and cooperates with PARPi in exacerbating replication stress, leading to enhanced therapeutic efficacy in HR-deficient HGSOC-PDX in vivo compared to single-agent treatment of both drugs. Further, CX-5461 exhibits single-agent efficacy in olaparib-resistant HGSOC-PDX overcoming PARPi-resistance mechanisms involving fork protection. Importantly, we identify CX-5461-sensitivity gene expression signatures in primary and relapsed HGSOC. Conclusions: CX-5461 is a promising therapy alone and in combination therapy with PARPi in HR-deficient HGSOC. CX-5461 also has exciting potential as a treatment option for patients with relapsed HGSOC tumors that have high MYC activity and poor clinical outcome; these patients currently have very limited effective treatment options. This abstract is also being presented as Poster A71. Citation Format: Elaine Sanij, Katherine Hannan, Jiachen Xuan, Shunfei Yan, Jessica A. Ahern, Anna S. Trigos, Natalie Brajanovski, Jinbae Son, Keefe T. Chan, Olga Kondrashova, Elizabeth Lieschke, Matthew J. Wakefield, Sarah Ellis, Carleen Cullinane, Gretchen Poortinga, Kum Kum Khanna, Linda Mileshkin, Grant A. McArthur, John Soong, Els M. Berns, Ross D. Hannan, Clare L. Scott, Karen E. Sheppard, Richard B. Pearson. Inhibition of RNA polymerase I transcription activates targeted DNA damage response and enhances the efficacy of PARP inhibitors in high-grade serous ovarian cancer [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Special Conference on Advances in Ovarian Cancer Research; 2019 Sep 13-16, 2019; Atlanta, GA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Clin Cancer Res 2020;26(13_Suppl):Abstract nr PR13.
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    ReprogrammedmRNAtranslation drives resistance to therapeutic targeting of ribosome biogenesis
    Kusnadi, EP ; Trigos, AS ; Cullinane, C ; Goode, DL ; Larsson, O ; Devlin, JR ; Chan, KT ; De Souza, DP ; McConville, MJ ; McArthur, GA ; Thomas, G ; Sanij, E ; Poortinga, G ; Hannan, RD ; Hannan, KM ; Kang, J ; Pearson, RB (WILEY, 2020-09-18)
    Elevated ribosome biogenesis in oncogene-driven cancers is commonly targeted by DNA-damaging cytotoxic drugs. Our previous first-in-human trial of CX-5461, a novel, less genotoxic agent that specifically inhibits ribosome biogenesis via suppression of RNA polymerase I (Pol I) transcription, revealed single-agent efficacy in refractory blood cancers. Despite this clinical response, patients were not cured. In parallel, we demonstrated a marked improvement in the in vivo efficacy of CX-5461 in combination with PI3K/AKT/mTORC1 pathway inhibitors. Here, we reveal the molecular basis for this improved efficacy observed in vivo, which is associated with specific suppression of translation of mRNAs encoding regulators of cellular metabolism. Importantly, acquired resistance to this cotreatment is driven by translational rewiring that results in dysregulated cellular metabolism and induction of a cAMP-dependent pathway critical for the survival of blood cancers including lymphoma and acute myeloid leukemia. Our studies thus identify key molecular mechanisms underpinning the response of blood cancers to selective inhibition of ribosome biogenesis and define metabolic vulnerabilities that will facilitate the rational design of more effective regimens for Pol I-directed therapies.
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    CX-5461 activates the DNA damage response and demonstrates therapeutic efficacy in high-grade serous ovarian cancer
    Sanij, E ; Hannan, KM ; Xuan, J ; Yan, S ; Ahern, JE ; Trigos, AS ; Brajanovski, N ; Son, J ; Chan, KT ; Kondrashova, O ; Lieschke, E ; Wakefield, MJ ; Frank, D ; Ellis, S ; Cullinane, C ; Kang, J ; Poortinga, G ; Nag, P ; Deans, AJ ; Khanna, KK ; Mileshkin, L ; McArthur, GA ; Soong, J ; Berns, EMJJ ; Hannan, RD ; Scott, CL ; Sheppard, KE ; Pearson, RB (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-05-26)
    Acquired resistance to PARP inhibitors (PARPi) is a major challenge for the clinical management of high grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC). Here, we demonstrate CX-5461, the first-in-class inhibitor of RNA polymerase I transcription of ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA), induces replication stress and activates the DNA damage response. CX-5461 co-operates with PARPi in exacerbating replication stress and enhances therapeutic efficacy against homologous recombination (HR) DNA repair-deficient HGSOC-patient-derived xenograft (PDX) in vivo. We demonstrate CX-5461 has a different sensitivity spectrum to PARPi involving MRE11-dependent degradation of replication forks. Importantly, CX-5461 exhibits in vivo single agent efficacy in a HGSOC-PDX with reduced sensitivity to PARPi by overcoming replication fork protection. Further, we identify CX-5461-sensitivity gene expression signatures in primary and relapsed HGSOC. We propose CX-5461 is a promising therapy in combination with PARPi in HR-deficient HGSOC and also as a single agent for the treatment of relapsed disease.
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    A functional genetic screen defines the AKT-induced senescence signaling network
    Chan, KT ; Blake, S ; Zhu, H ; Kang, J ; Trigos, AS ; Madhamshettiwar, PB ; Diesch, J ; Paavolainen, L ; Horvath, P ; Hannan, RD ; George, AJ ; Sanij, E ; Hannan, KM ; Simpson, KJ ; Pearson, RB (Springer Nature, 2020-02)
    Exquisite regulation of PI3K/AKT/mTORC1 signaling is essential for homeostatic control of cell growth, proliferation, and survival. Aberrant activation of this signaling network is an early driver of many sporadic human cancers. Paradoxically, sustained hyperactivation of the PI3K/AKT/mTORC1 pathway in nontransformed cells results in cellular senescence, which is a tumor-suppressive mechanism that must be overcome to promote malignant transformation. While oncogene-induced senescence (OIS) driven by excessive RAS/ERK signaling has been well studied, little is known about the mechanisms underpinning the AKT-induced senescence (AIS) response. Here, we utilize a combination of transcriptome and metabolic profiling to identify key signatures required to maintain AIS. We also employ a whole protein-coding genome RNAi screen for AIS escape, validating a subset of novel mediators and demonstrating their preferential specificity for AIS as compared with OIS. As proof of concept of the potential to exploit the AIS network, we show that neurofibromin 1 (NF1) is upregulated during AIS and its ability to suppress RAS/ERK signaling facilitates AIS maintenance. Furthermore, depletion of NF1 enhances transformation of p53-mutant epithelial cells expressing activated AKT, while its overexpression blocks transformation by inducing a senescent-like phenotype. Together, our findings reveal novel mechanistic insights into the control of AIS and identify putative senescence regulators that can potentially be targeted, with implications for new therapeutic options to treat PI3K/AKT/mTORC1-driven cancers.