BET bromodomain protein inhibition is a therapeutic option for medulloblastoma.
ABSTRACT: Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor of childhood, and represents a significant clinical challenge in pediatric oncology, since overall survival currently remains under 70%. Patients with tumors overexpressing MYC or harboring a MYC oncogene amplification have an extremely poor prognosis. Pharmacologically inhibiting MYC expression may, thus, have clinical utility given its pathogenetic role in medulloblastoma. Recent studies using the selective small molecule BET inhibitor, JQ1, have identified BET bromodomain proteins, especially BRD4, as epigenetic regulatory factors for MYC and its targets. Targeting MYC expression by BET inhibition resulted in antitumoral effects in various cancers. Our aim here was to evaluate the efficacy of JQ1 against preclinical models for high-risk MYC-driven medulloblastoma. Treatment of medulloblastoma cell lines with JQ1 significantly reduced cell proliferation and preferentially induced apoptosis in cells expressing high levels of MYC. JQ1 treatment of medulloblastoma cell lines downregulated MYC expression and resulted in a transcriptional deregulation of MYC targets, and also significantly altered expression of genes involved in cell cycle progression and p53 signalling. JQ1 treatment prolonged the survival of mice harboring medulloblastoma xenografts and reduced the tumor burden in these mice. Our preclinical data provide evidence to pursue testing BET inhibitors, such as JQ1, as molecular targeted therapeutic options for patients with high-risk medulloblastomas overexpressing MYC or harboring MYC amplifications.
Project description:PURPOSE:MYC-amplified medulloblastomas are highly lethal tumors. Bromodomain and extraterminal (BET) bromodomain inhibition has recently been shown to suppress MYC-associated transcriptional activity in other cancers. The compound JQ1 inhibits BET bromodomain-containing proteins, including BRD4. Here, we investigate BET bromodomain targeting for the treatment of MYC-amplified medulloblastoma. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:We evaluated the effects of genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of BET bromodomains on proliferation, cell cycle, and apoptosis in established and newly generated patient- and genetically engineered mouse model (GEMM)-derived medulloblastoma cell lines and xenografts that harbored amplifications of MYC or MYCN. We also assessed the effect of JQ1 on MYC expression and global MYC-associated transcriptional activity. We assessed the in vivo efficacy of JQ1 in orthotopic xenografts established in immunocompromised mice. RESULTS:Treatment of MYC-amplified medulloblastoma cells with JQ1 decreased cell viability associated with arrest at G1 and apoptosis. We observed downregulation of MYC expression and confirmed the inhibition of MYC-associated transcriptional targets. The exogenous expression of MYC from a retroviral promoter reduced the effect of JQ1 on cell viability, suggesting that attenuated levels of MYC contribute to the functional effects of JQ1. JQ1 significantly prolonged the survival of orthotopic xenograft models of MYC-amplified medulloblastoma (P < 0.001). Xenografts harvested from mice after five doses of JQ1 had reduced the expression of MYC mRNA and a reduced proliferative index. CONCLUSION:JQ1 suppresses MYC expression and MYC-associated transcriptional activity in medulloblastomas, resulting in an overall decrease in medulloblastoma cell viability. These preclinical findings highlight the promise of BET bromodomain inhibitors as novel agents for MYC-amplified medulloblastoma.
Project description:Medulloblastoma is a pediatric brain tumor with a variable prognosis due to clinical and genomic heterogeneity. Among the 4 major genomic sub-groups, patients with MYC amplified tumors have a particularly poor prognosis despite therapy with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Targeting the MYC oncogene has traditionally been problematic. Here we report that MYC driven medulloblastoma can be targeted by inhibition of the bromodomain protein BRD4. We show that bromodomain inhibition with JQ1 restricts c-MYC driven transcriptional programs in medulloblastoma, suppresses medulloblastoma cell growth and induces a cell cycle arrest. Importantly JQ1 suppresses stem cell associated signaling in medulloblastoma cells and inhibits medulloblastoma tumor cell self-renewal. Additionally JQ1 also promotes senescence in medulloblastoma cells by activating cell cycle kinase inhibitors and inhibiting activity of E2F1. Furthermore BRD4 inhibition displayed an anti-proliferative, pro-senescence effect in a medulloblastoma model in vivo. In clinical samples we found that transcriptional programs suppressed by JQ1 are associated with adverse risk in medulloblastoma patients. Our work indicates that BRD4 inhibition attenuates stem cell signaling in MYC driven medulloblastoma and demonstrates the feasibility BET domain inhibition as a therapeutic approach in vivo.
Project description:Medulloblastomas comprise a heterogeneous group of tumours and can be subdivided into four molecular subgroups (WNT, SHH, Group 3 and Group 4) with distinct prognosis, biological behaviour and implications for targeted therapies. Few experimental models exist of the aggressive and poorly characterized Group 3 tumours. In order to establish a reproducible transplantable Group 3 medulloblastoma model for preclinical therapeutic studies, we acquired a patient-derived tumour sphere culture and inoculated low-passage spheres into the cerebellums of NOD-scid mice. Mice developed symptoms of brain tumours with a latency of 17-18 weeks. Neurosphere cultures were re-established and serially transplanted for 3 generations, with a negative correlation between tumour latency and numbers of injected cells. Xenografts replicated the phenotype of the primary tumour, including high degree of clustering in DNA methylation analysis, high proliferation, expression of tumour markers, MYC amplification and elevated MYC expression, and sensitivity to the MYC inhibitor JQ1. Xenografts maintained maintained expression of tumour-derived VEGFA and stromal-derived COX-2. VEGFA, COX-2 and c-Myc are highly expressed in Group 3 compared to other medulloblastoma subgroups, suggesting that these molecules are relevant therapeutic targets in Group 3 medulloblastoma.
Project description:Advances in the molecular biology of medulloblastoma revealed four genetically and clinically distinct subgroups. Group 3 medulloblastomas are characterized by frequent amplifications of the oncogene MYC, a high incidence of metastasis, and poor prognosis despite aggressive therapy. We investigated several potential small molecule inhibitors to target Group 3 medulloblastomas based on gene expression data using an in silico drug screen. The Connectivity Map (C-MAP) analysis identified piperlongumine as the top candidate drug for non-WNT medulloblastomas and the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor alsterpaullone as the compound predicted to have specific antitumor activity against Group 3 medulloblastomas. To validate our findings we used these inhibitors against established Group 3 medulloblastoma cell lines. The C-MAP predicted drugs reduced cell proliferation in vitro and increased survival in Group 3 medulloblastoma xenografts. Alsterpaullone had the highest efficacy in Group 3 medulloblastoma cells. Genomic profiling of Group 3 medulloblastoma cells treated with alsterpaullone confirmed inhibition of cell cycle-related genes, and down-regulation of MYC. Our results demonstrate the preclinical efficacy of using a targeted therapy approach for Group 3 medulloblastomas. Specifically, we provide rationale for advancing alsterpaullone as a targeted therapy in Group 3 medulloblastoma.
Project description:Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive neuroendocrine tumor of the skin currently with no cure. In this study, we have first demonstrated that c-Myc overexpression is common in MCC. By targeting c-Myc, bromodomain inhibitors have demonstrated antitumor efficacy in several preclinical human cancer models. Thus, we interrogated the role of c-Myc inhibition in MCC with c-Myc amplification by using the BET inhibitor JQ1. We have uncovered that c-Myc can be regulated by JQ1 in MCC cells with pathologic c-Myc activation. Moreover, JQ1 potently abrogates c-Myc expression in MCC cells and causes marked G1 cell-cycle arrest. Mechanistically, JQ1-induced cell-cycle arrest coincides with downregulation of cyclin D1 and upregulation of p21, p27, and p57, whereas JQ1 exerts no effect on apoptosis in MCC cells. Further knockdown of p21, p27, or p57 by shRNA partially protects cells from JQ1-induced cell-cycle arrest. In addition, c-Myc knockdown by shRNA generates significant cell-cycle arrest, suggesting that c-Myc overexpression plays a role in MCC pathogenesis. Most importantly, JQ1 significantly attenuates tumor growth in xenograft MCC mouse models. Our results provide initial evidence, indicating the potential clinical utility of BET protein inhibitors in the treatment of MCC with pathologic activation of c-Myc.
Project description:A highly aggressive subgroup of the pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma is characterized by overexpression of the proto-oncogene c-Myc, which encodes a transcription factor that normally maintains neural progenitor cells in an undifferentiated, proliferating state during embryonic development. Myc-driven medulloblastomas typically show a large-cell anaplastic (LCA) histological pattern, in which tumor cells display large, round nuclei with prominent nucleoli. This subgroup of medulloblastoma is therapeutically challenging because it is associated with a high rate of metastatic dissemination, which is a powerful predictor of short patient survival times. Genetically engineered mouse models have revealed important insights into the pathogenesis of medulloblastoma and served as preclinical testing platforms for new therapies. Here we report a new mouse model of Myc-driven medulloblastoma, in which tumors arise in situ after retroviral transfer and expression of Myc in Nestin-expressing neural progenitor cells in the cerebella of newborn mice. Tumor induction required concomitant loss of Tp53 or overexpression of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2. Like Myc-driven medulloblastomas in humans, the tumors induced in mice by Myc + Bcl-2 and Myc - Tp53 showed LCA cytoarchitecture and a high rate of metastatic dissemination to the spine. The fact that Myc - Tp53 tumors arose only in Tp53(-/-) mice, coupled with the inefficient germline transmission of the Tp53-null allele, made retroviral transfer of Myc + Bcl-2 a more practical method for generating LCA medulloblastomas. The high rate of spinal metastasis (87% of brain tumor-bearing mice) will be an asset for testing new therapies that target the most lethal aspect of medulloblastoma.
Project description:MYC-amplified medulloblastomas are highly lethal tumors. BET bromodomain inhibition was recently described to downregulate MYC-associated transcriptional activity in various cancer subtypes. To investigate whether JQ1, a BET bromodomain inhibitor is downregulation MYC and MYC-associated transcriptional activity, we performed global gene expression profiling of five medulloblastomas MYC-amplified patient-derived cell lines treated by JQ1 and the inactive form of JQ1. Five medulloblastomas patient-derived MYC-amplified cell lines were treated with the active and the inactive form of the drug (JQ1S or JQ1R, respectively, 1μM for 24 hours) followed by RNA extraction and hybridization on Affymetrix microarrays
Project description:Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) is an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's B-cell lymphoma associated with infection by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV). (+)-JQ1 and I-BET151 are two recently described novel small-molecule inhibitors of BET bromodomain chromatin-associated proteins that have shown impressive preclinical activity in cancers in which MYC is overexpressed at the transcriptional level due to chromosomal translocations that bring the MYC gene under the control of a super-enhancer. PEL cells, in contrast, lack structural alterations in the MYC gene, but have deregulated Myc protein due to the activity of KSHV-encoded latent proteins. We report that PEL cell lines are highly sensitive to bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) bromodomain inhibitors-induced growth inhibition and undergo G0/G1 cell-cycle arrest, apoptosis and cellular senescence, but without the induction of lytic reactivation, upon treatment with these drugs. Treatment of PEL cell lines with BET inhibitors suppressed the expression of MYC and resulted in a genome-wide perturbation of MYC-dependent genes. Silencing of BRD4 and MYC expression blocked cell proliferation and cell-cycle progression, while ectopic expression of MYC from a retroviral promoter rescued cells from (+)-JQ1-induced growth arrest. In a xenograft model of PEL, (+)-JQ1 significantly reduced tumor growth and improved survival. Taken collectively, our results demonstrate that the utility of BET inhibitors may not be limited to cancers in which genomic alterations result in extremely high expression of MYC and they may have equal or perhaps greater activity against cancers in which the MYC genomic locus is structurally intact and c-Myc protein is deregulated at the post-translational level and is only modestly overexpressed.