The role of miRNAs in neuroblastoma tumor development
ABSTRACT: Neuroblastoma (NB) is an embryonic tumor arising from immature sympathetic nervous system progenitor cells. MYCN and ALK are driver oncogenes both of which are specifically expressed during early neurogenesis. This is in line with the assumption that NB arises through disruption of normal developmental processes. MYCN has a broad impact on the tumor phenotype; however, the details of the MYCN driven oncogenic program are far from clear. In recent studies we demonstrated that MYCN drives the expression of a defined set of miRNAs that tightly control the expression of several key MYCN target genes, including several components of the TGFÎ² signaling pathway. In order to gain further insight into the role of miRNAs in NB initiation and progression, we evaluated miRNA profiles of hyperplastic ganglia and tumors isolated from MYCN transgenic mice.
Project description:Neuroblastoma (NB) is an embryonic tumor arising from immature sympathetic nervous system progenitor cells. MYCN and ALK are driver oncogenes both of which are specifically expressed during early neurogenesis. This is in line with the assumption that NB arises through disruption of normal developmental processes. MYCN has a broad impact on the tumor phenotype; however, the details of the MYCN driven oncogenic program are far from clear. In recent studies we demonstrated that MYCN drives the expression of a defined set of miRNAs that tightly control the expression of several key MYCN target genes, including several components of the TGFβ signaling pathway. In order to gain further insight into the role of miRNAs in NB initiation and progression, we evaluated miRNA profiles of hyperplastic ganglia and tumors isolated from MYCN transgenic mice.
Project description:Amplification of the MYCN oncogene in childhood neuroblastoma is often accompanied by mutational activation of ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase), suggesting their pathogenic cooperation. We generated a transgenic zebrafish model of neuroblastoma in which MYCN-induced tumors arise from a subpopulation of neuroblasts that migrate into the adrenal medulla analog following organogenesis. Coexpression of activated ALK with MYCN in this model triples the disease penetrance and markedly accelerates tumor onset. MYCN overexpression induces adrenal sympathetic neuroblast hyperplasia, blocks chromaffin cell differentiation, and ultimately triggers a developmentally-timed apoptotic response in the hyperplastic sympathoadrenal cells. Coexpression of activated ALK with MYCN provides prosurvival signals that block this apoptotic response and allow continued expansion and oncogenic transformation of hyperplastic neuroblasts, thus promoting progression to neuroblastoma.
Project description:MYCN, a proto-oncogene normally expressed in the migrating neural crest, is in its amplified state a key factor in the genesis of human neuroblastoma (NB). However, the mechanisms underlying MYCN-mediated NB progression are poorly understood. Here, we present a MYCN-induced miRNA signature in human NB involving the activation and transrepression of several miRNA genes from paralogous clusters. Several family members derived from the miR-17 approximately 92 cluster, including miR-18a and miR-19a, were among the up-regulated miRNAs. Expression analysis of these miRNAs in NB tumors confirmed increased levels in MYCN-amplified samples. Specifically, we show that miR-18a and miR-19a target and repress the expression of estrogen receptor-alpha (ESR1), a ligand-inducible transcription factor implicated in neuronal differentiation. Immunohistochemical staining demonstrated ESR1 expression in human fetal sympathetic ganglia, suggesting a role for ESR1 during sympathetic nervous system development. Concordantly, lentiviral restoration of ESR1 in NB cells resulted in growth arrest and neuronal differentiation. Moreover, lentiviral-mediated inhibition of miR-18a in NB cells led to severe growth retardation, outgrowth of varicosity-containing neurites, and induction of neuronal sympathetic differentiation markers. Bioinformatic analyses of microarray data from NB tumors revealed that high ESR1 expression correlates with increased event-free survival in NB patients and favorable disease outcome. Thus, MYCN amplification may disrupt estrogen signaling sensitivity in primitive sympathetic cells through deregulation of ESR1, thereby preventing the normal induction of neuroblast differentiation. Collectively, our findings demonstrate the molecular consequences of abnormal miRNA transcription in a MYCN-driven tumor and offer unique insights into the pathology underlying MYCN-amplified NB.
Project description:Resistance to anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-targeted therapy in ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer has been reported, with the majority of acquired resistance mechanisms relying on bypass signaling. To proactively identify resistance mechanisms in ALK-positive neuroblastoma (NB), we herein employ genome-wide CRISPR activation screens of NB cell lines treated with brigatinib or ceritinib, identifying PIM1 as a putative resistance gene, whose high expression is associated with high-risk disease and poor survival. Knockdown of PIM1 sensitizes cells of differing MYCN status to ALK inhibitors, and in patient-derived xenografts of high-risk NB harboring ALK mutations, the combination of the ALK inhibitor ceritinib and PIM1 inhibitor AZD1208 shows significantly enhanced anti-tumor efficacy relative to single agents. These data confirm that PIM1 overexpression decreases sensitivity to ALK inhibitors in NB, and suggests that combined front-line inhibition of ALK and PIM1 is a viable strategy for the treatment of ALK-positive NB independent of MYCN status.
Project description:Activating germline mutations of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) occur in most cases of hereditary neuroblastoma (NB) and the constitutively active kinase activity of ALK promotes cell proliferation and survival in NB. Therefore, ALK kinase is a potential therapeutic target for NB. In this study, we show that the novel ALK inhibitor alectinib effectively suppressed cell proliferation and induces apoptosis in NB cell lines with either wild-type ALK or mutated ALK (F1174L and D1091N) by blocking ALK-mediated PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling. In addition, alectinib enhanced doxorubicin-induced cytotoxicity and apoptosis in NB cells. Furthermore, alectinib induced apoptosis in an orthotopic xenograft NB mouse model. Also, in the TH-MYCN transgenic mouse model, alectinib resulted in decreased tumor growth and prolonged survival time. These results indicate that alectinib may be a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of NB.
Project description:Activating mutations of the ALK (Anaplastic lymphoma Kinase) gene have been identified in sporadic and familial cases of neuroblastoma, a cancer of early childhood arising from the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). To decipher ALK function in neuroblastoma predisposition and oncogenesis, we have characterized knock-in (KI) mice bearing the two most frequent mutations observed in neuroblastoma patients. A dramatic enlargement of sympathetic ganglia is observed in AlkF1178L mice from embryonic to adult stages associated with an increased proliferation of sympathetic neuroblasts from E14.5 to birth. In a MYCN transgenic context, the F1178L mutation displays a higher oncogenic potential than the R1279Q mutation as evident from a shorter latency of tumor onset. We show that tumors expressing the R1279Q mutation are sensitive to ALK inhibition upon crizotinib treatment. Furthermore, our data provide evidence that activated ALK triggers RET upregulation in mouse sympathetic ganglia at birth as well as in murine and human neuroblastoma. Using vandetanib, we show that RET inhibition strongly impairs tumor growth in vivo in both MYCN/KI AlkR1279Q and MYCN/KI AlkF1178L mice. Altogether, our findings demonstrate the critical role of activated ALK in SNS development and pathogenesis and identify RET as a therapeutic target in ALK mutated neuroblastoma.
Project description:High-risk neuroblastoma (NB) is responsible for a disproportionate number of childhood deaths due to cancer. One indicator of high-risk NB is amplification of the neural MYC (MYCN) oncogene, which is currently therapeutically intractable. Identification of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) as an NB oncogene raised the possibility of using ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in treatment of patients with activating ALK mutations. 8-10% of primary NB patients are ALK-positive, a figure that increases in the relapsed population. ALK is activated by the ALKAL2 ligand located on chromosome 2p, along with ALK and MYCN, in the "2p-gain" region associated with NB. Dysregulation of ALK ligand in NB has not been addressed, although one of the first oncogenes described was v-sis that shares > 90% homology with PDGF. Therefore, we tested whether ALKAL2 ligand could potentiate NB progression in the absence of ALK mutation. We show that ALKAL2 overexpression in mice drives ALK TKI-sensitive NB in the absence of ALK mutation, suggesting that additional NB patients, such as those exhibiting 2p-gain, may benefit from ALK TKI-based therapeutic intervention.
Project description:Neuroblastoma is an embryonic tumor arising from immature sympathetic nervous system progenitor cells. MYCN and ALK are driver oncogenes both of which are specifically expressed during early neurogenesis. This is in line with the assumption that neuroblastoma arises through disruption of normal developmental processes. MYCN has a broad impact on the tumor phenotype; however, the details of the MYCN driven oncogenic program are far from clear. In order to gain further insight into the role of gene expression during neuroblastoma initiation and progression, we evaluated gene expression profiles of hyperplastic ganglia and tumors isolated from MYCN transgenic mice.
Project description:Neuroblastoma is an embryonic tumor arising from immature sympathetic nervous system cells. Recurrent genomic alterations include MYCN and ALK amplification as well as recurrent patterns of gains and losses of whole or large partial chromosome segments. A recent whole genome sequencing effort yielded no frequently recurring mutations in genes other than those affecting ALK. However, the study further stresses the importance of DNA copy number alterations in this disease, in particular for genes implicated in neuritogenesis. Here we provide additional evidence for the importance of focal DNA copy number gains and losses, which are predominantly observed in MYCN amplified tumors. A focal 5 kb gain encompassing the MYCN regulated miR-17~92 cluster as sole gene was detected in a neuroblastoma cell line and further analyses of the array CGH data set demonstrated enrichment for other MYCN target genes in focal gains and amplifications. Next we applied an integrated genomics analysis to prioritize MYCN down regulated genes mediated by MYCN driven miRNAs within regions of focal heterozygous or homozygous deletion. We identified RGS5, a negative regulator of G-protein signaling implicated in vascular normalization, invasion and metastasis, targeted by a focal homozygous deletion, as a new MYCN target gene, down regulated through MYCN activated miRNAs. In addition, we expand the miR-17~92 regulatory network controlling TGFß signaling in neuroblastoma with the ring finger protein 11 encoding gene RNF11, which was previously shown to be targeted by the miR-17~92 member miR-19b. Taken together, our data indicate that focal DNA copy number imbalances in neuroblastoma (1) target genes that are implicated in MYCN signaling, possibly selected to reinforce MYCN oncogene addiction and (2) serve as a resource for identifying new molecular targets for treatment.
Project description:MicroRNAs are small molecules which regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally and aberrant expression of several miRNAs is associated with neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer arising from precursor cells of the sympathetic nervous system. Amplification of the MYCN transcription factor characterizes the most clinically aggressive subtype of this disease, and although alteration of p53 signaling is not commonly found in primary tumors, deregulation of proteins involved in this pathway frequently arise in recurrent disease after pharmacological treatment. TH-MYCN is a well-characterized transgenic model of MYCN-driven neuroblastoma which recapitulates many clinicopathologic features of the human disease. Here, we evaluate the dysregulation of miRNAs in tumors from TH-MYCN mice that are either wild-type (TH-MYCN) or deficient (TH-MYCN/p53ER(TAM)) for the p53 tumor suppressor gene.We analyzed the expression of 591 miRNAs in control (adrenal) and neuroblastoma tumor tissues derived from either TH-MYCN or TH-MYCN/p53ER(TAM) mice, respectively wild-type or deficient in p53. Comparing miRNA expression in tumor and control samples, we identified 159 differentially expressed miRNAs. Using data previously obtained from human neuroblastoma samples, we performed a comparison of miRNA expression between murine and human tumors to assess the concordance between murine and human expression data. Notably, the miR-17-5p-92 oncogenic polycistronic cluster, which is over-expressed in human MYCN amplified tumors, was over-expressed in mouse tumors. Moreover, analyzing miRNAs expression in a mouse model (TH-MYCN/p53ER(TAM)) possessing a transgenic p53 allele that drives the expression of an inactive protein, we identified miR-125b-3p and miR-676 as directly or indirectly regulated by the level of functional p53.Our study represents the first miRNA profiling of an important mouse model of neuroblastoma. Similarities and differences in miRNAs expression between human and murine neuroblastoma were identified, providing important insight into the efficacy of this mouse model for assessing miRNA involvement in neuroblastoma and their potential effectiveness as therapeutic targets.