Centre for Cancer Research - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 23
Immune molecular profiling of a multiresistant primary prostate cancer with a neuroendocrine-like phenotype: a case report.
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-10-28)
BACKGROUND: Understanding the drivers of recurrence in aggressive prostate cancer requires detailed molecular and genomic understanding in order to aid therapeutic interventions. We provide here a case report of histological, transcriptional, proteomic, immunological, and genomic features in a longitudinal study of multiple biopsies from diagnosis, through treatment, and subsequent recurrence. CASE PRESENTATION: Here we present a case study of a male in 70 s with high-grade clinically-localised acinar adenocarcinoma treated with definitive hormone therapy and radiotherapy. The patient progressed rapidly with rising PSA and succumbed without metastasis 52 months after diagnosis. We identified the expression of canonical histological markers of neuroendocrine PC (NEPC) including synaptophysin, neuron-specific enolase and thyroid transcription factor 1, as well as intact AR expression, in the recurrent disease only. The resistant disease was also marked by an extremely low immune infiltrate, extensive genomic chromosomal aberrations, and overactivity in molecular hallmarks of NEPC disease including Aurora kinase and E2F, as well as novel alterations in the cMYB pathway. We also observed that responses to both primary treatments (high dose-rate brachytherapy and androgen deprivation therapies) were consistent with known optimal responses-ruling out treatment inefficacy as a factor in relapse. CONCLUSIONS: These data provide novel insights into a case of locally recurrent aggressive prostate cancer harbouring NEPC pathology, in the absence of detected metastasis.
Structures of BCL-2 in complex with venetoclax reveal the molecular basis of resistance mutations
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-06-03)
Venetoclax is a first-in-class cancer therapy that interacts with the cellular apoptotic machinery promoting apoptosis. Treatment of patients suffering chronic lymphocytic leukaemia with this BCL-2 antagonist has revealed emergence of a drug-selected BCL-2 mutation (G101V) in some patients failing therapy. To understand the molecular basis of this acquired resistance we describe the crystal structures of venetoclax bound to both BCL-2 and the G101V mutant. The pose of venetoclax in its binding site on BCL-2 reveals small but unexpected differences as compared to published structures of complexes with venetoclax analogues. The G101V mutant complex structure and mutant binding assays reveal that resistance is acquired by a knock-on effect of V101 on an adjacent residue, E152, with venetoclax binding restored by a E152A mutation. This provides a framework for considering analogues of venetoclax that might be effective in combating this mutation.
Inter-subunit interactions that coordinate Rad51s activities
(OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2009-02-01)
Rad51 is the central catalyst of homologous recombination in eukaryotes and is thus critical for maintaining genomic integrity. Recent crystal structures of filaments formed by Rad51 and the closely related archeal RadA and eubacterial RecA proteins place the ATPase site at the protomeric interface. To test the relevance of this feature, we mutated conserved residues at this interface and examined their effects on key activities of Rad51: ssDNA-stimulated ATP hydrolysis, DNA binding, polymerization on DNA substrates and catalysis of strand-exchange reactions. Our results show that the interface seen in the crystal structures is very important for nucleoprotein filament formation. H352 and R357 of yeast Rad51 are essential for assembling the catalytically competent form of the enzyme on DNA substrates and coordinating its activities. However, contrary to some previous suggestions, neither of these residues is critical for ATP hydrolysis.
A genome-wide RNAi screen in mouse embryonic stem cells identifies Mp1 as a key mediator of differentiation
(ROCKEFELLER UNIV PRESS, 2011-12-19)
Despite intense investigation of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that regulate pluripotency, the process of initial fate commitment of embryonic stem (ES) cells is still poorly understood. We used a genome-wide short hairpin RNA screen in mouse ES cells to identify genes that are essential for initiation of differentiation. Knockdown of the scaffolding protein Mek binding protein 1 (Mp1, also known as Lamtor3 or Map2k1ip1) stimulated self-renewal of ES cells, blocked differentiation, and promoted proliferation. Fibroblast growth factor 4 (FGF4) signaling is required for initial fate commitment of ES cells. Knockdown of Mp1 inhibited FGF4-induced differentiation but did not alter FGF4-driven proliferation. This uncoupling of differentiation and proliferation was also observed when oncogenic Ras isoforms were overexpressed in ES cells. Knockdown of Mp1 redirected FGF4 signaling from differentiation toward pluripotency and up-regulated the pluripotency-related genes Esrrb, Rex1, Tcl1, and Sox2. We also found that human germ cell tumors (GCTs) express low amounts of Mp1 in the invasive embryonic carcinoma and seminoma histologies and higher amounts of Mp1 in the noninvasive carcinoma in situ precursor and differentiated components. Knockdown of Mp1 in invasive GCT cells resulted in resistance to differentiation, thereby showing a functional role for Mp1 both in normal differentiation of ES cells and in germ cell cancer.
The many faces of ubiquitinated histone H2A: insights from the DUBs
Monoubiquitination of H2A is a major histone modification in mammalian cells. Understanding how monoubiquitinated H2A (uH2A) regulates DNA-based processes in the context of chromatin is a challenging question. Work in the past years linked uH2A to transcriptional repression by the Polycomb group proteins of developmental regulators. Recently, a number of mammalian deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs) that catalyze the removal of ubiquitin from H2A have been discovered. These studies provide convincing evidence that H2A deubiquitination is connected with gene activation. In addition, uH2A regulatory enzymes have crucial roles in the cellular response to DNA damage and in cell cycle progression. In this review we will discuss new insights into uH2A biology, with emphasis on the H2A DUBs.
CAF hierarchy driven by pancreatic cancer cell p53-status creates a pro-metastatic and chemoresistant environment via perlecan
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-08-12)
Heterogeneous subtypes of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) coexist within pancreatic cancer tissues and can both promote and restrain disease progression. Here, we interrogate how cancer cells harboring distinct alterations in p53 manipulate CAFs. We reveal the existence of a p53-driven hierarchy, where cancer cells with a gain-of-function (GOF) mutant p53 educate a dominant population of CAFs that establish a pro-metastatic environment for GOF and null p53 cancer cells alike. We also demonstrate that CAFs educated by null p53 cancer cells may be reprogrammed by either GOF mutant p53 cells or their CAFs. We identify perlecan as a key component of this pro-metastatic environment. Using intravital imaging, we observe that these dominant CAFs delay cancer cell response to chemotherapy. Lastly, we reveal that depleting perlecan in the stroma combined with chemotherapy prolongs mouse survival, supporting it as a potential target for anti-stromal therapies in pancreatic cancer.
Combining BH3-mimetics to target both BCL-2 and MCL1 has potent activity in pre-clinical models of acute myeloid leukemia
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-04-01)
Improving outcomes in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains a major clinical challenge. Overexpression of pro-survival BCL-2 family members rendering transformed cells resistant to cytotoxic drugs is a common theme in cancer. Targeting BCL-2 with the BH3-mimetic venetoclax is active in AML when combined with low-dose chemotherapy or hypomethylating agents. We now report the pre-clinical anti-leukemic efficacy of a novel BCL-2 inhibitor S55746, which demonstrates synergistic pro-apoptotic activity in combination with the MCL1 inhibitor S63845. Activity of the combination was caspase and BAX/BAK dependent, superior to combination with standard cytotoxic AML drugs and active against a broad spectrum of poor risk genotypes, including primary samples from patients with chemoresistant AML. Co-targeting BCL-2 and MCL1 was more effective against leukemic, compared to normal hematopoietic progenitors, suggesting a therapeutic window of activity. Finally, S55746 combined with S63845 prolonged survival in xenograft models of AML and suppressed patient-derived leukemia but not normal hematopoietic cells in bone marrow of engrafted mice. In conclusion, a dual BH3-mimetic approach is feasible, highly synergistic, and active in diverse models of human AML. This approach has strong clinical potential to rapidly suppress leukemia, with reduced toxicity to normal hematopoietic precursors compared to chemotherapy.
Targeting enhancer switching overcomes non-genetic drug resistance in acute myeloid leukaemia
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-06-20)
Non-genetic drug resistance is increasingly recognised in various cancers. Molecular insights into this process are lacking and it is unknown whether stable non-genetic resistance can be overcome. Using single cell RNA-sequencing of paired drug naïve and resistant AML patient samples and cellular barcoding in a unique mouse model of non-genetic resistance, here we demonstrate that transcriptional plasticity drives stable epigenetic resistance. With a CRISPR-Cas9 screen we identify regulators of enhancer function as important modulators of the resistant cell state. We show that inhibition of Lsd1 (Kdm1a) is able to overcome stable epigenetic resistance by facilitating the binding of the pioneer factor, Pu.1 and cofactor, Irf8, to nucleate new enhancers that regulate the expression of key survival genes. This enhancer switching results in the re-distribution of transcriptional co-activators, including Brd4, and provides the opportunity to disable their activity and overcome epigenetic resistance. Together these findings highlight key principles to help counteract non-genetic drug resistance.
Accumulation of CD103(+) CD8(+) T cells in a cutaneous melanoma micrometastasis
Objective: The immune system can halt cancer progression by suppressing outgrowth of clinically occult micrometastases in a state of cancer-immune equilibrium. Cutaneous melanoma provides a unique opportunity to study the immune contexture of such lesions, as miniscule skin metastases are accessible to clinical inspection and diagnostic biopsy. Methods: Here, we analysed by multiplex immunofluorescence microscopy samples from a melanoma patient presenting with an overt and an occult in-transit metastasis (ITM), the latter of which appeared as a small erythematous papule. Results: Microarchitecture and immune composition in the two lesions were vastly different. CD4+ and CD8+ T cells accumulated around the margin of the overt SOX10+ Melan A+ ITM but were largely excluded from the tumor centre. By contrast, the occult micrometastasis contained only few SOX10+ Melan A- melanoma cells which were scattered within a dense infiltrate of T cells, including a prominent population of CD103+ CD8+ T cells resembling tissue-resident memory T (TRM) cells. Notably, almost every single melanoma cell in the micrometastasis was in close proximity to these TRM-like cells. Conclusion: Such results support the emerging concept that CD103+ CD8+ TRM cells are key mediators of cancer surveillance and imply an important function of these cells in controlling clinically occult micrometastases in humans.
High-dimensional analyses reveal a distinct role of T-cell subsets in the immune microenvironment of gastric cancer
Objectives: To facilitate disease prognosis and improve precise immunotherapy of gastric cancer (GC) patients, a comprehensive study integrating immune cellular and molecular analyses on tumor tissues and peripheral blood was performed. Methods: The association of GC patients' outcomes and the immune context of their tumors was explored using multiplex immunohistochemistry (mIHC) and transcriptome profiling. Potential immune dysfunction mechanism/s in the tumors on the systemic level was further examined using mass cytometry (CyTOF) in complementary peripheral blood from selected patients. GC cohorts with mIHC and gene expression profiling data were also used as validation cohorts. Results: Increased CD4+FOXP3+ T-cell density in the GC tumor correlated with prolonged survival. Interestingly, CD4+FOXP3+ T cells had a close interaction with CD8+ T cells rather than tumor cells. High densities of CD4+FOXP3+ T cells and CD8+ T cells (High-High) independently predicted prolonged patient survival. Furthermore, the interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) gene signature and PDL1 expression were up-regulated in this group. Importantly, a subgroup of genomically stable (GS) tumors and tumors with chromosomal instability (CIN) within this High-High group also had excellent survival. The High-High GS/CIN tumors were coupled with increased frequencies of Tbet+CD4+ T cells and central memory CD4+ T cells in the peripheral blood. Conclusion: These novel findings identify the combination of CD8+ T cells and FOXP3+CD4+ T cells as a significant prognostic marker for GC patients, which also could potentially be targeted and applied in the combination therapy with immune checkpoint blockades in precision medicine.
A deep learning system accurately classifies primary and metastatic cancers using passenger mutation patterns
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-02-05)
In cancer, the primary tumour's organ of origin and histopathology are the strongest determinants of its clinical behaviour, but in 3% of cases a patient presents with a metastatic tumour and no obvious primary. Here, as part of the ICGC/TCGA Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium, we train a deep learning classifier to predict cancer type based on patterns of somatic passenger mutations detected in whole genome sequencing (WGS) of 2606 tumours representing 24 common cancer types produced by the PCAWG Consortium. Our classifier achieves an accuracy of 91% on held-out tumor samples and 88% and 83% respectively on independent primary and metastatic samples, roughly double the accuracy of trained pathologists when presented with a metastatic tumour without knowledge of the primary. Surprisingly, adding information on driver mutations reduced accuracy. Our results have clinical applicability, underscore how patterns of somatic passenger mutations encode the state of the cell of origin, and can inform future strategies to detect the source of circulating tumour DNA.
Pan-cancer analysis of whole genomes
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2020-02-06)
Cancer is driven by genetic change, and the advent of massively parallel sequencing has enabled systematic documentation of this variation at the whole-genome scale1-3. Here we report the integrative analysis of 2,658 whole-cancer genomes and their matching normal tissues across 38 tumour types from the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). We describe the generation of the PCAWG resource, facilitated by international data sharing using compute clouds. On average, cancer genomes contained 4-5 driver mutations when combining coding and non-coding genomic elements; however, in around 5% of cases no drivers were identified, suggesting that cancer driver discovery is not yet complete. Chromothripsis, in which many clustered structural variants arise in a single catastrophic event, is frequently an early event in tumour evolution; in acral melanoma, for example, these events precede most somatic point mutations and affect several cancer-associated genes simultaneously. Cancers with abnormal telomere maintenance often originate from tissues with low replicative activity and show several mechanisms of preventing telomere attrition to critical levels. Common and rare germline variants affect patterns of somatic mutation, including point mutations, structural variants and somatic retrotransposition. A collection of papers from the PCAWG Consortium describes non-coding mutations that drive cancer beyond those in the TERT promoter4; identifies new signatures of mutational processes that cause base substitutions, small insertions and deletions and structural variation5,6; analyses timings and patterns of tumour evolution7; describes the diverse transcriptional consequences of somatic mutation on splicing, expression levels, fusion genes and promoter activity8,9; and evaluates a range of more-specialized features of cancer genomes8,10-18.