Numb regulates acinar cell dedifferentiation and survival during pancreatic damage and acinar-to-ductal metaplasia.
ABSTRACT: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is a leading cause of cancer-related death. Through the process of acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM), pancreatic acinar cells give rise to pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN), the most common precursor of PDA. However, even when Kras is activated in a majority of acinar cells, ADM and subsequent development of PanINs is inefficient in the absence of additional stresses. Numb regulates cell junctions, integrins, and the activity of embryonic signaling pathways; therefore, we investigated its effects on acinar cell dedifferentiation, regeneration, and metaplasia.We used mouse models of pancreatic regeneration and PDA as well as mice with loss-of-function alleles of Numb (p48Cre/p48Cre(ER);Numb(f/f) and p48Cre/p48Cre(ER);Kras(G12D);Numb(f/f) mice) to study the roles of Numb in pancreatic regeneration and ADM.Loss of Numb resulted in premature dedifferentiation of acinar cells in response to injury due to administration of the cholecystokinin analogue cerulein and interfered with acinar cell regeneration. Numb was found to regulate multiple signaling pathways in acinar cells during cerulein-induced pancreatitis. Disruption of Numb accelerated and destabilized ADM in the context of oncogenic Kras (in p48Cre;Kras(G12D);Numb(f/f) and p48Cre(ER);Kras(G12D);Numb(f/f) mice).Numb is an important regulator of acinar cell differentiation and viability during metaplasia. In mice with pancreatitis or pancreatic injury, elimination of Numb causes dedifferentiated acinar cells to undergo apoptosis, and this is not mitigated by oncogenic Kras.
Project description:Cellular plasticity in adult organs is involved in both regeneration and carcinogenesis. WT mouse acinar cells rapidly regenerate following injury that mimics acute pancreatitis, a process characterized by transient reactivation of pathways involved in embryonic pancreatic development. In contrast, such injury promotes the development of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) precursor lesions in mice expressing a constitutively active form of the GTPase, Kras, in the exocrine pancreas. The molecular environment that mediates acinar regeneration versus the development of PDA precursor lesions is poorly understood. Here, we used genetically engineered mice to demonstrate that mutant Kras promotes acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM) and pancreatic cancer precursor lesion formation by blocking acinar regeneration following acute pancreatitis. Our results indicate that beta-catenin is required for efficient acinar regeneration. In addition, canonical beta-catenin signaling, a pathway known to regulate embryonic acinar development, is activated following acute pancreatitis. This regeneration-associated activation of beta-catenin signaling was not observed during the initiation of Kras-induced acinar-to-ductal reprogramming. Furthermore, stabilized beta-catenin signaling antagonized the ability of Kras to reprogram acini into PDA preneoplastic precursors. Therefore, these results suggest that beta-catenin signaling is a critical determinant of acinar plasticity and that it is inhibited during Kras-induced fate decisions that specify PDA precursors, highlighting the importance of temporal regulation of embryonic signaling pathways in the development of neoplastic cell fates.
Project description:New drug targets are urgently needed for the treatment of patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA). Nearly all PDAs contain oncogenic mutations in the KRAS gene. Pharmacological inhibition of KRAS has been unsuccessful, leading to a focus on downstream effectors that are more easily targeted with small molecule inhibitors. We investigated the contributions of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) to KRAS-initiated tumorigenesis.Tumorigenesis was measured in the Kras(G12D/+);Ptf1a(Cre/+) mouse model of PDA; these mice were crossed with mice with pancreas-specific disruption of genes encoding PI3K p110? (Pik3ca), p110? (Pik3cb), or RAC1 (Rac1). Pancreatitis was induced with 5 daily intraperitoneal injections of cerulein. Pancreata and primary acinar cells were isolated; acinar cells were incubated with an inhibitor of p110? (PIK75) followed by a broad-spectrum PI3K inhibitor (GDC0941). PDA cell lines (NB490 and MiaPaCa2) were incubated with PIK75 followed by GDC0941. Tissues and cells were analyzed by histology, immunohistochemistry, quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction, and immunofluorescence analyses for factors involved in the PI3K signaling pathway. We also examined human pancreas tissue microarrays for levels of p110? and other PI3K pathway components.Pancreas-specific disruption of Pik3ca or Rac1, but not Pik3cb, prevented the development of pancreatic tumors in Kras(G12D/+);Ptf1a(Cre/+) mice. Loss of transformation was independent of AKT regulation. Preneoplastic ductal metaplasia developed in mice lacking pancreatic p110? but regressed. Levels of activated and total RAC1 were higher in pancreatic tissues from Kras(G12D/+);Ptf1a(Cre/+) mice compared with controls. Loss of p110? reduced RAC1 activity and expression in these tissues. p110? was required for the up-regulation and activity of RAC guanine exchange factors during tumorigenesis. Levels of p110? and RAC1 were increased in human pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias and PDAs compared with healthy pancreata.KRAS signaling, via p110? to activate RAC1, is required for transformation in Kras(G12D/+);Ptf1a(Cre/+) mice.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most lethal cancers owing to a number of characteristics including difficulty in establishing early diagnosis and the absence of effective therapeutic regimens. A large number of genetic alterations have been ascribed to PDAC with mutations in the KRAS2 proto-oncogene thought to be an early event in the progression of disease. Recent lineage-tracing studies have shown that acinar cells expressing mutant Kras(G12D) are induced to transdifferentiate, generating duct-like cells through a process known as acinar-ductal metaplasia (ADM). ADM lesions then convert to precancerous pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) that progresses to PDAC over time. Thus, understanding the earliest events involved in ADM/PanIN formation would provide much needed information on the molecular pathways that are instrumental in initiating this disease. As studying the transition of acinar cells to metaplastic ductal cells in vivo is complicated by analysis of the entire organ, an in vitro three dimensional (3D) culture system was used to model ADM outside the animal. Kras(G12D)-expressing acinar cells rapidly underwent ADM in 3D culture, forming ductal cysts that silenced acinar genes and activated duct genes, characteristics associated with in vivo ADM/PanIN lesions. Analysis of downstream KRAS signaling events established a critical importance for the Raf/MEK/ERK pathway in ADM induction. In addition, forced expression of the acinar-restricted transcription factor Mist1, which is critical to acinar cell organization, significantly attenuated Kras(G12D)-induced ADM/PanIN formation. These results suggest that maintaining MIST1 activity in Kras(G12D)-expressing acinar cells can partially mitigate the transformation activity of oncogenic KRAS. Future therapeutics that target both the MAPK pathway and Mist1 transcriptional networks may show promising efficacy in combating this deadly disease.
Project description:miRNA levels are altered in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), the most common and lethal pancreatic malignancy, and intact miRNA processing is essential for lineage specification during pancreatic development. However, the role of miRNA processing in PDA has not been explored. Here we study the role of miRNA biogenesis in PDA development by deleting the miRNA processing enzyme Dicer in a PDA mouse model driven by oncogenic Kras. We find that loss of Dicer accelerates Kras driven acinar dedifferentiation and acinar to ductal metaplasia (ADM), a process that has been shown to precede and promote the specification of PDA precursors. However, unconstrained ADM also displays high levels of apoptosis. Dicer loss does not accelerate development of Kras driven PDA precursors or PDA, but surprisingly, we observe that mouse PDA can develop without Dicer, although at the expense of proliferative capacity. Our data suggest that intact miRNA processing is involved in both constraining pro-tumorigenic changes in pancreatic differentiation as well as maintaining viability during PDA initiation.
Project description:Pancreatic exocrine cell plasticity can be observed during development, pancreatitis with subsequent regeneration, and also transformation. For example, acinar-ductal metaplasia (ADM) occurs during acute pancreatitis and might be viewed as a prelude to pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) development. To elucidate regulatory processes that overlap ductal development, ADM, and the progression of normal cells to PanIN lesions, we undertook a systematic approach to identify the Prrx1 paired homeodomain Prrx1 transcriptional factor as a highly regulated gene in these processes. Prrx1 annotates a subset of pancreatic ductal epithelial cells in Prrx1creER(T2)-IRES-GFP mice. Furthermore, sorted Prrx1(+) cells have the capacity to self-renew and expand during chronic pancreatitis. The two isoforms, Prrx1a and Prrx1b, regulate migration and invasion, respectively, in pancreatic cancer cells. In addition, Prrx1b is enriched in circulating pancreatic cells (Pdx1cre;LSL-Kras(G12D/+);p53(fl/+);R26YFP). Intriguingly, the Prrx1b isoform, which is also induced in ADM, binds the Sox9 promoter and positively regulates Sox9 expression. This suggests a new hierarchical scheme whereby a Prrx1-Sox9 axis may influence the emergence of acinar-ductal metaplasia and regeneration. Furthermore, our data provide a possible explanation of why pancreatic cancer is skewed toward a ductal fate.
Project description:Emerging evidence from mouse models suggests that mutant Kras can drive the development of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) precursors from acinar cells by enforcing ductal de-differentiation at the expense of acinar identity. Recently, human genome-wide association studies have identified NR5A2, a key regulator of acinar function, as a susceptibility locus for human PDA. We investigated the role of Nr5a2 in exocrine maintenance, regeneration and Kras driven neoplasia.To investigate the function of Nr5a2 in the pancreas, we generated mice with conditional pancreatic Nr5a2 deletion (PdxCre(late); Nr5a2(c/c)). Using this model, we evaluated acinar differentiation, regeneration after caerulein pancreatitis and Kras driven pancreatic neoplasia in the setting of Nr5a2 deletion.We show that Nr5a2 is not required for the development of the pancreatic acinar lineage but is important for maintenance of acinar identity. Nr5a2 deletion leads to destabilisation of the mature acinar differentiation state, acinar to ductal metaplasia and loss of regenerative capacity following acute caerulein pancreatitis. Loss of Nr5a2 also dramatically accelerates the development of oncogenic Kras driven acinar to ductal metaplasia and PDA precursor lesions.Nr5a2 is a key regulator of acinar plasticity. It is required for maintenance of acinar identity and re-establishing acinar fate during regeneration. Nr5a2 also constrains pancreatic neoplasia driven by oncogenic Kras, providing functional evidence supporting a potential role as a susceptibility gene for human PDA.
Project description:KRAS mutations are found in ?90% of human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC). However, mice genetically engineered to express Kras(G12D) from its endogenous locus develop PDACs only after a prolonged latency, indicating that other genetic events or pathway alterations are necessary for PDAC progression. The PTEN-controlled phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT signaling axis is dysregulated in later stages of PDAC. To better elucidate the role of PTEN/PI3K/AKT signaling in Kras(G12D)-induced PDAC development, we crossed Pten conditional knockout mice (Pten(lox/lox)) to mice with conditional activation of Kras(G12D). The resulting compound heterozygous mutant mice showed significantly accelerated development of acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM), malignant pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (mPanIN), and PDAC within a year. Moreover, all mice with Kras(G12D) activation and Pten homozygous deletion succumbed to cancer by 3 weeks of age. Our data support a dosage-dependent role for PTEN, and the resulting dysregulation of the PI3K/AKT signaling axis, in both PDAC initiation and progression, and shed additional light on the signaling mechanisms that lead to the development of ADM and subsequent mPanIN and pancreatic cancer.
Project description:Kras signaling via mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is highly up-regulated in pancreatic cancer cells. We investigated whether MAPK signaling is required for the initiation and maintenance of pancreatic carcinogenesis in mice.We studied the formation and maintenance of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanINs) in p48Cre; TetO-KrasG12D; Rosa26(rtTa-IRES-EGFP) (iKras*) mice and LSL-KrasG12D mice bred with p48Cre mice (KC). Mice were given oral PD325901, a small-molecule inhibitor of MEK1 and MEK2 (factors in the MAPK signaling pathway), along with injections of cerulein to induce pancreatitis. Other mice were given PD325901 only after PanINs developed. Pancreatic tissues were collected and evaluated using histologic, immunohistochemical, immunofluorescence, and electron microscopy analyses. Acinar cells were isolated from the tissues and the effects of MEK1 and 2 inhibitors were assessed.PD325901 prevented PanIN formation, but not pancreatitis, in iKras* and KC mice. In iKras* or KC mice given PD325901 at 5 weeks after PanINs developed, PanINs regressed and acinar tissue regenerated. The regression occurred through differentiation of the PanIN cells to acini, accompanied by re-expression of the acinar transcription factor Mist1.In iKras* and KC mice, MAPK signaling is required for the initiation and maintenance of pancreatic cancer precursor lesions. MAPK signaling promotes formation of PanINs by enabling dedifferentiation of acinar cells into duct-like cells that are susceptible to transformation.
Project description:Understanding the molecular mechanisms of tumor initiation has significant impact on early cancer detection and intervention. To define the role of KLF4 in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) initiation, we used molecular biological analyses and mouse models of klf4 gain- and loss-of-function and mutant Kras. KLF4 is upregulated in and required for acinar-to-ductal metaplasia. Klf4 ablation drastically attenuates the formation of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia induced by mutant Kras(G12D), whereas upregulation of KLF4 does the opposite. Mutant KRAS and cellular injuries induce KLF4 expression, and ectopic expression of KLF4 in acinar cells reduces acinar lineage- and induces ductal lineage-related marker expression. These results demonstrate that KLF4 induces ductal identity in PanIN initiation and may be a potential target for prevention of PDA initiation.
Project description:Preclinical studies have suggested that the pancreatic tumor microenvironment both inhibits and promotes tumor development and growth. Here we establish the role of stromal fibroblasts during acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM), an initiating event in pancreatic cancer formation. The transcription factor V-Ets avian erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homolog 2 (ETS2) was elevated in smooth muscle actin-positive fibroblasts in the stroma of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) patient tissue samples relative to normal pancreatic controls. LSL-Kras(G12D/+); LSL-Trp53(R172H/+); Pdx-1-Cre (KPC) mice showed that ETS2 expression initially increased in fibroblasts during ADM and remained elevated through progression to PDAC. Conditional ablation of Ets-2 in pancreatic fibroblasts in a Kras(G12D)-driven mouse ADM model decreased the amount of ADM events. ADMs from fibroblast Ets-2-deleted animals had reduced epithelial cell proliferation and increased apoptosis. Surprisingly, fibroblast Ets-2 deletion significantly altered immune cell infiltration into the stroma, with an increased CD8+ T-cell population, and decreased presence of regulatory T cells (Tregs), myeloid-derived suppressor cells, and mature macrophages. The mechanism involved ETS2-dependent chemokine ligand production in fibroblasts. ETS2 directly bound to regulatory sequences for Ccl3, Ccl4, Cxcl4, Cxcl5, and Cxcl10, a group of chemokines that act as potent mediators of immune cell recruitment. These results suggest an unappreciated role for ETS2 in fibroblasts in establishing an immune-suppressive microenvironment in response to oncogenic Kras(G12D) signaling during the initial stages of tumor development.