Genetic reconstitution of tumorigenesis in primary intestinal cells.
ABSTRACT: Animal models for human colorectal cancer recapitulate multistep carcinogenesis that is typically initiated by activation of the Wnt pathway. Although potential roles of both genetic and environmental modifiers have been extensively investigated in vivo, it remains elusive whether epithelial cells definitely require interaction with stromal cells or microflora for tumor development. Here we show that tumor development could be simply induced independently of intestinal microenvironment, even with WT murine primary intestinal cells alone. We developed an efficient method for lentiviral transduction of intestinal organoids in 3D culture. Despite seemingly antiproliferative effects by knockdown of adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), we managed to reproducibly induce APC-inactivated intestinal organoids. As predicted, these organoids were constitutively active in the Wnt signaling pathway and proved tumorigenic when injected into nude mice, yielding highly proliferative tubular epithelial glands accompanied by prominent stromal tissue. Consistent with cellular transformation, tumor-derived epithelial cells acquired sphere formation potential, gave rise to secondary tumors on retransplantation, and highly expressed cancer stem cell markers. Inactivation of p53 or phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted from chromosome 10, or activation of Kras, promoted tumor development only in the context of APC suppression, consistent with earlier genetic studies. These findings clearly indicated that genetic cooperation for intestinal tumorigenesis could be essentially recapitulated in intestinal organoids without generating gene-modified mice. Taken together, this in vitro model for colon cancer described herein could potentially provide unique opportunities for carcinogenesis studies by serving as a substitute or complement to the currently standard approaches.
Project description:Paneth cells (PCs) are small intestinal epithelial cells that secrete antimicrobial peptides and growth factors, such as Wnt ligands. Intriguingly, the context in which PC-derived Wnt secretion is relevant in vivo remains unknown as intestinal epithelial ablation of Wnt does not affect homeostatic proliferation or restitution after irradiation injury. Considering the importance of growth factors in tumor development, we explored here the role of PCs in intestinal carcinogenesis using a genetic model of PC depletion through conditional expression of diphtheria toxin-? subunit. PC depletion in <i>Apc</i> <sup><i>Min</i></sup> mice impaired adenoma development in the small intestine and led to decreased Wnt3 expression in small bowel adenomas. To determine if PC-derived Wnt3 was required for adenoma development, we examined tumor formation after PC-specific ablation of <i>Wnt3</i> We found that this was sufficient to decrease small intestinal adenoma formation; moreover, organoids derived from these tumors displayed slower growth capacity. Overall, we report that PC-derived Wnt3 is required to sustain early tumorigenesis in the small bowel and identify a clear role for PC-derived Wnt production in intestinal pathology.
Project description:Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) has been shown to play a role in intestinal regeneration and colitis-associated colon carcinogenesis. However, the role of Stat3 in the Wnt-driven sporadic intestinal tumorigenesis remains poorly understood. We examined the roles of Stat3 in intestinal regeneration and tumorigenesis by organoid culture experiments using Stat3<sup>∆IEC</sup> mouse-derived intestinal epithelial cells in which Stat3 was disrupted. The regeneration of intestinal mucosa and organoid formation were significantly suppressed by Stat3 disruption, which was compensated by Wnt activation. Furthermore, once organoids were recovered, Stat3 was no longer required for organoid growth. These results indicate that Stat3 and Wnt signaling cooperatively protect epithelial cells at the early phase of intestinal regeneration. In contrast, intestinal tumorigenesis was not suppressed by Stat3 disruption in adenomatous polyposis coli ( Apc) <sup>Δ716</sup> and Apc<sup>∆716</sup> Tgfbr2<sup>∆IEC</sup> mice, thus indicating that Stat3 is not required for Wnt activation-driven intestinal tumorigenesis. Mechanistically, Itga5 and Itga6 were down-regulated by Stat3 disruption, and focal adhesion kinase (FAK) activation was also suppressed. Notably, FAK inhibitor suppressed the organoid formation of wild-type epithelial cells. These results indicate that Stat3 is indispensable for the survival of epithelial cells through the activation of integrin signaling and the downstream FAK pathway; however, it is not required for the Wnt signaling-activated normal or tumor epithelial cells.-Oshima, H., Kok, S.-Y., Nakayama, M., Murakami, K., Voon, D. C.-C., Kimura, T., Oshima, M. Stat3 is indispensable for damage-induced crypt regeneration but not for Wnt-driven intestinal tumorigenesis.
Project description:BRAF<sup>V600E</sup> confers poor prognosis and is associated with a distinct subtype of colorectal cancer (CRC). Little is known, however, about the genetic events driving the initiation and progression of BRAF<sup>V600E</sup> mutant CRCs. Recent genetic analyses of CRCs indicate that BRAF<sup>V600E</sup> often coexists with alterations in the WNT- and p53 pathways, but their cooperation remains ill-defined. Therefore, we systematically compared small and large intestinal organoids from mice harboring conditional Braf<sup>floxV600E</sup>, Trp53<sup>LSL-R172H</sup>, and/or Apc<sup>flox/flox</sup> alleles. Using these isogenic models, we observe tissue-specific differences toward sudden BRAF<sup>V600E</sup> expression, which can be attributed to different ERK-pathway ground states in small and large intestinal crypts. BRAF<sup>V600E</sup> alone causes transient proliferation and suppresses epithelial organization, followed by organoid disintegration. Moreover, BRAF<sup>V600E</sup> induces a fetal-like dedifferentiation transcriptional program in colonic organoids, which resembles human BRAF<sup>V600E</sup>-driven CRC. Co-expression of p53<sup>R172H</sup> delays organoid disintegration, confers anchorage-independent growth, and induces invasive properties. Interestingly, p53<sup>R172H</sup> cooperates with BRAF<sup>V600E</sup> to modulate the abundance of transcripts linked to carcinogenesis, in particular within colonic organoids. Remarkably, WNT-pathway activation by Apc deletion fully protects organoids against BRAF<sup>V600E</sup>-induced disintegration and confers growth/niche factor independence. Still, Apc-deficient BRAF<sup>V600E</sup>-mutant organoids remain sensitive toward the MEK inhibitor trametinib, albeit p53<sup>R172H</sup> confers partial resistance against this clinically relevant compound. In summary, our systematic comparison of the response of small and large intestinal organoids to oncogenic alterations suggests colonic organoids to be better suited to model the human situation. In addition, our work on BRAF-, p53-, and WNT-pathway mutations provides new insights into their cooperation and for the design of targeted therapies.
Project description:Many cancers display increased NF-?B activity, and NF-?B inhibition is known to diminish tumor development in multiple mouse models, supporting an important role of NF-?B in carcinogenesis. NF-?B activation in premalignant or cancer cells is believed to promote tumor development mainly by protecting these cells from apoptosis. However, it remains unclear to what extent NF-?B activation exhibits additional protumorigenic functions in premalignant cells that could be sufficient to induce spontaneous tumor development. Here we show that expression of constitutively active I?B kinase 2 (IKK2ca) in mouse intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) induced spontaneous tumors in aged mice and also strongly enhanced chemical- and Apc mutation-mediated carcinogenesis. IECs expressing IKK2ca displayed altered Wnt signaling and increased proliferation and elevated expression of genes encoding intestinal stem cell-associated factors including Ascl2, Olfm4, DLK1, and Bmi-1, indicating that increased IKK2/NF-?B activation synergized with Wnt signaling to drive intestinal tumorigenesis. Moreover, IECs expressing IKK2ca produced cytokines and chemokines that induced the recruitment of myeloid cells and activated stromal fibroblasts to become myofibroblasts, thus creating a tumor-promoting microenvironment. Taken together, our results show that constitutively increased activation of IKK2/NF-?B signaling in the intestinal epithelium is sufficient to induce the full spectrum of cell-intrinsic and stromal alterations required for intestinal tumorigenesis.
Project description:We explored the connection between C/EBP? (CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein ?) and Wnt signaling in gut homeostasis and carcinogenesis. C/EBP? was expressed in human and murine intestinal epithelia in the transit-amplifying region of the crypts and was absent in intestinal stem cells and Paneth cells with activated Wnt signaling. In human colorectal cancer and murine APCMin/+ polyps, C/EBP? was absent in the nuclear ?-catenin-positive tumor cells. In chemically induced intestinal carcinogenesis, C/EBP? KO in murine gut epithelia increased tumor volume. C/EBP? deletion extended the S-phase cell zone in intestinal organoids and activated typical proliferation gene expression signatures, including that of Wnt target genes. Genetic activation of ?-catenin in organoids attenuated C/EBP? expression, and ectopic C/EBP? expression in HCT116 cells abrogated proliferation. C/EBP? expression accompanied differentiation of the colon cancer cell line Caco-2, whereas ?-catenin stabilization suppressed C/EBP?. These data suggest homeostatic and oncogenic suppressor functions of C/EBP? in the gut by restricting Wnt signaling.
Project description:<h4>Background & aims</h4>Aspirin reduces colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality. Understanding the biology responsible for this protective effect is key to developing biomarker-led approaches for rational clinical use. Wnt signaling drives CRC development from initiation to progression through regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer stem cell populations. Here, we investigated whether aspirin can rescue these proinvasive phenotypes associated with CRC progression in Wnt-driven human and mouse intestinal organoids.<h4>Methods</h4>We evaluated aspirin-mediated effects on phenotype and stem cell markers in intestinal organoids derived from mouse (Apc<sup>Min/+</sup> and Apc<sup>flox/flox</sup>) and human familial adenomatous polyposis patients. CRC cell lines (HCT116 and Colo205) were used to study effects on motility, invasion, Wnt signaling, and EMT.<h4>Results</h4>Aspirin rescues the Wnt-driven cystic organoid phenotype by promoting budding in mouse and human Apc deficient organoids, which is paralleled by decreased stem cell marker expression. Aspirin-mediated Wnt inhibition in Apc<sup>Min/+</sup> mice is associated with EMT inhibition and decreased cell migration, invasion, and motility in CRC cell lines. Chemical Wnt activation induces EMT and stem-like alterations in CRC cells, which are rescued by aspirin. Aspirin increases expression of the Wnt antagonist Dickkopf-1 in CRC cells and organoids derived from familial adenomatous polyposis patients, which contributes to EMT and cancer stem cell inhibition.<h4>Conclusions</h4>We provide evidence of phenotypic biomarkers of response to aspirin with an increased epithelial and reduced stem-like state mediated by an increase in Dickkopf-1. This highlights a novel mechanism of aspirin-mediated Wnt inhibition and potential phenotypic and molecular biomarkers for trials.
Project description:Intestinal epithelial stem cells are highly sensitive to differentiation induced by endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Colorectal cancer develops from mutated intestinal epithelial stem cells. The most frequent initiating mutation occurs in Apc, which results in hyperactivated Wnt signalling. This causes hyperproliferation and reduced sensitivity to chemotherapy, but whether these mutated stem cells are sensitive to ER stress induced differentiation remains unknown. Here we examined this by generating mice in which both Apc and ER stress repressor chaperone Grp78 can be conditionally deleted from the intestinal epithelium. For molecular studies, we used intestinal organoids derived from these mice. Homozygous loss of Apc alone resulted in crypt elongation, activation of the Wnt signature and accumulation of intestinal epithelial stem cells, as expected. This phenotype was however completely rescued on activation of ER stress by additional deletion of Grp78. In these Apc-Grp78 double mutant animals, stem cells were rapidly lost and repopulation occurred by non-mutant cells that had escaped recombination, suggesting that Apc-Grp78 double mutant stem cells had lost self-renewal capacity. Although in Apc-Grp78 double mutant mice the Wnt signature was lost, these intestines exhibited ubiquitous epithelial presence of nuclear β-catenin. This suggests that ER stress interferes with Wnt signalling downstream of nuclear β-catenin. In conclusion, our findings indicate that ER stress signalling results in loss of Apc mutated intestinal epithelial stem cells by interference with the Wnt signature. In contrast to many known inhibitors of Wnt signalling, ER stress acts downstream of β-catenin. Therefore, ER stress poses a promising target in colorectal cancers, which develop as a result of Wnt activating mutations.
Project description:Wnt/b-catenin signaling supports intestinal homeostasis by regulating proliferation in the crypt. Multiple Wnts are expressed in Paneth as well as other intestinal epithelial and stromal cells. Ex vivo, Wnts secreted by Paneth cells can support intestinal stem cells when Wnt signaling is enhanced with supplemental R-Spondin 1 (RSPO1). However, in vivo, the source of Wnts in the stem cell niche is less clear. Genetic ablation of Porcn, an endoplasmic reticulum resident O-acyltransferase that is essential for the secretion and activity of all vertebrate Wnts, confirmed the role of intestinal epithelial Wnts in ex vivo culture. Unexpectedly, mice lacking epithelial Wnt activity (PorcnDel/Villin-Cre mice) had normal intestinal proliferation and differentiation, as well as successful regeneration after radiation injury, indicating epithelial Wnts are dispensable for these processes. Consistent with a key role for stroma in the crypt niche, intestinal stromal cells endogenously expressing Wnts and Rspo3 support the growth of PorcnDel organoids ex vivo without RSPO1 supplementation. Conversely, increasing pharmacologic PORCN inhibition, affecting both stroma and epithelium, reduced Lgr5 intestinal stem cells, inhibited recovery from radiation injury, and at the highest dose fully blocked intestinal proliferation. We conclude that epithelial Wnts are dispensable, and that stromal production of Wnts can fully support normal murine intestinal homeostasis. Microarray was performed on samples enriched for stromal or epithelial cells from small intestine from Porcn(Del)/Villin-Cre and Porcn(WT)/Villin-Cre male C57Bl/6 mice.
Project description:Genetic deletion or pharmacological inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 abrogates intestinal adenoma development at early stages of colorectal carcinogenesis. COX-2 is localised to stromal cells (predominantly macrophages) in human and mouse intestinal adenomas. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that paracrine Cox-2-mediated signalling from macrophages drives adenoma growth and progression in vivo in the Apc <sup>Min/+</sup> mouse model of intestinal tumorigenesis. Using a transgenic C57Bl/6 mouse model of Cox-2 over-expression driven by the chicken lysozyme locus (cLys-Cox-2), which directs integration site-independent, copy number-dependent transgene expression restricted to macrophages, we demonstrated that stromal macrophage Cox-2 in colorectal (but not small intestinal) adenomas from cLys-Cox-2 x Apc <sup>Min/+</sup> mice was associated with significantly increased tumour size (P?=?0.025) and multiplicity (P?=?0.025), compared with control Apc <sup>Min/+</sup> mice. Transgenic macrophage Cox-2 expression was associated with increased dysplasia, epithelial cell Cox-2 expression and submucosal tumour invasion, as well as increased nuclear ?-catenin translocation in dysplastic epithelial cells. In vitro studies confirmed that paracrine macrophage Cox-2 signalling drives catenin-related transcription in intestinal epithelial cells. Paracrine macrophage Cox-2 activity drives growth and progression of Apc <sup>Min/+</sup> mouse colonic adenomas, linked to increased epithelial cell ?-catenin dysregulation. Stromal cell (macrophage) gene regulation and signalling represent valid targets for chemoprevention of colorectal cancer.
Project description:Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) is a tumor-suppressing protein whose inactivation triggers the formation of colorectal polyps. Numerous studies using cell lines or genetically engineered mice have revealed its role in suppressing Wnt/?-catenin signaling pathway and regulating cell proliferation and differentiation. Here, we performed genetic analyses of APC using a three-dimensional organoid culture of mouse colon epithelia, which enables the detailed examination of epithelial properties. Analyses of Apc-knockout colon organoids not only confirmed the importance of APC in suppressing Wnt/?-catenin signaling and regulating cell differentiation, but also revealed several novel features: a significant decrease in proliferating speed and an increase in cross-sectional area of cells. Moreover, we found a significant number of lysozyme-positive Paneth-like cells, which were never observed in wild-type colon tissues or organoids, but have been reported to emerge in colon cancers. Therefore, APC autonomously suppresses ectopic differentiation into lysozyme-positive cells, specifically in the colon epithelia. Colon organoids would be an ideal material to investigate the molecular mechanism and biological importance of the ectopic differentiation associated with cancer development.