Induction of human epithelial stem/progenitor expansion by FOXM1.
ABSTRACT: Stem cells are permanent residents of tissues and thought to be targets of cancer initiation. The frequent, and often early, upregulation of the FOXM1 transcription factor in the majority of human cancers suggests that it may participate in the initiation of human tumorigenesis. However, this hypothesis has not been tested. Herein, we show that targeting the ectopic expression of FOXM1 to the highly clonogenic cells of primary human keratinocytes with stem/progenitor cell properties, but not to differentiating cells, caused clonal expansion in vitro. We show, using a functional three-dimensional organotypic epithelial tissue regeneration system, that ectopic FOXM1 expression perturbed epithelial differentiation generating a hyperproliferative phenotype reminiscent of that seen in human epithelial hyperplasia. Furthermore, transcriptional expression analysis of a panel of 28 epithelial differentiation-specific genes reveals a role for FOXM1 in the suppression of epithelial differentiation. This study provides the first evidence that FOXM1 participates in an early oncogenic pathway that predisposes cells to tumorigenesis by expanding the stem/progenitor compartment and deregulating subsequent keratinocyte terminal differentiation. This finding reveals an important window of susceptibility to oncogenic signals in epithelial stem/progenitor cells prior to differentiation, and may provide a significant benefit to the design of cancer therapeutic interventions that target oncogenesis at its earliest incipient stage.
Project description:The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a ligand-activated transcription factor that senses xenobiotics, diet and gut microbial-derived metabolites, is increasingly recognized as a key regulator of intestinal biology. However, its effects on the function of colonic stem and progenitor cells remain largely unexplored. Here, we observed that inducible deletion of AhR in Lgr5+ stem cells increases the percentage of colonic stem cells and enhances organoid initiating capacity and growth of sorted stem and progenitor cells, while AhR activation has the opposite effect. Moreover, intestinal-specific AhR knockout increases basal stem cell and crypt injury-induced cell proliferation, and promotes colon tumorigenesis in a preclinical colitis-associated tumor model by upregulating FoxM1 signaling. Mechanistically, AhR transcriptionally suppresses FoxM1 expression. Activation of AhR in human organoids recapitulates phenotypes observed in mice, such as reduction in the percentage of colonic stem cells, promotion of stem cell differentiation, and attenuation of FoxM1 signaling. These findings indicate that the AhR-FoxM1 axis, at least in part, mediates colonic stem/progenitor cell behavior.
Project description:Tumour suppressor p53 or proto-oncogene MYC is frequently altered in squamous carcinomas, but this is insufficient to drive carcinogenesis. We have shown that overactivation of MYC or loss of p53 via DNA damage triggers an anti-oncogenic differentiation-mitosis checkpoint in human epidermal keratinocytes, resulting in impaired cell division and squamous differentiation. Forkhead box M1 (FOXM1) is a transcription factor recently proposed to govern the expression of a set of mitotic genes. Deregulation of FOXM1 occurs in a wide variety of epithelial malignancies. We have ectopically expressed FOXM1 in keratinocytes of the skin after overexpression of MYC or inactivation of endogenous p53. Ectopic FOXM1 rescues the proliferative capacity of MYC- or p53-mutant cells in spite of higher genetic damage and a larger cell size typical of differentiation. As a consequence, differentiation induced by loss of p53 or MYC is converted into increased proliferation and keratinocytes displaying genomic instability are maintained within the proliferative compartment. The results demonstrate that keratinocyte oncogene-induced differentiation is caused by mitosis control and provide new insight into the mechanisms driving malignant progression in squamous cancer.
Project description:Genomic instability is a prominent driver of tumorigenesis. However, a significant fraction of human cancers display few genomic aberrations, suggesting alternative roads towards malignancy. Here, we show that the differentiation status of normal human mammary epithelial cells influences the early response to an oncogenic activation and determines the genetic routes towards tumorigenesis. Following an oncogenic insult, luminal progenitors and differentiated luminal cells undergo oxidative and DNA replication stress, initiating genomic instability. In contrast, mammary stem cells exhibit the innate capacity to withstand aberrant mitogenic activation, fostering malignant transformation. This property relies upon a pre-emptive program driven by the ZEB1 transcription factor and the methionine sulfoxide reductase MSRB3. The ZEB1-MSRB3 axis governs cellular pliancy and prevents the continuous formation of oncogene-induced DNA damage, leading to neoplasms with unique pathological features. These gene expression data correspond to the different subpopulations that compose the hierarchy of normal human mammary epithelial cells. These subpopulations were freshly isolated from mammary tissue, originating from reduction mammoplasties and flow sorted using four markers (EpCAM, CD10, CD49f, ALDH). Three subpopulations enriched in mammary stem cells (MaSCs) are designed as MaSC1, 2, 3; the luminal progenitor are designed as LP, and the mature luminal cells as mL1 and mL2.
Project description:Forkhead box M1 (FOXM1) is a proliferation-associated transcription factor essential for cell cycle progression. Numerous studies have documented that FOXM1 has multiple functions in tumorigenesis and its elevated levels are frequently associated with cancer progression. Here, we characterized the role of ERK/FOXM1 signaling in mediating the metastatic potential of ovarian cancer cells. Immunohistochemical (IHC), immunoblotting and semi-quantitative RT-PCR analyses found that both phospho-ERK and FOXM1 were frequently upregulated in ovarian cancers. Intriguingly, the overexpressed phospho-ERK (p<0.001) and FOXM1 (p<0.001) were significantly correlated to high-grade ovarian tumors with aggressive behavior such as metastasized lymph node (5 out of 6). Moreover, the expressions of phospho-ERK and FOXM1 had significantly positive correlation (p<0.001). Functionally, ectopic expression of FOXM1B remarkably enhanced cell migration/invasion, while FOXM1C not only increased cell proliferation but also promoted cell migration/invasion. Conversely, inhibition of FOXM1 expression by either thiostrepton or U0126 could significantly impair FOXM1 mediated oncogenic capacities. However, the down-regulation of FOXM1 by either thiostrepton or U0126 required the presence of p53 in ovarian cancer cells. Collectively, our data suggest that over-expression of FOXM1 might stem from the constitutively active ERK which confers the metastatic capabilities to ovarian cancer cells. The impairment of metastatic potential of cancer cells by FOXM1 inhibitors underscores its therapeutic value in advanced ovarian tumors.
Project description:Forkhead box M1 (FOXM1) belongs to the forkhead/winged-helix family of transcription factors and regulates a network of proliferation-associated genes. Its abnormal upregulation has been shown to be a key driver of cancer progression and an initiating factor in oncogenesis. FOXM1 is also highly expressed in stem/progenitor cells and inhibits their differentiation, suggesting that FOXM1 plays a role in the maintenance of multipotency. However, the exact molecular mechanisms by which FOXM1 regulates human stem/progenitor cells are still uncharacterized. To understand the role of FOXM1 in normal hematopoiesis, human cord blood CD34+ cells were transduced with FOXM1 short hairpin ribonucleic acid (shRNA) lentivirus. Knockdown of FOXM1 resulted in a 2-fold increase in erythroid cells compared to myeloid cells. Additionally, knockdown of FOXM1 increased bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation in erythroid cells, suggesting greater proliferation of erythroid progenitors. We also observed that the defective phosphorylation of FOXM1 by checkpoint kinase 2 (CHK2) or cyclin-dependent kinases 1/2 (CDK1/2) increased the erythroid population in a manner similar to knockdown of FOXM1. Finally, we found that an inhibitor of FOXM1, forkhead domain inhibitor-6 (FDI-6), increased red blood cell numbers through increased proliferation of erythroid precursors. Overall, our data suggest a novel function of FOXM1 in normal human hematopoiesis.
Project description:Master regulatory genes of tissue specification play key roles in stem/progenitor cells and are often important in cancer. In the prostate, androgen receptor (AR) is a master regulator essential for development and tumorigenesis, but its specific functions in prostate stem/progenitor cells have not been elucidated. We have investigated AR function in CARNs (CAstration-Resistant Nkx3.1-expressing cells), a luminal stem/progenitor cell that functions in prostate regeneration. Using genetically--engineered mouse models and novel prostate epithelial cell lines, we find that progenitor properties of CARNs are largely unaffected by AR deletion, apart from decreased proliferation in vivo. Furthermore, AR loss suppresses tumor formation after deletion of the Pten tumor suppressor in CARNs; however, combined Pten deletion and activation of oncogenic Kras in AR-deleted CARNs result in tumors with focal neuroendocrine differentiation. Our findings show that AR modulates specific progenitor properties of CARNs, including their ability to serve as a cell of origin for prostate cancer.
Project description:Respiratory epithelial cells are derived from cell progenitors in the foregut endoderm that subsequently differentiate into the distinct cell types lining the conducting and alveolar regions of the lung. To identify transcriptional mechanisms regulating differentiation and maintenance of respiratory epithelial cells, we conditionally deleted Foxm1 transcription factor from the conducting airways of the developing mouse lung. Conditional deletion of Foxm1 from Clara cells, controlled by the Scgb1a1 promoter, dramatically altered airway structure and caused peribronchial fibrosis, resulting in airway hyperreactivity in adult mice. Deletion of Foxm1 inhibited proliferation of Clara cells and disrupted the normal patterning of epithelial cell differentiation in the bronchioles, causing squamous and goblet cell metaplasia, and the loss of Clara and ciliated cells. Surprisingly, conducting airways of Foxm1-deficient mice contained highly differentiated cuboidal type II epithelial cells that are normally restricted to the alveoli. Lineage tracing studies showed that the ectopic alveolar type II cells in Foxm1-deficient airways were derived from Clara cells. Deletion of Foxm1 inhibited Sox2 and Scgb1a1, both of which are critical for differentiation and function of Clara cells. In co-transfection experiments, Foxm1 directly bound to and induced transcriptional activity of Scgb1a1 and Sox2 promoters. Foxm1 is required for differentiation and maintenance of epithelial cells lining conducting airways.
Project description:Malignant neuroblastomas contain stem-like cells. These tumors also overexpress the Forkhead box transcription factor FoxM1. In this study, we investigated the roles of FoxM1 in the tumorigenicity of neuroblastoma. We showed that depletion of FoxM1 inhibits anchorage-independent growth and tumorigenicity in mouse xenografts. Moreover, knockdown of FoxM1 induces differentiation in neuroblastoma cells, suggesting that FoxM1 plays a role in the maintenance of the undifferentiated progenitor population. We showed that inhibition of FoxM1 in malignant neuroblastoma cells leads to the downregulation of the pluripotency genes sex determining region Y box 2 (Sox2) and Bmi1. We provided evidence that FoxM1 directly activates expression of Sox2 in neuroblastoma cells. By using a conditional deletion system and neurosphere cultures, we showed that FoxM1 is important for expression of Sox2 and Bmi1 in the mouse neural stem/progenitor cells and is critical for its self-renewal. Together, our observations suggested that FoxM1 plays an important role in the tumorigenicity of the aggressive neuroblastoma cells through maintenance of the undifferentiated state.
Project description:When assembling a nephron during development a multipotent stem cell pool becomes restricted as differentiation ensues. A faulty differentiation arrest in this process leads to transformation and initiation of a Wilms' tumor. Mapping these transitions with respective surface markers affords accessibility to specific cell subpopulations. NCAM1 and CD133 have been previously suggested to mark human renal progenitor populations. Herein, using cell sorting, RNA sequencing, in vitro studies with serum-free media and in vivo xenotransplantation we demonstrate a sequential map that links human kidney development and tumorigenesis; In nephrogenesis, NCAM1(+)CD133(-) marks SIX2(+) multipotent renal stem cells transiting to NCAM1(+)CD133(+) differentiating segment-specific SIX2(-) epithelial progenitors and NCAM1(-)CD133(+) differentiated nephron cells. In tumorigenesis, NCAM1(+)CD133(-) marks SIX2(+) blastema that includes the ALDH1(+) WT cancer stem/initiating cells, while NCAM1(+)CD133(+) and NCAM1(-)CD133(+) specifying early and late epithelial differentiation, are severely restricted in tumor initiation capacity and tumor self-renewal. Thus, negative selection for CD133 is required for defining NCAM1(+) nephron stem cells in normal and malignant nephrogenesis.
Project description:Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most aggressive and most lethal brain tumor. As current standard therapy consisting of surgery and chemo-irradiation provides limited benefit for GBM patients, novel therapeutic options are urgently required. Forkhead box M1 (FoxM1) transcription factor is an oncogenic regulator that promotes the proliferation, survival, and treatment resistance of various human cancers. The roles of FoxM1 in GBM remain incompletely understood, due in part to pleotropic nature of the FoxM1 pathway. Here, we show the roles of FoxM1 in GBM stem cell maintenance and radioresistance. ShRNA-mediated FoxM1 inhibition significantly impeded clonogenic growth and survival of patient-derived primary GBM cells with marked downregulation of Sox2, a master regulator of stem cell phenotype. Ectopic expression of Sox2 partially rescued FoxM1 inhibition-mediated effects. Conversely, FoxM1 overexpression upregulated Sox2 expression and promoted clonogenic growth of GBM cells. These data, with a direct binding of FoxM1 in the Sox2 promoter region in GBM cells, suggest that FoxM1 regulates stemness of primary GBM cells via Sox2. We also found significant increases in FoxM1 and Sox2 expression in GBM cells after irradiation both in vitro and in vivo orthotopic tumor models. Notably, genetic or a small-molecule FoxM1 inhibitor-mediated FoxM1 targeting significantly sensitized GBM cells to irradiation, accompanying with Sox2 downregulation. Finally, FoxM1 inhibition combined with irradiation in a patient GBM-derived orthotopic model significantly impeded tumor growth and prolonged the survival of tumor bearing mice. Taken together, these results indicate that the FoxM1-Sox2 signaling axis promotes clonogenic growth and radiation resistance of GBM, and suggest that FoxM1 targeting combined with irradiation is a potentially effective therapeutic approach for GBM.