Progesterone-inducible cytokeratin 5-positive cells in luminal breast cancer exhibit progenitor properties.
ABSTRACT: Progestins play a deleterious role in the onset of breast cancer, yet their influence on existing breast cancer and tumor progression is not well understood. In luminal estrogen receptor (ER)- and progesterone receptor (PR)-positive breast cancer, progestins induce a fraction of cells to express cytokeratin 5 (CK5), a marker of basal epithelial and progenitor cells in the normal breast. CK5(+) cells lose expression of ER and PR and are relatively quiescent, increasing their resistance to endocrine and chemotherapy compared to intratumoral CK5(-)ER(+)PR(+) cells. Characterization of live CK5(+) cells has been hampered by a lack of means for their direct isolation. Here, we describe optical (GFP) and bioluminescent (luciferase) reporter models to quantitate and isolate CK5(+) cells in luminal breast cancer cell lines utilizing the human KRT5 gene promoter and a viral vector approach. Using this system, we confirmed that the induction of GFP(+)/CK5(+) cells is specific to progestins, is dependent on PR, can be blocked by antiprogestins, and does not occur with other steroid hormones. Progestin-induced, fluorescence-activated cell sorting-isolated CK5(+) cells had lower ER and PR mRNA, were slower cycling, and were relatively more invasive and sphere forming than their CK5(-) counterparts in vitro. Repeated progestin treatment and selection of GFP(+) cells enriched for a persistent population of CK5(+) cells, suggesting that this transition can be semi-permanent. These data support that in PR(+) breast cancers, progestins induce a subpopulation of CK5(+)ER(-)PR(-) cells with enhanced progenitor properties and have implications for treatment resistance and recurrence in luminal breast cancer.
Project description:Breast cancers expressing hormone receptors for estrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) represent ~70% of all cases and are treated with both ER-targeted and chemotherapies, with near 40% becoming resistant. We have previously described that in some ER(+) tumors, the resistant cells express cytokeratin 5 (CK5), a putative marker of breast stem and progenitor cells. CK5(+) cells have lost expression of ER and PR, express the tumor-initiating cell surface marker CD44, and are relatively quiescent. In addition, progestins, which increase breast cancer incidence, expand the CK5(+) subpopulation in ER(+)PR(+) breast cancer cell lines. We have developed models to induce and quantitate CK5(+)ER(-)PR(-) cells, using CK5 promoter-driven luciferase (Fluc) or green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporters stably transduced into T47D breast cancer cells (CK5Pro-GFP or CK5Pro-Luc). We validated the CK5Pro-GFP-T47D model for high-content screening in 96-well microplates and performed a pilot screen using a focused library of 280 compounds from the National Institutes of Health clinical collection. Four hits were obtained that significantly abrogated the progestin-induced CK5(+) cell population, three of which were members of the retinoid family. Hence, this approach will be useful in discovering small molecules that could potentially be developed as combination therapies, preventing the acquisition of a drug-resistant subpopulation.
Project description:There are two major subtypes of human breast cancers: the luminal, estrogen, and progesterone receptor-positive, cytokeratin 18-positive (ER(+)PR(+)CK18(+)) subtype, and the basal ER(-)PR(-)CK18(-)CK5(+) subtype. Tumor-initiating cells (CD44(+)) have been described for human breast cancers; whether these are common to the two subtypes is unknown. We have identified a rare population of cells that are both CD44(+) and ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) in luminal-like ER(+)PR(+) T47D human breast tumor xenografts. The tumor-isolated CD44(+) cell fraction was highly enriched for clonogenic (in vitro culture) and tumorigenic (in vivo reimplantation) cells compared with the CD44(-) cell fraction. Rare ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) cells were present within CD44(+)-derived colonies. Tumor-isolated cells placed in minimal media also contained rare ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) cells at early time points (<10 cells); however, this population did not expand with increasing colony size. The number of ER(+)PR(+)CK5(-) cells, conversely, increased linearly with colony growth. Similary, tumors originating in vivo from CD44(+) cells contained a rare static ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) population, an intermediate ER(-)PR(-)CK5(-) population, and an expanding ER(+)PR(+)CK5(-) population. Putative ER(+)PR(+)CK5(+) transitional cells could be seen only in colonies or tumors treated with a progestin. We propose that luminal ER(+)PR(+) breast tumors contain a minor ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) population that has the capacity to generate the majority of ER(+)PR(+)CK18(+)CK5(-) cells. Luminal breast cancers are treated with endocrine therapies that target ER. The rare ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) progenitor cells would escape such treatments and survive to repopulate the tumor.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>Luminal, estrogen receptor-positive (ER(+)) breast cancers can metastasize but lie dormant for years before recurrences prove lethal. Understanding the roles of estrogen (E) or progestin (P) in development of luminal metastases or in arousal from dormancy is hindered by few preclinical models. We have developed such models.<h4>Methods</h4>Immunocompromised, ovariectomized (ovx'd) mice were intracardiac-injected with luminal or basal human breast cancer cells. Four lines were tested: luminal ER(+)PR(+) cytokeratin 5-negative (CK5(-)) E3 and MCF-7 cells, basal ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) estrogen withdrawn-line 8 (EWD8) cells, and basal ER(-)PR(-)CK5(-) MDA-MB-231 cells. Development of micrometastases or macrometastases was quantified in ovx'd mice and in mice supplemented with E or P or both. Metastatic deposits were analyzed by immunohistochemistry for luminal, basal, and proliferation markers.<h4>Results</h4>ER(-)PR(-) cells generated macrometastases in multiple organs in the absence or presence of hormones. By contrast, ovx'd mice injected with ER(+)PR(+) cells appeared to be metastases-free until they were supplemented with E or E+P. Furthermore, unlike parental ER(+)PR(+)CK5(-) cells, luminal metastases were heterogeneous, containing a significant (6% to 30%) proportion of non-proliferative ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) cells that would be chemotherapy-resistant. Additionally, because these cells lack receptors, they would also be endocrine therapy-resistant. With regard to ovx'd control mice injected with ER(+)PR(+) cells that appeared to be metastases-free, systematic pathologic analysis of organs showed that some harbor a reservoir of dormant micrometastases that are ER(+) but PR(-). Such cells may also be endocrine therapy- and chemotherapy-resistant. Their emergence as macrometastases can be triggered by E or E+P restoration.<h4>Conclusions</h4>We conclude that hormones promote development of multi-organ macrometastases in luminal disease. The metastases display a disturbing heterogeneity, containing newly emergent ER(-)PR(-) subpopulations that would be resistant to endocrine therapy and chemotherapy. Similar cells are found in luminal metastases of patients. Furthermore, lack of hormones is not protective. While no overt metastases form in ovx'd mice, luminal tumor cells can seed distant organs, where they remain dormant as micrometastases and sheltered from therapies but arousable by hormone repletion. This has implications for breast cancer survivors or women with occult disease who are prescribed hormones for contraception or replacement purposes.
Project description:The female hormone progesterone (P4) promotes the expansion of stem-like cancer cells in estrogen receptor (ER)- and progesterone receptor (PR)-positive breast tumors. The expanded tumor cells lose expression of ER and PR, express the tumor-initiating marker CD44, the progenitor marker cytokeratin 5 (CK5) and are more resistant to standard endocrine and chemotherapies. The mechanisms underlying this hormone-stimulated reprogramming have remained largely unknown. In the present study, we investigated the role of microRNAs in progestin-mediated expansion of this dedifferentiated tumor cell population. We demonstrate that P4 rapidly downregulates miR-29 family members, particularly in the CD44(+) cell population. Downregulation of miR-29 members potentiates the expansion of CK5(+) and CD44(+) cells in response to progestins, and results in increased stem-like properties in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrate that miR-29 directly targets Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4), a transcription factor required for the reprogramming of differentiated cells to pluripotent stem cells, and for the maintenance of breast cancer stem cells. These results reveal a novel mechanism, whereby progestins increase the stem cell-like population in hormone-responsive breast cancers, by decreasing miR-29 to augment PR-mediated upregulation of KLF4. Elucidating the mechanisms whereby hormones mediate the expansion of stem-like cells furthers our understanding of the progression of hormone-responsive breast cancers.
Project description:Overexpression of the progesterone receptor (PR) isoform A (PR-A) is a negative prognosticator for estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer but in vitro studies have implicated PR-B in progestin-induced invasiveness. As estrogen is known to suppress invasiveness and tumor progression and as the in vitro studies were conducted in models that either lacked ER or excluded estrogen, we examined the role of PR isoforms in the context of estrogen signaling. Estrogen (< 0.01nM) strongly suppressed invasiveness in various ER+ model cell lines. At low (< 1nM) concentrations, progestins completely abrogated inhibition of invasiveness by estrogen. It was only in a higher (5 nM - 50 nM) concentration range that progestins induced invasiveness in the absence of estrogen. The ability of low dose progestins to rescue invasiveness from estrogen regulation was exclusively mediated by PR-A, whereas PR-B mediated the estrogen-independent component of progestin-induced invasiveness. Overexpression of PR-A lowered the progestin concentration needed to completely rescue invasiveness. Among estrogen-regulated genes, progestin/PR-A counter-regulated a distinctive subset, including breast tumor progression genes (e.g., HES1, PRKCH, ELF5, TM4SF1), leading to invasiveness. In this manner, at relatively low hormone concentrations (corresponding to follicular stage and post-menopausal breast tissue or plasma levels), progesterone influences breast cancer cell invasiveness by rescuing it from estrogen regulation via PR-A, whereas at higher concentrations the hormone also induces invasiveness independent of estrogen signaling, through PR-B. The findings point to a direct functional link between PR-A and progression of luminal breast cancer in the context of the entire range of pre- and post-menopausal plasma and breast tissue hormone levels.
Project description:Many Luminal breast cancers are heterogeneous, containing substantial numbers of estrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) receptor-negative cells among the ER+ PR+ ones. One such subpopulation we call "Luminobasal" is ER-, PR- and cytokeratin 5 (CK5)-positive. It is not targeted for treatment.To address the relationships between ER+PR+CK5- and ER-PR-CK5+ cells in Luminal cancers and tightly control their ratios we generated isogenic pure Luminal (pLUM) and pure Luminobasal (pLB) cells from the same parental Luminal human breast cancer cell line. We used high-throughput screening to identify pLB-specific drugs and examined their efficacy alone and in combination with hormone therapy in mixed-cell tumor models.We show that pLUM and MCF7 cells suppress proliferation of pLB cells in mixed-cell 3D colonies in vitro and that pLUM cells suppress growth of pLB cells in mixed-cell xenografts in vivo. High-throughput screening of 89 FDA-approved oncology drugs shows that pLB cells are sensitive to monotherapy with the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors gefitinib and erlotinib. By exploiting mixed-cell 3D colonies and mixed-cell solid mouse tumors models we demonstrate that combination therapy with gefitinib plus the anti-estrogen fulvestrant constitutes a robust treatment strategy.We propose that response to combination endocrine/EGFR inhibitor therapies in heterogeneous Luminal cancers may improve long-term survival in patients whose primary tumors have been preselected for appropriate biomarkers, including ER, PR, CK5 and EGFR.
Project description:Estrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancers often contain subpopulations of cells that express the intermediate filament protein cytokeratin 5 (CK5). CK5+ cells are enriched in cancer stem cell (CSC) properties, can be induced by progestins, and predict poor prognosis in ER+ breast cancer. We established through CK5 knockout and overexpression in ER+ breast cancer cell lines that CK5 is important for tumorsphere formation, prompting us to speculate that CK5 has regulatory activity in CSCs. To interrogate CK5 interacting proteins that may be functionally cooperative, we performed immunoprecipitation-mass spectrometry for CK5 in ER+ breast cancer cells. Focusing on proteins with signaling activity, we identified ?-catenin, a key transcription factor of the Wnt signaling pathway and cell adhesion molecule, as a CK5 interactor, which we confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation in several breast cancer models. We interrogated the dual functions of ?-catenin in relation to CK5. Knockout or knockdown of CK5 ablated ?-catenin transcriptional activity in response to progestins and Wnt stimuli. Conversely, CK5 induced by progestins or overexpression was sufficient to promote the loss of ?-catenin at the cell membrane and total E-cadherin loss. A breast cancer patient-derived xenograft showed similar loss of membrane ?-catenin and E-cadherin in CK5+ but not intratumoral CK5- cells and single-cell RNA sequencing found the top enriched pathways in the CK5+ cell cluster were cell junction remodeling and signaling. This report highlights that CK5 actively remodels cell morphology and that blockade of CK5-?-catenin interaction may reverse the detrimental properties of CK5+ breast cancer cells.
Project description:Progesterone (P4) has emerged as an important hormone-regulating mammary stem cell (MaSC) populations. In breast cancer, P4 and synthetic analogs increase the number of stem-like cells within luminal estrogen receptor (ER)- and progesterone receptor (PR)-positive breast cancers. These cells gain expression of de-differentiated cell markers CD44 and cytokeratin 5 (CK5), lose luminal markers ER and PR, and are more therapy resistant. We previously described that P4 downregulation of microRNA (miR)-29a contributes to the expansion of CD44(high) and CK5(+) cells. Here we investigated P4 downregulation of miR-141, a member of the miR-200 family of tumor suppressors, in facilitating an increase in stem-like breast cancer cells. miR-141 was the sole member of the miR-200 family P4-downregulated at the mature miRNA level in luminal breast cancer cell lines. Stable inhibition of miR-141 alone increased the CD44(high) population, and potentiated P4-mediated increases in both CD44(high) and CK5(+) cells. Loss of miR-141 enhanced both mammosphere formation and tumor initiation. miR-141 directly targeted both PR and signal transducer and activator of transcription 5A (Stat5a), transcription factors important for MaSC expansion. miR-141 depletion increased PR protein levels, even in cell lines where PR expression is estrogen dependent. Stat5a suppression via small interfering RNA or a small-molecule inhibitor reduced the P4-dependent increase in CK5(+) and CD44(high) cells. These data support a mechanism by which P4-triggered loss of miR-141 facilitates breast cancer cell de-differentiation through deregulation of PR and Stat5a, two transcription factors important for controlling mammary cell fate.
Project description:Estrogen receptor-positive, progesterone receptor-negative, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative (ER+PR-HER2-) breast cancer comprise a special type of breast cancer that constitutes ~10% of all breast cancer patients. ER+PR-HER2- tumor benefits less from endocrine therapy, while its genomic features remain elusive. In this study, we systematically assessed the multiomic landscape and endocrine responsiveness of ER+PR-HER2- breast cancer. <b>Methods:</b> This study incorporated five cohorts. The first and second cohorts were from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database (n=130,856) and Molecular Taxonomy of Breast Cancer International Consortium (n=1,055) for analyzing survival outcomes and endocrine responsiveness. The third cohort was from The Cancer Genome Atlas (n=630) for multiomic analysis and endocrine-resistant subgroup exploration. The fourth cohort, from the MD Anderson database (n=92), was employed to assist gene selection. The fifth cohort was a prospective observational cohort from Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center (n=245) that was utilized to validate the gene-defined subgroup by immunohistochemistry (IHC). <b>Results:</b> Clinically, ER+PR-HER2- tumors showed lower endocrine responsiveness than did ER+PR+HER2- tumors. Genomically, copy number loss or promoter methylation of PR genes occurred in 75% of ER+PR-HER2- tumors, collectively explaining PR loss. ER+PR-HER2- tumors had higher <i>TP53</i> (30.3% vs. 17.0%) and lower <i>PIK3CA</i> mutation rates (25.8% vs. 42.7%) and exhibited more <i>ZNF703</i> (21.5% vs. 13.6%) and <i>RPS6KB1</i> (18.5% vs. 7.8%) amplification events than ER+PR+HER2- tumors. Among ER+PR-HER2- tumors, nearly 20% were of the PAM50-defined non-luminal-like subgroup and manifested lower endocrine sensitivity scores and enriched biosynthesis, metabolism and DNA replication pathways. We further identified the non-luminal-like subgroup using three IHC markers, GATA3, CK5, and EGFR. These IHC-defined non-luminal-like (GATA3-negative, CK5-positive and/or EGFR-positive) tumors received limited benefit from adjuvant endocrine therapy. <b>Conclusion:</b> ER+PR-HER2- breast cancer consists of clinically and genomically distinct groups that may require different treatment strategies. The non-luminal-like subgroup was associated with reduced benefit from endocrine therapy.
Project description:Luminal breast cancers express estrogen (ER) and/or progesterone (PR) receptors and respond to hormone therapies. Basal-like "triple negative" cancers lack steroid receptors but are cytokeratin (CK) 5-positive and require chemotherapy. Here we show that more than half of primary ER(+)PR(+) breast cancers contain an ER(-)PR(-)CK5(+) "luminobasal" subpopulation exceeding 1% of cells. Starting from ER(+)PR(+) luminal cell lines, we generated lines with varying luminal to luminobasal cell ratios and studied their molecular and biological properties. In luminal disease, luminobasal cells expand in response to antiestrogen or estrogen withdrawal therapies. The phenotype and gene signature of the hormone-resistant cells matches that of clinical triple negative basal-like and claudin-low disease. Luminobasal cell expansion in response to hormone therapies is regulated by Notch1 signaling and can be blocked by ?-secretase inhibitors. Our data establish a previously unrecognized plasticity of ER(+)PR(+) luminal breast cancers that, without genetic manipulation, mobilizes outgrowth of hormone-resistant basal-like disease in response to treatment. This undesirable outcome can be prevented by combining endocrine therapies with Notch inhibition.