Single cell RNA-seq of an native and engineered metastatic niche in a metastatic breast cancer murine model
ABSTRACT: Metastatic lesions are typically not found until patients self-report symptoms or they become radiologically evident. We have developed an engineered metastatic niche (scaffold) that recruits aggressive tumor cells prior to their colonization in other organs. The engineered niche can be monitored for dynamic gene expression, and changes at this site are analogous to those in a native metastatic site (lung) for triple negative breast cancer (4T1 cells). We were able to develop a 10-gene signature from the scaffold that accurately monitors disease progression and recurrence or resistance to resection therapy. This data set acts to dissect the heterogeneity of the cell populations in the engineered and native metastatic niche and identify the cell types that contribute to the success of the signature.
Project description:The pre-metastatic niche - the accumulation of aberrant immune cells and extracellular matrix proteins in target organs - primes the initially healthy organ microenvironment and renders it amenable for subsequent metastatic cell colonization. By attracting metastatic cancer cells, mimics of the pre-metastatic niche offer both diagnostic and therapeutic potential. However, deconstructing the complexity of the niche by identifying the interactions between cell populations and the mediatory roles of the immune system, soluble factors, extracellular matrix proteins, and stromal cells has proved challenging. Experimental models need to recapitulate niche-population biology in situ and mediate in vivo tumour-cell homing, colonization and proliferation. In this Review, we outline the biology of the pre-metastatic niche and discuss advances in engineered niche-mimicking biomaterials that regulate the behaviour of tumour cells at an implant site. Such oncomaterials offer strategies for early detection of metastatic events, inhibiting the formation of the pre-metastatic niche, and attenuating metastatic progression.
Project description:Metastatic tumor cells colonize the pre-metastatic niche, which is a complex microenvironment consisting partially of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. We sought to identify and validate novel contributors to tumor cell colonization using ECM-coated poly(?-caprolactone) (PCL) scaffolds as mimics of the pre-metastatic niche. Utilizing orthotopic breast cancer mouse models, fibronectin and collagen IV-coated scaffolds implanted in the subcutaneous space captured colonizing tumor cells, showing a greater than 2-fold increase in tumor cell accumulation at the implant site compared to uncoated scaffolds. As a strategy to identify additional ECM colonization contributors, decellularized matrix (DCM) from lungs and livers containing metastatic tumors were characterized. In vitro, metastatic cell adhesion was increased on DCM coatings from diseased organs relative to healthy DCM. Furthermore, in vivo implantations of diseased DCM-coated scaffolds had increased tumor cell colonization relative to healthy DCM coatings. Mass-spectrometry proteomics was performed on healthy and diseased DCM to identify candidates associated with colonization. Myeloperoxidase was identified as abundantly present in diseased organs and validated as a contributor to colonization using myeloperoxidase-coated scaffold implants. This work identified novel ECM proteins associated with colonization using decellularization and proteomics techniques and validated candidates using a scaffold to mimic the pre-metastatic niche.The pre-metastatic niche consists partially of ECM proteins that promote metastatic cell colonization to a target organ. We present a biomaterials-based approach to mimic this niche and identify ECM mediators of colonization. Using murine breast cancer models, we implanted microporous PCL scaffolds to recruit colonizing tumor cells in vivo. As a strategy to modulate colonization, we coated scaffolds with various ECM proteins, including decellularized lung and liver matrix from tumor-bearing mice. After characterizing the organ matrices using proteomics, myeloperoxidase was identified as an ECM protein contributing to colonization and validated using our scaffold. Our scaffold provides a platform to identify novel contributors to colonization and allows for the capture of colonizing tumor cells for a variety of downstream clinical applications.
Project description:Primary tumor (PT) immune cells and pre-metastatic niche (PMN) sites are critical to metastasis. Recently, synthetic biomaterial scaffolds used as PMN mimics are shown to capture both immune and metastatic tumor cells. Herein, studies are performed to investigate whether the scaffold-mediated redirection of immune and tumor cells would alter the primary tumor microenvironment (TME). Transcriptomic analysis of PT cells from scaffold-implanted and mock-surgery mice identifies differentially regulated pathways relevant to invasion and metastasis progression. Transcriptomic differences are hypothesized to result from scaffold-mediated modulations of immune cell trafficking and phenotype in the TME. Culturing tumor cells with conditioned media generated from PT immune cells of scaffold-implanted mice decrease invasion in vitro more than two-fold relative to mock surgery controls and reduce activity of invasion-promoting transcription factors. Secretomic characterization of the conditioned media delineates interactions between immune cells in the TME and tumor cells, showing an increase in the pan-metastasis inhibitor decorin and a concomitant decrease in invasion-promoting chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2) in scaffold-implanted mice. Flow cytometric and transcriptomic profiling of PT immune cells identify phenotypically distinct tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) in scaffold-implanted mice, which may contribute to an invasion-suppressive TME. Taken together, this study demonstrates biomaterial scaffolds systemically influence metastatic progression through manipulation of the TME.
Project description:For most cancers, metastasis is the point at which clinical treatment shifts from curative intent to extending survival. Biomaterial implants acting as a synthetic premetastatic niche recruit metastatic cancer cells and provide a survival advantage, and their use as a diagnostic platform requires assessing their relevance to disease progression. Here, we showed that scaffold-captured tumor cells (SCAF) were 30 times more metastatic to the lung than primary tumor (PT) cells, similar to cells derived from lung micrometastases (LUNG). SCAF cells were more aggressive in vitro, demonstrated higher levels of migration, invasion, and mammosphere formation, and had a greater proportion of cancer stem cells than PT. SCAF cells were highly enriched for gene expression signatures associated with metastasis and had associated genomic structural changes, including globally enhanced entropy. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that SCAF cells are distinct from PT and more closely resemble LUNG, indicating that tumor cells retrieved from scaffolds are reflective of cells at metastatic sites. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings suggest that metastatic tumor cells captured by a biomaterial scaffold may serve as a diagnostic for molecular staging of metastasis.Graphical Abstract: http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/canres/79/8/2042/F1.large.jpg.
Project description:Metastatic cell homing is a complex process mediated in part by diffusible factors secreted from immune cells found at a pre-metastatic niche. We report on connecting together secretomics and a TRanscriptional Activity CEll aRray (TRACER) to identify functional paracrine interactions between immune cells and metastatic cells as novel mediators of metastatic cell homing. Splenocytes from orthotopic mouse models of breast cancer were isolated to generate a diseased splenocyte conditioned media (D-SCM) containing immune cell secreted factors. MDA-MB-231 metastatic cell activity including cell invasion, migration, transendothelial migration, and proliferation were increased when cultured with D-SCM compared to healthy SCM (H-SCM) and unconditioned media controls. Our secretome analysis of D-SCM yielded secreted factor candidates that contribute to increased metastatic cell activity. In parallel, we identified active TFs within metastatic cells in response to the secreted factors using TRACER. We connected both data sets using MetaCore software to determine interactions between immune cell secreted factors and active metastatic cell TFs to narrow down functional secreted factor candidates that mediate metastatic cell homing. Haptoglobin was among the list of secreted factors and was validated in vitro as a key mediator of metastatic cell recruitment. Furthermore, we designed an implantable poly(lactide-co-glycolide) biomaterial scaffold as a mimic of the pre-metastatic niche to slowly release haptoglobin and demonstrate increased homing of metastatic cells to the scaffold in vivo. Taken together, our studies demonstrate a novel systems biology technique to identify functional paracrine signaling factors, which were validated to reveal mediators of metastatic cell homing.
Project description:Monitoring metastatic events in distal tissues is challenged by their sporadic occurrence in obscure and inaccessible locations within these vital organs. A synthetic biomaterial scaffold can function as a synthetic metastatic niche to reveal the nature of these distal sites. These implanted scaffolds promote tissue ingrowth, which upon cancer initiation is transformed into a metastatic niche that captures aggressive circulating tumor cells. We hypothesized that immune cell phenotypes at synthetic niches reflect the immunosuppressive conditioning within a host that contributes to metastatic cell recruitment and can identify disease progression and response to therapy. We analyzed the expression of 632 immune-centric genes in tissue biopsied from implants at weekly intervals following inoculation. Specific immune populations within implants were then analyzed by single-cell RNA-seq. Dynamic gene expression profiles in innate cells, such as myeloid-derived suppressor cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells, suggest the development of an immunosuppressive microenvironment. These dynamics in immune phenotypes at implants was analogous to that in the diseased lung and had distinct dynamics compared with blood leukocytes. Following a therapeutic excision of the primary tumor, longitudinal tracking of immune phenotypes at the implant in individual mice showed an initial response to therapy, which over time differentiated recurrence versus survival. Collectively, the microenvironment at the synthetic niche acts as a sentinel by reflecting both progression and regression of disease. SIGNIFICANCE: Immune dynamics at biomaterial implants, functioning as a synthetic metastatic niche, provides unique information that correlates with disease progression. GRAPHICAL ABSTRACT: http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/canres/80/3/602/F1.large.jpg.<i>See related commentary by Wolf and Elisseeff, p. 377</i>.
Project description:Modeling the hematogenous spread of cancer cells to distant organs poses one of the greatest challenges in the study of human metastasis. Both tumor cell-intrinsic properties as well as interactions with reactive stromal cells contribute to this process, but identification of relevant stromal signals has been hampered by the lack of models allowing characterization of the metastatic niche. Here, we describe an implantable bioengineered scaffold, amenable to in vivo imaging, ex vivo manipulation, and serial transplantation for the continuous study of human metastasis in mice. Orthotopic or systemic inoculation of tagged human cancer cells into the mouse leads to the release of circulating tumor cells into the vasculature, which seed the scaffold, initiating a metastatic tumor focus. Mouse stromal cells can be readily recovered and profiled, revealing differential expression of cytokines, such as IL1?, from tumor-bearing versus unseeded scaffolds. Finally, this platform can be used to test the effect of drugs on suppressing initiation of metastatic lesions. This generalizable model to study cancer metastasis may thus identify key stromal-derived factors with important implications for basic and translational cancer research.
Project description:Cancer metastasis poses a challenging problem both clinically and scientifically, as the stochastic nature of metastatic lesion formation introduces complexity for both early detection and the study of metastasis in preclinical models. Engineered metastatic niches represent an emerging approach to address this stochasticity by creating bioengineered sites where cancer can preferentially metastasize. As the engineered niche captures the earliest metastatic cells at a nonvital location, both noninvasive and biopsy-based monitoring of these sites can be performed routinely to detect metastasis early and monitor alterations in the forming metastatic niche. The engineered metastatic niche also provides a new platform technology that serves as a tunable site to molecularly dissect metastatic disease mechanisms. Ultimately, linking the engineered niches with advances in sensor development and synthetic biology can provide enabling tools for preclinical cancer models and fosters the potential to impact the future of clinical cancer care.
Project description:Bone is the most common site of breast cancer metastasis. Although it is widely accepted that the microenvironment influences cancer cell behavior, little is known about breast cancer cell properties and behaviors within the native microenvironment of human bone tissue.We have developed approaches to track, quantify and modulate human breast cancer cells within the microenvironment of cultured human bone tissue fragments isolated from discarded femoral heads following total hip replacement surgeries. Using breast cancer cells engineered for luciferase and enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) expression, we are able to reproducibly quantitate migration and proliferation patterns using bioluminescence imaging (BLI), track cell interactions within the bone fragments using fluorescence microscopy, and evaluate breast cells after colonization with flow cytometry. The key advantages of this model include: 1) a native, architecturally intact tissue microenvironment that includes relevant human cell types, and 2) direct access to the microenvironment, which facilitates rapid quantitative and qualitative monitoring and perturbation of breast and bone cell properties, behaviors and interactions. A primary limitation, at present, is the finite viability of the tissue fragments, which confines the window of study to short-term culture. Applications of the model system include studying the basic biology of breast cancer and other bone-seeking malignancies within the metastatic niche, and developing therapeutic strategies to effectively target breast cancer cells in bone tissues.
Project description:Metastatic cancers produce exosomes that condition pre-metastatic niches in remote microenvironments to favor metastasis. In contrast, here we show that exosomes from poorly metastatic melanoma cells can potently inhibit metastasis to the lung. These "non-metastatic" exosomes stimulate an innate immune response through the expansion of Ly6Clow patrolling monocytes (PMo) in the bone marrow, which then cause cancer cell clearance at the pre-metastatic niche, via the recruitment of NK cells and TRAIL-dependent killing of melanoma cells by macrophages. These events require the induction of the Nr4a1 transcription factor and are dependent on pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) on the outer surface of exosomes. Importantly, exosomes isolated from patients with non-metastatic primary melanomas have a similar ability to suppress lung metastasis. This study thus demonstrates that pre-metastatic tumors produce exosomes, which elicit a broad range of PMo-reliant innate immune responses via trigger(s) of immune surveillance, causing cancer cell clearance at the pre-metastatic niche.